Results May Vary: Google vs. Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo.

May 20, 2021

by Vlad Khvatov

Results May Vary: Google vs. Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo.

6.5 million search results across 4 search engines reveal how they’re alike—and how they’re not

If you’ve spent more than a few hours on the internet, you know that Google is the king of search engines. The search giant owns a towering 92% share of the search market. The majority of users don’t even consider using a different search engine. And why should they? Google’s been “old reliable” for over two decades. 

But while Google remains synonymous with “search,” the fact remains that there are alternatives. Some have been slain by mighty Google over the years (goodbye, Altavista), but old names like Yahoo still draw breath today. And yes, they still have users. 

With Google being the brand name among all these also-rans, we got to wondering. Are we missing out by only using Google? How much of a difference is there across these different search platforms? There was only one way to find out. Run a lot of searches and collect data. 

Running The Numbers

When we say a lot of searches and data, we mean 56,000 keywords and over 6.5 million search results across 4 search engines - Google, Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo. 

After collecting the data, we started making sense of it. Our first question was: How similar are these different search engines? We defined similarity as the percentage of like results found in the top 10 of two different search engines. 

We also compared results at different positions across platforms. We sorted results by topic and keyword length. And we tracked how often big domains like Amazon, Youtube and Wikipedia landed in the top results.   

Summary of findings: 

1

Google’s top result is only found in the top spot on Yahoo 34% of the time, and the top spot on Bing and DuckDuckGo 36% of the time.

2

How similar are other search engine’s top 10 results to Google’s? DuckDuckGo is closest with 32%, followed by Bing (31%) and Yahoo (29%)

3

Yahoo and Bing’s top 10 results are 71% similar, while Yahoo and DuckDuckGo’s are only 63% similar. 

4

For Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo, keywords with monthly search volume in the 1k-10k range are the most similar to Google.

5

Search topics make a difference. DuckDuckGo is 37% similar to Google in real estate searches. Yahoo is only 25% similar to Google in apparel searches. 

6

Compared to other search engines, Google is 2x more likely to produce a Facebook result and 3x more likely to produce a Pinterest result.

7

The other 3 search engines are more likely to put Amazon, YouTube, IMDB and TripAdvisor in the top ten search results.

Google’s top result is only found in the top spot on Yahoo 34% of the time, and the top spot on Bing and DuckDuckGo 36% of the time.

For the average keyword search, you’ve got about a 1 in 3 chance of finding Google’s top result in the #1 spot on Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo. 

But Google’s top result isn’t at the top of the other search engines’ results pages, it’s got a higher chance of not being found at all than it is to end up on the first page or two. 

For internet marketers, that’s a telling statistic. 

It means that going that extra mile to capture the number one spot in Google could lead to a predictable boost in organic traffic from other search engines. 

Key takeaway: For internet marketers, gunning for that top Google spot can help you draw in traffic from other search engines. 

How similar are other search engine’s top 10 results to Google’s? DuckDuckGo is closest with 32%, followed by Bing (31%) and Yahoo (29%)

That’s right. For any given Google keyword, you’re only likely to find 2 or 3 of those individual results in the same search on one of the other platforms. 

This indicates that Google is doing something very different than the rest of the pack with it’s search algorithm. 

Whether or not the results on page 1 of Google are better than the other 3 is, well, subjective to say the least. 

It’s hard to quantify how well a search engine satisfies the user’s requests beyond looking at user satisfaction scores. The ACSI gave Google a 79% score over Yahoo’s 72% and Bing’s 71% in 2020. 

In other words, Google may be better, but the competition is closer than you’d expect.

For everyday users, the differences across platforms means that if you don’t find something useful with a Google search, you could find the results you’re looking for by turning to one of the other 3. 

Top Google results for “how to learn javascript”

Top DuckDuckGo results for “how to learn javascript”

Key Takeaway: Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo are great if you’re looking for an alternative to Google’s results. 

Yahoo and Bing’s top 10 results are 71% similar, while Yahoo and DuckDuckGo’s are only 63% similar.   

