A lot of bloggers ignore DuckDuckGo, as the traffic potential is not that high and why work on something without getting any significant results. The truth is that in some niches DuckDuckGo can send a lot of traffic if you manage to rank. Today most websites that rank on DuckDuckGo do it by accident and not because they have optimized their website to rank on DuckDuckGo. Organic traffic tends to be extremely volatile, and the more sources of organic traffic you have the more traffic you will get every day.
You can rank on DuckDuckGo by optimizing for the user experience, writing good content, optimizing for Google, building high-quality backlinks, not using long-tail keywords, using localized search, using Instant Answers, installing SSL, using reputable ad networks, and by linking back to DuckDuckGo.
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The good news is that DuckDuckGo has a lot of similarities with Google, although with some exceptions. The difference between the search engines is not that big as it is between Google and Bing. Generally speaking, Bing is around 10 years behind Google’s algorithm and even the CEO of Bing has been caught using Google as a search engine. The number one search result in Bing is Google, although they have since “edited” the number of searches for google.
The main reason why you can not compare DuckDuckGo with Bing is that people who use DuckDuckGo do it for one reason which is privacy, and people who are using Bing probably do it because they do not have other options or they do not know how to change to another search engine. The biggest problem with DuckDuckGo is that you can not manually index your website, so you have to wait for the DuckDuckGo bot to crawl your website.
As DuckDuckGo isn’t a billion-dollar company it has limited resources, and they simply do not have the theology and the resources to crawl all websites as Google does. This is one of the main reasons why not a lot of webmasters are bothering with optimizing for DuckDuckGo. If you have a website with high authority than odds are that you will rank on most search engines, for more information check out my recent article Why is domain authority important? ( Top 8 Reasons ).
Optimize for the user experience
DuckDuckGo is oriented towards the users rather than businesses and other revenue-generating methods. DuckDuckGo’s main selling point is that they take privacy very seriously, although this is good news for the users but for DuckDuckGo it only makes things a lot more difficult. Most search engines rely on user data to display the correct search results, as DuckDuckGo doesn’t really use the user’s data they kind of work in the dark for the most part.
The most important metric on which DuckDuckGo can rely on is how long a user stays on a website and what is the click-through rate. Basically, if you manage to have a user come from DuckDuckGo to your site and they stay on your site for some time then this will be a positive signal for your website. How fast your website loads is extremely important when it comes to user experience, for more information check out my recent article How to speed up my website for free? ( In 11 Steps ).
Write good content
With some search engines you can get away with low-quality articles, but as DuckDuckGo’s main ranking metric is how a user behaves on your site than you have to make sure that the content which you are writing is high quality. Generally speaking, if you are writing content with the main goal of ranking on Google then you do not have to optimize for DuckDuckGo as well. The longer the content is the better it performs on any given search engine.
Optimize for google
Yes, you have heard it right in order to rank on DuckDuckGo you should optimize for Google. The search results between DuckDuckGo and Google are not that different, although how both search engines rank the same websites with different algorithms should make you wonder a bit. Basically, one search engine has a lot of info about its users and DuckDuckGo works with very limited data and yet the search results are more or less the same.
Now you could say that DuckDuckGo has a top-notch crawler with an AI like RankBrain and this is why the search results are so similar, or DuckDuckGo just scrapes the first page results of Google for the most popular keywords although that is just a theory. If you have a new blog and you want to rank it faster than there are a couple of things which you can do, for more information check out my recent article How to rank a new blog faster? ( In 9 Easy Steps ).
Build high-quality backlinks
Backlinks are still as relevant for the most part as they were a decade ago, although how backlinks are perceived by search engines is different between the search engines. The good news is that no matter on which search engine you want to rank, high-quality backlinks will only help you. Do not focus on building backlinks just to rank on DuckDuckGo, instead focus on building backlinks to rank on Google and you will also rank on DuckDuckGo.
Don’t use long-tail keywords
DuckDuckGo is extremely limited in how many websites and searches queries it can crawl, and it is fairly safe to say that they do not have the resources to crawl results for long-tail keywords. This is probably the main reason why they do not have a webmaster console where webmasters can submit their website to get indexed, too few resources. Generally speaking, long-tail keywords still work but only as long as the keyword phrase is not longer than 3 words.
On the other hand, Google has the resources to crawl even the longest keywords, and these are generally considered low competition which makes you rank a lot faster. For extremely long-tail keywords you will rank on Google but odds are that DuckDuckGo will simply rank a website that is an authority in that specific niche.
Use localized search
DuckDuckGo often shows different results depending on the location from where you are browsing. If you are in the USA and you search for “best restaurant” than it will show the results for the best restaurant in the USA if you are from Canada and you search for the same keyword than DuckDuckGo will show you results from Canada. Although this doesn’t really impact the wast majority of webmasters, but if you have a local business that you want to rank on DuckDuckGo than this can be extremely important.
Let us say for example that you are from Canada and you want to rank for “best restaurant” than you should use the keyword “best restaurant in Canada” both in the title of your post and in the URL structure as well. In addition to this, you might as well add “Canada” in your article a couple of times, just to make sure that the DuckDuckGo crawler gets it.
Use Instant Answers
Instant answers for DuckDuckGo is fairly similar to Quora or even Reddit. Getting your website on top for an Instant Answer is not that hard, although there are no actual statistics on how much traffic this feature can drive to your website. DuckDuckGo crawls other websites to provide these answers, basically, they do not have the resources or the technology to examine each answer and rank them accordingly so they use other websites and simply fetch the results from them, you are probably noticing a trend here.
There are a couple of websites from where the Instant Answers are being fetched or scraped, GitHub, Wikipedia, Crunchbase, Free Dictionary, and other similar websites. The good news is that on most of these websites you can create an account and start posting, the bad news is that you will have to figure out how to get traffic to these posts in order for the websites to determine how relevant the answer actually is.
As DuckDuckGo is mostly focused on privacy it is safe to say that having an SSL certificate is a must, especially if you are selling or even letting users register to your website. There are plenty of hosting companies that offer free SSL so you shouldn’t worry about it too much, just ask your hosting company if they offer it for free and if they will install it for you. Do note that if you have a fairly old website and you are installing SSL just now than your link structure might get broken, which will negatively impact your rankings for a time.
Use only reputable ad networks
Ads from Adsense, Ezoic, Adthrive, Mediavine, and so on are the standard for the display ads industry. There are a lot of websites that got rejected or banned from these platforms and they start using some other networks, and once they place the ads the website will be basically filled with malware, viruses, and trojans. Privacy is the most important factor for DuckDuckGo, and as long as you do not collect too much data and you are not promoting something extremely dodgy than you should be fine.
Link back to DuckDuckGo
A lot of people tend to overcomplicate things if you want to get a backlink from any website then you should make the first step and link to them. This is the same for search engines as well, especially if you have a high-quality website with some traffic. By linking back to a search term from DuckDuckGo you will make DuckDuckGo crawl your website, all search engines love themselves, and if you also manage to drive some traffic trough the link than DuckDuckGo will start ranking you for your targeted keyword.
As you can see there are a couple of steps that you can do in order to rank on DuckDuckGo. Just note that DuckDuckGo is very small when it comes to driving traffic, and even if you manage to rank for a lot of keywords you still might not see any significant increase in your traffic. On the other hand, if you are in an extremely competitive niche where every click counts than go ahead, the competition on DuckDuckGo is extremely low.