In an age of personalized search results, data-collecting cookies and massive security breaches, an increasing number of people are understandably interested in protecting their online privacy.
That explains why, even in the face of Google’s overwhelming market dominance, smaller, security-focused competitors like DuckDuckGo are gaining traction. If you want to reach its millions of users, learn how to master DuckDuckGo SEO now.
- Why You Should Care About DuckDuckGo SEO
- Improve Your Bing Rankings
- Focus on Link Building
- Create Location-Specific Content
- Boost the User Experience
Why You Should Care About DuckDuckGo SEO
If you’re not terribly familiar with DuckDuckGo, then you’re certainly not alone. As of January 2021, the search engine had a global market share of 0.66 percent and a U.S. market share of 2.6 percent:
Compare that to Google’s global market share of nearly 92 percent (almost 88 percent in the U.S.) and it’s clear why DuckDuckGo isn’t a household name.
Nevertheless, DuckDuckGo’s market share isn’t necessarily an indicator of its value, and no SEO practitioner should underestimate its importance. Why? DuckDuckGo may not be the biggest search engine out there, but it’s certainly growing fast.
Between 2010 and 2021, its number of daily searches skyrocketed from just over 33,000 to more than 68,000,000:
So why are millions of people flocking to DuckDuckGo (pun absolutely intended)? It all comes down to what the company is—or rather, isn’t—doing with users’ data.
Unlike almost every other tech company, DuckDuckGo doesn’t just refrain from selling users’ information: It never collects it to begin with. This means no personalized advertisements, altered search results or sharing of user data with third parties.
In light of Facebook’s bombshell Cambridge Analytica scandal and the resulting scrutiny of the tech industry’s treatment of user data, it’s no wonder DuckDuckGo’s strict privacy-centric practices are appealing to more people than ever.
The question is, how can you tweak your SEO strategy to reach DuckDuckGo users as effectively as you reach users of its more mainstream counterparts?
Improve Your Bing Rankings
It might sound strange, but by upgrading your Bing SEO you can in turn gain higher rankings on DuckDuckGo. That’s because DuckDuckGo actually gets most of its results via Bing and has named Microsoft’s search engine as its most commonly used source of results.
While it hasn’t explicitly stated as much, it’s reasonable to presume that DuckDuckGo uses Bing Search APIs. These APIs, or application programming interfaces, allow customers to build apps and services capable of searching web pages, images, news stories and more:
Thus, it stands to reason that by improving your Bing rankings, you’ll effectively improve your DuckDuckGo rankings too.
To optimize your site for Bing, start by:
- reading Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines to familiarize yourself with its algorithm;
- creating a Bing Webmaster Tools account and verifying site ownership;
- submitting an updated sitemap to Bing;
- using Bing’s URL and Content Submission API to index new content; and
- ensuring that Bingbot can crawl your site.
Focus On Link Building
A diverse link portfolio can drastically improve your site’s SERP performance on any modern search engine, and DuckDuckGo is no exception. So whether you’re specifically optimizing for DuckDuckGo or not, it’s in your best interest to start researching and implementing smart link building tips.
You can expand your site’s inbound links with a selection of tried-and-true techniques:
- Upgrade your outreach: Networking isn’t everything, but it’s certainly important. By building relationships with other reputable sites via strategic outreach, you can gain opportunities to write guest posts linking back to your own site, get linked to on social media and be organically featured on other sites.
- Never sacrifice quality: No matter how many new SEO trends emerge, nothing will ever surpass the value of high-quality content that’s been created with care. Think of it this way—exposure will bring visitors in, but exceptional content will make them stay (and further improve your rankings in the process).
- Grow your social media presence: Natural links from social media sites count just as much as links from other types of sites, so it’s worth your time to work on growing a solid social media presence and make it easy for users to share your site’s content.
- Make eye-catching visuals: If you create and publish photos, graphics, videos and charts that people want to share, you’re sure to gain plenty of new links. And if someone uses your image or video without including a backlink, be sure to reach out and ask for one.
As with all your link building efforts, the most important rule to remember is that a few top-notch links are more desirable than tons of lousy ones. Since links count as votes of confidence, you want yours to come from the most authoritative sites possible.
So while it likely goes without saying, always avoid participating in link schemes and don’t bother seeking out backlinks from less-than-reputable sites.
Create Location-Specific Content
Given that DuckDuckGo collects absolutely no personal information about its users, you might think that location-based content has no place in a DuckDuckGo SEO strategy. However, the search engine is able to approximate users’ locations based on their IP addresses.
That means it’s able to deliver anonymous yet localized results to users searching for region-specific information.
This is possible thanks to Internet Protocol (IP) geolocation. For example, by plugging a sample IP address into KeyCDN’s IP Location Finder we’re able to see that it originates from Brooklyn, New York, as well as a slew of other location-related information:
So a DuckDuckGo user who inputs the query “bagel shops near me,” for instance, will indeed be presented with a list of bagel shops in their general vicinity.
If you want to reach DuckDuckGo users where they are, be sure to create location-specific content and optimize it using some handy local SEO tips. These include:
- clearly showing relevance between your site and its primary topic;
- specifying the locations you’re targeting;
- encouraging customer reviews;
- fostering an online community; and
- working with local influencers.
Boost the User Experience
This strategy applies just as much to DuckDuckGo as it does to any other search engine: Improve your site’s user experience and you’ll improve your rankings as a result.
You probably already know why, so here’s the short version: The more satisfied your visitors are, the more likely they are to engage with your site and return to it in the future. And the more that happens, the higher search engines will rank your site.
While there are myriad ways to make your site more user-friendly, start with the most powerful:
- Increase page speed to accelerate visitors’ navigation.
- Ensure mobile-friendliness to meet the needs of your site’s many mobile users.
- Brush up on your image optimization skills to increase accessibility and decrease loading times.
- Add internal links to help users find related content in a snap.
- Create an on-site search barto make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for.
When combined, tactics like these can form a potent strategy that will elevate your site in users’ eyes and set it far apart from the rest.
Get Your Ducks in a Row with DuckDuckGo SEO
In a market undeniably dominated by Google, it’s easy to forget that other search engines deserve your attention too. Given its rapid growth, many years of experience and unique, privacy-focused ethos, DuckDuckGo is certainly one of them.
With just a few fundamental SEO techniques, you can ensure that your site doesn’t go unnoticed by DuckDuckGo’s tens of millions of users.
StatCounter / January 2021
DuckDuckGo / February 2021
Screenshots by author / February 2021