And here’s where things get interesting. 

Any of the other 3 search engines are more likely to pull up the same results as each other than they are to match Google’s.

For Yahoo and Bing, the relationship is pretty cut-and-dry. Run any Yahoo search and scroll down to the bottom of the page. On the right side of the footer, you’ll see the words “Powered by Bing.”

Back in 2009, Yahoo! And Microsoft reached a deal that would let Bing power Yahoo searches. Which explains the similarity, but leaves one scratching their head as to why those two don’t give the exact same results 100% of the time. 

For DuckDuckGo, there’s no clear explanation for the similarity to Yahoo and Bing. DuckDuckGo’s algorithm uses over 400 sources (including Yahoo and Bing) to populate its search results. 

That fact indicates that search engine similarity beyond Google could extend to more than just these three platforms.  

Key takeaway: Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo are not good alternatives for each other. 

For Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo, keywords with monthly search volume in the 1k-10k range are the most similar to Google.

We found that across all three of the other search engines, results become more and more similar to Google as monthly search volume increases from zero. 

Similarity peaks in the 1k-10k range before taking a dive when more popular keywords are used. 

The pattern is predictable and persists when you look beyond the top 10 search results. The top 20 and top 30 results all peak in similarity in the 1k-10k range. 

These results make sense when you consider how content marketers operate. 

New companies seeking to get high search engine rankings for their content tend to focus on low-competition keywords that often have low monthly search volume. 

Content marketers at established, authoritative internet properties are able to dominate search results with even the highest competition and monthly search volume. 

But both of these types of companies have something in common: they are laser-focused on creating content that will be appealing to Google. 

The fact that search results in low and high volume ranges are more unlike Google reinforces the fact that Google values web pages completely differently than the other search engines. 

That spike in similarity in the middle range is for keywords that new websites aren’t ready to target yet and established websites don’t bother with. 

Key takeaway: Using multiple search engines for the least searched for and most searched for keywords will give you the greatest variety. 

Keyword length makes a difference. Searches with 5 or more keywords are more similar to Google across all three search engines. 

This finding is in line with what you’d expect from any set of search engines. 

The longer and more specific a search phrase is, the smaller the pool of potential webpages there are to populate the search results. 

There’s just more content out there for “shrimp tacos” than there is for “gluten free low sodium shrimp tacos.”

Long-tail keywords:


When looking at 1241 single-word search phrases with less than 1000 searches per month, DuckDuckGo’s top 10 results were 27% similar to Google’s. 


For search phrases with 5 or more words (known as long-tail keywords) and less than 1000 searches per month, DuckDuckGo’s top 10 jumped up to 34% similarity.   

Key takeaway: The longer the keyword phrase, the more similar the results across all search engines. 

Search topic makes a difference. DuckDuckGo is 37% similar to Google in real estate searches. Yahoo is only 25% similar to Google in apparel searches. 

After collecting data on monthly search volume and number of keywords, we decided to dig down deeper and look at how results change based on keyword category:

Once again, DuckDuckGo leads the other two for similarity to Google across every single category listed. Likewise, Yahoo lags behind in every category. 

When you look at the big picture, a clear pattern emerges. There are just certain search categories where all three platforms are more likely to produce more Google-like results. 

This information could be useful to a search engine user who is dissatisfied with the options Google is giving them. 

If they’re searching for apparel, personal care or fitness topics, they’re likely to get a good mix of mostly different results if they turn to one of the other search engines.

It’s like going to the doctor. Don’t like what you hear? Get a second opinion.  

Key takeaway: Results are more or less similar across search engines depending on the topic of the search. 

Compared to other search engines, Google is 2x more likely to produce a Facebook result and 3x more likely to produce a Pinterest result. 

If you’re a regular search engine user, you’ve no doubt noticed the prevalence of big domains high up in the search results. 

For consumer goods, Amazon, Walmart and a host of other big retailers tend to find their way to the top of most searches. 

And you’re more likely to win the lottery than run a search without being greeted by a Wikipedia page. 


