DuckDuckGo Faces Down Google On Q1 Organic Search Growth

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Google may be the dominant force in search, holding 93-percent of organic search visits and 96-percent on mobile, but DuckDuckGo made serious headway to challenge the search giant's growth on that front for Q1 2019 based on Merkle's latest Digital Marketing Report. Despite DuckDuckGo only accounting for 0.5-percent and 0.6-percent percent of the market respectively, it severely outpaced Google in growth and a significant portion of that growth happened on Google's home turf — namely in mobile search.

For Google, total organic search visits fell by 2-percent from the first quarter of 2018 while its mobile metric rose by 6-percent. Its decidedly smaller competitor saw a growth of 54-percent overall and 78-percent in mobile for the same period. For both companies, 62-percent of search visits could be attributed to mobile.

The bigger picture

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Google's mobile search share did not grow from last year according to Merkle and neither did either other big competing company — Yahoo and Bing — holding around 2-percent share respectively. In terms of overall share, Yahoo stayed flat at 3-percent while Bing saw a decline from 5-percent to 4-percent. Google's overall organic share rose a single percent from 92-percent to 93-percent, giving it a commanding lead.

In total, Yahoo's organic growth dropped by 5-percent while Bing's dropped 23-percent year-over-year. Comparatively, DuckDuckGo saw an increase from 0.3 to 0.5-percent overall and from 0.3 to 0.6-percent on mobile.

Despite Google's position being bolstered thanks to its global dominance in mobile and a significant foothold in the US, topped with policies that ensure Google Search is the default unless users actively change settings, DuckDuckGo is growing at a substantially faster clip. The privacy-intensive search upstart may even be taking a not-insignificant portion of its organic growth from the search behemoth since more than half of its growth is in that particular market segment.

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The caveat to that situation is that organic searches, while showcasing how users are naturally discovering search tools and using them, only accounted for a percentage over a quarter of all visits in Q1 2019. They also only accounted for 24-percent of mobile site visits — a drop of around 2-percent from last quarter, all things considered.

Slower growth in the mobile space and drops in search visits from tablets and desktops compound that, equating to the largest drop in approximately two years, according to Merkle. Simultaneously, phone-based search visits reached a historic 50-percent of visits, with the implication being that DuckDuckGo is challenging Google where it matters most in terms of growth.

Perspective

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With Google now effectively disbarred from setting its search as the default in some regions and continually forced to add competitors to the number of search engines that can be set by default, it could continue to lose share. But it isn't likely to be taken down by DuckDuckGo anytime soon.

Growing competition from privacy-focused browsers and search engines coupled with a fair number of fines for its practices over the past several months aren't without impact. The company openly admitted that it needed to 'do better' late in 2018 and has made a concerted effort to work toward moving privacy features that had previously been buried easier to find. Those changes will probably continue being made moving forward.

The search giant has also had several missteps in the meantime and news continues to emerge highlighting just how much data is being parceled out and how that's being used. DuckDuckGo has been among those calling the company out on that front.

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With Google now effectively disbarred from setting its search as the default in some regions and continually forced to add competitors to the number of search engines that can be set by default, it may slowly lose its dominating grip on that market.