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Search Engine Study Explores Shift in Users Preference For Google Alternatives

Have you ever imagined a world without using Google to carry out searches? Seems pretty far fetched, right? Maybe not so much.

According to one recent study, users’ preferences may be shifting away from Google in favour of other search options.

The study, commissioned by private search engine, DuckDuckGo, found that a large group of people would prefer to use non-Google search engines if they had the choice.

The goal of the study was to determine which search engines people would choose if presented with a preference menu on their Android devices containing other search menu options besides just Google.

Over 3,000 adults living in the US, UK, Germany, and Australia took part in the study, and were presented both 4 and 8 search engines to choose from.

Source: DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo found that in each country it surveyed, participants that were presented with 8 search engine options were more likely to select non-Google search engines.

“We found that in each surveyed country, people select the Google alternatives at a rate that could increase their collective mobile market share by 300%-800%, with overall mobile search market share immediately changing by over 10%. (Of course, this is dependent on which search engines are on the search preference menu),” the study said.

So, What Search Engines Would Users Prefer?

As for what people chose instead of Google, the study found that DuckDuckGo was the second most selected search engine in the preference menus, indicating an increasing demand for private search engine options.

Source: DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo also asked study participants what factors would cause them to use a different search engine.

The top response was “better quality results,” followed by “if it didn’t collect any personal data about me or my searches.”

What Does All of This Mean?

The findings suggest that smartphone users aren’t aware that they have the ability to switch their default search engine. And those who do know they can change their preferences are met with obstacles, according to DuckDuckGo.

“…those who do attempt to change their Android search defaults face obstacles like hard-to-change home screen search widgets. Google’s pervasiveness in search is difficult to dissipate; the company has many levers that exert magnetic forces, pulling people into its search engine,” the study said.

But as more people become familiar with alternative search engine options and the ability to change preferences on their smartphones, DuckDuckGo expects an even greater shift over time.

However, the study also added that Android features such as Google Assistant, use of other Google products like Gmail, along with Google prompts such as pop-up boxes, could potentially draw people back to using Google.