Since most of us heavily rely on search engines, it can be frustrating if it does not provide the results we hope for. However, deciding on a search engine is a highly personal choice. As it stands today, Google is the most popular, Bing is playing catchup, and DuckDuckGo is trying a privacy-centric approach. So how do you know which one is right for you? Let’s compare Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo and see where each search giant succeeds and where they fall behind the competition.
Obviously, the most important aspect of any search engine is the accuracy of the results it provides based on the data you input. So, let’s see how each of the three search engines perform.
Asking a Question
For the question “Who invented the computer?”:
With Google, the results are very clear showing Charles Babbage’s name clearly along with a link to Encyclopedia Britannica. It also populates other common search results before showing you the top sources online that answer this question.
Bing doesn’t make the answer nearly as obvious as Google, even when using Microsoft’s browser. However, you can see from the bold text in the first two results that the answer is Charles Babbage. You also get results of related people under the Wikipedia post about the computer on the right hand side of the screen.
DuckDuckGo users do not get Charles Babbage’s name right away. Instead you need to read through the snippets for the first two results to get any sort of answer. That being said, it does provide the same top two results as Bing, even if the answer is a little less obvious.
Searching for a Place
Next, let’s search for a place like “sushi restaurants in Chicago.”
Google brings up a quick and easy map with the top results for sushi and clearly identifies where to click to find “More places.” Scrolling down a bit brings you to the web search results, with top results focusing on relevant articles regarding the best sushi places in Chicago.
This is another strong result for Bing with scrollable restaurant results shown at the top with ratings as well as a way to separate the results by price, hours, rating, etc. Immediately under these results is Open Table’s list of top sushi restaurants in Chicago.
DuckDuckGo does an okay job searching for sushi restaurants in Chicago. It first provides links to Open Table and Groupon, then shows a map with options. While it doesn’t place the map and list as close to the top as other search engines, it still isn’t all that bad.
Finding a Person
Let’s try asking the question “Who is George Washington?”
It immediately recognized that he was a founding father and the first president of the United States. Those facts are front and center on the results page, and Google highlights facts about Washington on the right side of the search results.
Bing’s heavier emphasis on visuals comes through again as well with multiple photos of Washington. Bing also pulls in data from Wikipedia to provide basic facts about the founding father. The result is something of a toss-up between Google and Bing on this search thanks to Bing’s heavy focus on images.
Don’t count out DuckDuckGo on this search, as it, too, adds the Wikipedia entry as one of the first results. DuckDuckGo also offers a quick snippet on the right side of the screen, and History.com is the third top result.
While Google has made strides in enhancing the privacy of its search engine experience, it is still not its topmost priority. Google relies on your search history to serve you personalized results, ads, etc. If you would prefer to keep your search history private, Google should not be your first choice.
Like Google, Bing also keeps a record of your search history. Also like Google, Bing captures your IP address, your cookies, and personalizes your search results. Microsoft has made plenty of noise about focusing more on user privacy, something it’s showing with its Edge browser. That said, Bing still has a long way to go to bring itself up to par with the likes of DuckDuckGo.
In a battle for privacy, DuckDuckGo wins by leaps and bounds over Google and Bing. DDG does not attach your search inquiries to any persistent identifier, so it cannot build a picture of what kind of results you like or dislike. There are no cookies turned on by default. DuckDuckGo cannot identify unique users. Ads are targeted based on the keyword search rather than a user’s individual search history. No personal information like IP addresses or user agent strings are attached to any search results. In the battle for search engine user privacy, it’s DuckDuckGo for the win.
Everything from its frequent and sometimes playable Google Doodles, package tracking, traffic checks, movie times and more make it super useful. Want to know the weather outside? Just type “weather” in the search bar, and it will show you local weather. Try typing in a math equation into the search bar, and Google quite literally does the math for you. There are almost too many unique features to name.
