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How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money

The idea of a search engine that doesn’t spy on you (not as much as the likes of Google, at least) sounds extremely appealing. However, you may assume that it’s not going to work, as the developers still need to make a living somehow. Taking this into consideration, it makes sense to ask how DuckDuckGo (DDG) makes money and what its prospects are.

You might be surprised to learn that there are ways to make a profit other than using cookies and throwing excessive, irritating ads at users all the time. While DuckDuckGo doesn’t make billions of dollars, it is financially stable. You are about to learn why.

Advertising Opposite from Google’s

The first of the two big ways in which DuckDuckGo manages to make money is related to good old advertising. But this is not your typical advertising, as unlike most other search engines (and just websites in general), DDG doesn’t use tracking. It doesn’t even need cookies, which are considered necessary by some of its competitors.

Instead, what it does is follow the data that’s being typed instead of following your behavior, past search history, click behavior, etc. It just checks what you’re looking for, and then it shows up ads regarding the search query (assuming it can come with any relevant ads, that is).

The biggest difference between DDG and Google is that Google is more of a global corporation, while DuckDuckGo is still primarily a search engine. Google makes it a priority to gain money and show you as many ads as possible, while DDG is genuinely committed to protecting your privacy. A comparison between their revenues shows this, as Google’s revenue nears a hundred billion dollars, while DDG’s is somewhere about a million.

Affiliate Marketing

DuckDuckGo uses affiliate marketing to gain additional revenue. Its ads are linked to e-commerce corporations such as eBay and Amazon. This means that, whenever you make a purchase on those sites, if DDG brought you there, it takes a commission. This is possible thanks to eBay and Amazon having their own affiliate networks.

Yahoo! also works with DuckDuckGo, as it receives DDG’s search queries, but just like DDG, it doesn’t collect any info about the individuals searching the web.

To Use DuckDuckGo or Not to Use It?

The only disadvantage of using DuckDuckGo is that it may not have results as accurate as Google’s. The results are not personalized because DuckDuckGo doesn’t use your browsing history and click behavior, so it can’t predict which results you will be the most interested in.

Still, there are numerous advantages of using DuckDuckGo over Google, and privacy is not the only one.


For one, it has this useful feature called “bangs.” The idea is to make searching a specific site much easier and faster. By typing the exclamation mark, followed by the site’s “code” and a search query, DDG will instantly send the command to that site, showing the site’s search results, not its own.

DuckDuckGo bang

This is especially useful if you know exactly which website you want to look up. For example, if you want to look up a movie on IMDb, but you don’t know the full name, you can write a single word after a bang and hit the search button. Likewise, if you type the exact article name when searching on Wikipedia, it’ll take you to that article’s page. You can find out more about “bangs” by clicking on this link [1].

IMDb example

Instant Answers

Instant answers are a set of interactive, informative, and useful functions and answers that DuckDuckGo can quickly provide. Some examples include web apps such as a calculator and a weather forecast, a quick search for the most popular Amazon products of a certain type, and a cheat sheet with specific app hotkeys. You can also always see the current list of instant answers that DuckDuckGo provides by going to this site [2].

Photoshop answer

Keep Searching

DuckDuckGo is a great way to browse the web without having a fear of being spied on. If you can get over a somewhat decreased accuracy level and you like experiencing new things, give DDG a try. You may also find its other functions convenient to use.

If you have used DuckDuckGo, what are your thoughts about it? Which bangs and instant answers do you find helpful? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.