This could be a positive or a negative depending on your perspective. Some users who prefer to support small retailers would be glad to never see another Amazon or Walmart product page pop up in their search results. 

As part of our study, we took a look at how often big domains appeared in results across all four search engines. The data we got back was surprising. Overall, Google favored Facebook twice as much as any other search engine. 

The most striking result here is Pinterest. Google is over three times as likely to throw up a pinterest board for a search result than any of the other three search engines. 

Take a look at the screenshot below for Google’s results page for “vintage sneakers guide.” Pinterest dominates, with two results on the front page:

Key takeaway: Tired of Facebook and Pinterest dominating your Google searches? Try switching things up. 

The other 3 search engines are more likely to put Amazon, YouTube, IMDB and TripAdvisor in the top ten search results. 

The most surprising result here is that Amazon is more likely to be found via a Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo search than it is on Google. Amazon is the 3rd most visited website in the world, behind Google and Facebook. 

YouTube, IMDB and TripAdvisor are also on the list of big domains more likely to be found on the other three search engines. 

Key takeaway: Stick to Google if you want to avoid results from big domains like TripAdvisor, Amazon, YouTube and IMDB. 

Key Takeaways

Internet marketers should focus on Google and reap the extra traffic. A big fact that can be taken from this study is that search engines use different methods to pull together their search results. But by focusing on Google, you have a much better chance at pulling in extra traffic than by doing things the other way around.

1

Google is a very unique search engine. 


Which isn’t surprising, considering the internet giant was founded on its search engine algorithm and is currently the 4th largest U.S. company by market cap. It consistently produces results that stand out from its three smaller competitors.

2

Smaller search engines are similar to each other, but still different enough. 


Earlier in the article, we established that Yahoo runs on Bing’s search engine (which doesn’t explain why they produce different results). DuckDuckGo’s platform is a combination of hundreds of different sources. The three definitely have more similarity among themselves than with Google, but they each have a different enough output that test-driving each would be a good option. 

3

Differences in results may be due to website operators tailoring their content to suit Google’s preferences. 


Content marketing departments have two goals. The first is to create interesting and useful content. The other goal is to get search engine traffic. Since Google is hands down the leading search engine, that means Google’s algorithm is always top-of-mind for website creators. That means valuable content written for its own sake might fall by the wayside on Google searches. Is that content more likely to reach the top of Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo? Running your search through a second search engine could give you a more genuine result. 

4

You can avoid big domains if you know the difference between search engines. 


Big brands have come to dominate search engines over time. Their success makes sense considering the sheer amount of traffic they bring in and content they produce. But sometimes, as a user, you just don’t want to see them in your search results. So if you’re looking for visual inspiration and can’t bear to see another Pinterest board, you might want to give DuckDuckGo a try.

5

Internet marketers should focus on Google and reap the extra traffic. 


A big fact that can be taken from this study is that search engines use different methods to pull together their search results. But by focusing on Google, you have a much better chance at pulling in extra traffic than by doing things the other way around. 

Conclusion

Google is associated with search to such a high degree that its name has become a verb. “Google it” might be a more common phrase than “thank you” in 2021. And as a search engine, it definitely marches to the beat of its own drum. 

What search engines like Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo offer is a different perspective on what the most relevant results should be for any given search phrase. If you’ve become jaded to Google’s ever-encroaching presence in our day-to-day lives, you could give one of these alternatives a whirl. 

Whether or not those results are more useful than Google’s is probably impossible to quantify. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

What do you think is the most interesting takeaway from this study? Do you have a question about the study? Our interpretation of the data?

Share your thoughts below in the comments! We’d love to hear what you thought.

You can see a full breakdown of our data analysis right here. We also have a GitHub repository of the data that we used.

 

Vlad Khvatov

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About the Author

Vlad made over $100,000 in less than a year thanks to his blog—and this is just the beginning of his journey. He is an online entrepreneur and SEO and affiliate marketing expert. Now Vlad focuses on teaching others—his personal experience will help thousands of new bloggers learn how to create websites and improve their lives.

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