One of the best and most unique aspects of Bing is that it will pay you to search. Better known as Microsoft Rewards, Bing rewards each search from mobile or desktop with points. These points can later be cashed in for gift cards or for discounts on Microsoft product purchases. Every day there are also quizzes and challenges to earn double or triple points to shorten the amount of time necessary to earn a reward.
Bing also adds its “Timeline” feature where key events in the lifetime of influential/famous people show up in a search result. Whereas Google only gives you four autocomplete suggestions, Bing offers eight suggestions and also makes it easier to nail down your exact search. While Google offers lots of extras, it’s hard to say no to free stuff, so Microsoft wins this round but only by a little.
The single best feature of DuckDuckGo, and likely the most popular, is !Bangs. Essentially, !Bangs let you directly search other websites from DuckDuckGo. In the DDG search bar, type “!Amazon” before any search term, and you will be able to search Amazon without navigating to Amazon.com first. It’s worth noting that these !Bangs are not private searches, as you are passing through to a website that can track you, like Amazon in this case.
Still, !Bangs are incredibly convenient and are the single best reason to use DuckDuckGo as your home page. Separately, type “Is It Raining” in DDG, and it will tell you if it’s raining out. Want some alternatives to Google Drive? Type in “alternatives to Google Drive,” and DDG will show you alternative services at the top of the screen. It’s a neat way of seeing different results without having to navigate to another website.
Not likely to be the biggest factor in determining which search engine to use, Google’s homepage has rarely changed over the years. It’s barren, full of white space and is often filled with its Google Doodles. However, there’s not much going on besides that.
Bing is the big winner in this space, as its homepage is full of beautiful imagery that changes daily, if not hourly. There are trending news stories in thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, and everything is customizable. Where Google prefers getting right to the point, Bing helps you locate other interesting subjects before your main search. That said, the search bar is front and center, making it easy to ignore the rest of the page and get right down to business.
Outside of offering a few color themes to choose from, DuckDuckGo offers a similar look to Google. Dark mode is a favorite of many computer users these days, so that’s a popular option. The search bar is, of course, the focal point, and you can find it without any extraneous looking around.
There was a time when speed was once a big factor in choosing a search engine. How long it took from the time you hit “enter” to when search results actually showed up. Those days appear to be behind us, as the difference is now calculated in microseconds, and the average Internet user cannot tell the difference.
On the other hand, Google search and the way it ties into the rest of its plethora of Google apps and services are worth considering. Searching for a restaurant in the search engine will also let you send the address right to your mobile device and Google Maps. Bing does something similar with its own map services, but it rarely functions as seamless. However, there are a few things that Bing does better than Google. DuckDuckGo is entirely reliant on third parties.
Each of these browsers offers visual searches for images, videos, news, products and more. Want to flip a metaphorical coin? Google and DuckDuckGo can do this. Want to see details of an upcoming flight? Google and Bing can display it directly in a search result if you know the flight number, whereas DuckDuckGo sends you to a flight-tracking website. DuckDuckGo also allows you to search the dark web. Needless to say, these are the kind of miscellaneous features that can determine which is better.
In this three-way battle between Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, here are the results:
- If you are concerned about privacy, use DuckDuckGo. (Check out a few more privacy-centric search engines.)
- If you are looking for the best results and the convenience of useful features, use Google.
- For everything in between, use Bing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I set a default search engine?
Most browsers allow you to set a search engine of your choice as the default. For example, on Chrome, you have to navigate to “Settings -> Search Engine” to select which search engine is used in your address bar.
What is the most commonly used search engine?
Google is currently the most commonly used search engine, with over 85 percent of internet users opting for Google.
Can I remove my personal information from a search engine?
Mostly, yes, but the process can be challenging and tedious. To begin with, remove information you have volunteered in your public profiles on social media sites. Change your settings on such sites to make your account private, and where possible, choose to prevent your data from being crawled by search engines.
Also, raise a request to remove your information from people finder websites, and request Google to remove personally identifiable information. Use Google’s Remove Outdated Content tool to delete your information from search results for pages that have already been changed or removed from the web.
Image credit: EVG Kowalievska via Pexels
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