Like choosing a web browser, deciding on a search engine is a highly personal choice. We rely heavily on the search engine to find many different things. It can be frustrating if it does not provide the results we hope to find. 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.
The deciding factor for choosing any search engine is how accurate the results are that it returns for any search term. 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 Wikipedia link. There are also a few other links below for search results as well as some additional “boxes” at the top with other relevant search topics.
Bing does a really great job with this question, also showing Charles Babbage and a Wikipedia link on the right side of the screen. Other popular questions relevant to Charles Babbage are shown in the “People Also Ask” section. This is a strong result from Bing and just edges out Google.
DuckDuckGo users do not get Charles Babbage’s name popping up right away. You need to jump into a search result to find the answer. The info box on the right also did not answer the question of “who invented the computer” but showed the answer for “what is a computer.”
Searching for a Place
To search for a place: “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 new 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. Like Google, Bing’s top results are all restaurant articles based on top restaurants. Bing wins this round.
DuckDuckGo does a fine job searching for sushi restaurants in Chicago. It, too, highlights some options on a map and clearly indicates where to find “More places.” The same results for the best sushi restaurants surface near the top of the results for all three browsers.
Find a Person
For 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, as Google highlights history.com and their quick synopsis of the life of George Washington.
Bing’s heavier emphasis on visuals comes through again as well with multiple photos of Washington. Like Google, Bing also pulls in the history.com synopsis on Washington’s life as well as the quick link to Wikipedia. It’s something of a tossup between Google and Bing on this search thanks to Bing’s heavy emphasis on visuals.
Don’t count out DuckDuckGo on this search, as it, too, adds the Wikipedia entry as one of the first results. History.com is now the third top result, and no quick synopsis of Washington’s life is shown. Instead, DDG links to a set of videos that all help someone learn more about Washington’s life. DDG does a good job, and there is no reason to see the results as inferior to either Bing or Google.
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 the release of 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 before navigating to Amazon.com. 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.
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. You have two options with search, the more general “Google Search” or, if you are feeling really risky, “I’m Feeling Lucky,” which can take you to the first result of any search.
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. DuckDuckGo is entirely reliant on third parties.
On the other hand, 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. 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 more choices here.)
- If you are looking for the best results and the convenience of useful features, use Google.
- For everything in between, use Bing.
Find out how other search engines compare to Google here.