Breaking the Google addiction and giving DuckDuckGo a go

If you are doing travel related searches on Google you will be all too familiar with Google overloading the SERPs with Tripadvisor links. My personal record was 9/10.

I was doing a search for “ham tien beach” (in Vietnam) and in this case I got 6 out of 10 Tripadvisor links. I didn’t even search “hotel” yet Google deemed all these Tripadvisor links as relevant.

Here is a screenshot of the search.

Google search for

Such is my addiction to Google that I didn’t contemplate using another search engine. I just grumbled “stupid Tripadvisor” and left it at that (note: I have since checked Yahoo and Bing and their search results are equally filled with TA links).

In a case of serendipitous timing, I logged off and went for an podcast wander and the first podcast in the queue was What Does Google Know About Us? on the Tropical MBA podcast.

This episode features an interview with Gabriel Weinberg from DuckDuckGo; a search engine that doesn’t track you and which gets information from the quality rated sources rather than searching everything.

I got back from my podcast wander and gave DuckDuckGo a go. The same search term returned two out of ten Tripadvisor links. While that is one too many Tripadvisor links for my liking (and some might say two too many), it’s a vast improvement on the Google results.

Here is the DuckDuckGo screen shot for comparison (trimmed to the first 10 results).

DuckDuckGo search for

On the podcast Gabriel mentions that DuckDuckGo manually filters out content farms like Demand Media (which includes sites like ehow) that are able to dominate Google search results with what is, most of the time, not the best results. Rather than trying to tweak an algorithm to filter such sites DuckDuckGo just remove them. Yay DuckDuckGo!

I like that DuckDuckGo don’t track your search history or bias the results with what it thinks you might like. I also like the clean layout and minimum amount of ads, which harks back to what Google used to look like.

As a user of Gmail (and by forced default G+) and Google docs I am a heavy Google user. On my laptop I have a Google Chrome and Firefox browser open at all times. I’m logged into Gmail with Chrome and I use Firefox when I want to search without being logged into Google. I’ve now set DuckDuckGo as my default search engine on Firefox to give myself an alternative search to Google.

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  1. Hi James … A long time … Hopefully we’ll overlap again in Saigon before too much longer. Eating Saigon! ranks higher in a Duckduckgo search for where to eat in Saigon than in Google, so selfishly I ‘m a convert 🙂 Thanks for the tip.
    Happy Travels wherever you land next. JOE (and Hai)

  2. I too am too darn lazy to use DuckDuckGo – because, like you, I use Chrome. I did try it once, and was impressed, so maybe I’ll install it in Firefox like you did.

  3. You can exclude stuff from google searches, then your article is the 5th one:
    ham tien beach -tripadvisor