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Whatever Happened to DuckDuckGo?

Is the Edward Snowden case the best thing that ever happened to Duck-Duck-Go (DDG), the little search engine that offers big-time privacy protection?

It sure looked that way last month when Snowden’s revelations about US Government Internet surveillance sent privacy obsessed end-users flocking the upstart search engine. The company’s daily searches skyrocked from around 400,000 to 2 million over the course of just three days.

So how is DDG doing post-Snowden Surge? According to a number of published reports, they’ve added another million daily searches to their total and there’s no sign of a slowdown.

Making the Most of the Snowden Surge

Not surprisingly, DDG is making the most of their serendipitous fortune by touting their position as the most anonymous search engine on the Web. (Though they’ve been careful not to mention Snowden or the NSA by name.)

Besides a surge of press releases aimed at raising their profile in the press, DDG also released an iOS version of their Search & Stories app.

Search & Stories (which has been available on Android for a couple of years) is little more than a search engine bar and news reader with a social discovery component. But like the search engine itself, Search and Stories offers enhanced privacy protection.

Does it Really Matter

While DDG’s growth is big news in the DDG offices, some search pundits are reacting to the news with a chorus of yawns.

Over at, SEO expert Danny Sullivan points out that DDG was pretty close to the 2 million daily search mark well before Snowden starting spouting US intelligence secrets.

The Sullivan cold-water bath continues as explains how insignificant a million daily searches are in the world of search engines. Even at 90 million monthly searches, DDG is still miles behind Internet ghost towns like AOL Search, which still manages more than 200 million monthly searches.

Should DDG want to get in Google territory, they’ll have to up their game by about 998,000,000 monthly searches.

And when it comes to protecting privacy, Google and the rest of the search engines are actually doing quite a bit to protect their end-users.

Also, all that information Google collects actually helps improve end-user experience while shoring up the company’s bottom line. When it comes to turning a profit, DDG may find that privacy doesn’t pay.

We’d also add that no one is really sure whether the NSA or KGB or anybody else has their ear on DDG, despite the company’s best efforts to protect their users.

DDG’s Future

Any growth in the search engine market that isn’t Google is good news for affiliates and other web publishers. DDG, after all, is still fertile ground for SEOs who are willing to focus on a smaller market without a lot of SEO competition from the big boys.

All criticism aside, DDG has potential as a Google alternative and they’ve shown some real moxie by exploiting the Snowden situation. This points to a company that’s quick on its feet and ready for action.

Are you focusing any SEO efforts on Duck-Duck-Go now that it’s “booming”? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.