Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reached a major milestone in its 12-year-old history this week when it recorded on Monday its first-ever day with more than 100 million user search queries.
DuckDuckGo builds its search index using its DuckDuckBot Crawler, indexing Wikipedia, and partnering Bing.
The record comes after a period of sustained growth the company has been seeing for the past two years, and especially since August 2020, when the search engine began seeing more than 2 billion search queries a month on a regular basis. The numbers are small in comparison to Google’s 5 billion daily search queries but it’s a positive sign that users are looking for alternatives.
DuckDuckGo’s popularity comes after the search engine has expanded beyond its own site and now currently offers mobile apps for Android and iOS, but also a dedicated Chrome extension.
“More than 4 million users installed these apps and extension,” the company said in a tweet in September 2020.
But the search engine’s rising popularity is also due to its stated goal of not collecting user data and providing the same search results to all users.
“Each time you search on DuckDuckGo, you have a blank search history, as if you’ve never been there before,” the company explained in their privacy blog.
As it highlighted last year, this lack of granular data sometimes makes it hard for the company to even estimate the size of its own userbase.
But in a statement to BleepingComputer, DuckDuckGo said that it recorded a 62% growth in average daily searches in 2020. And so far in January 2021, it receives an average of 90 million search queries per day.
For instance, on January 11th, the search engine company received 102,251,307 daily search queries, which is a record.
But this dedication to privacy has also helped the company gain a following among the privacy-conscious crowd. DuckDuckGo has been selected as the default search engine in the Tor Browser and is often the default search engine in the private browsing modes of several other browsers.
With the increasing reports of data breaches, people’s data being used for political purposes, or their behavior tracked throughout the internet, more and more people are switching to the privacy-centric search engine.
“While we don’t track our users, we study user adoption through national surveys. What we’ve learned from those surveys is that our overall growth is driven by people who want more privacy online via word of mouth conversations,” the company told Bleeping Computer.
The WhatsApp effect.
DuckDuckGo’s historical milestone comes in a week when both Signal and Telegram, two other privacy-centric apps, also announced major periods of growth.
Telegram announced on Monday that it reached 500 million registered users, while Signal’s servers went down on Friday after seeing “millions upon millions of new users” in a sudden influx the company said exceeded even its most optimistic projections.
DuckDuckGo said its success is also connected to recent WhatsApp/Facebook controversy.
Web data analysis firm StatCounter said DuckDuckGo has become the second most used search engine on mobile devices in the US, UK, Canada and Australian markets.
Despite the increased growth, Google still dominates web search with 94% market share in the US, DuckDuckGo commands 2.25%, while Yahoo has 1.94%. however, these developments show that Google could find itself in the shoes of WhatsApp, especially as the Silicon giant is facing multiple antitrust cases.