Three months ago, I started using ddg instead of Google. I'm quite disappointed:
- search speed is slow. Instead of <1s, it's often more like 2-3 seconds.
- search quality is adequate to quite bad. Example: "amazing spiderman rotten" (I was looking for the rotten tomatoes page for that movie that just came out, entered a typo) gave the right page for google, while the right page is not amongst the 20 top results in ddg.
- while ddg says that they don't track me, the still insist in not using direct links in their search results, but indirect results (via duckduckgo.com/l/u?=...). Not only is this insincere, it also messes up my browser history: when I visit a page through ddg, Safari lists that strange ddg url in the browser history instead of the target page.
Now, Gabriel was succesful at "aquiring" me. I tried it out. For a long time. And I'm on the verge of leaving. Why? because he failed at building a good product.
But maybe that is exactly why he is failing. He is focusing very much on these other "most likely cases of failing", while ignoring the very reason he is failing in this instance.
--edit: examples, conclusion.
I'm sorry to hear about your disappointment, but all those things are things we're of course actively working on. If you want to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'd love to get to the bottom of them.
--Speed has improved a lot in the past three months. Where are you located? I'd love to trace this down. 2-3sec is way outside the norm and our internal metrics show much, much lower.
--Same with search quality. We'd love specific examples if you remember any: https://duckduckgo.com/feedback.html -- that's the best way we improve. Are you using a region setting?
Maybe you could add some special "dissatisfying results" button or something like that where we just can enter the keyphrase and a short line what Google did better. Or I wouldn't even mind activating some track-me option occasionally if it would help you guys improve your results. Just let us know how we can help making DDG better.
So why, exactly, don't you like Google?
We are planning on making that interface better, but if you or anyone else would like to help out before (it really really helps) we'd appreciate compiling a list over a week or so and then sending it in.
- I'm located in Switzerland.
- Search example that failed are numerous, I added one to my original post.
- while that setting did indeed do the trick, I contest your default setting. I delete my cookies quite frequently, which will kill those settings. I see that you're trying something good with that feature (preserve my query string from reaching the target site). In this case, your implementation is just not good enough. You should not mess up my browser history in any case. Can't you do this differently?
For the record, perhaps you got the wrong idea from the post (looking at your new conclusion). At DuckDuckGo, I've tried to avoid these mistakes as best I can.
From the growth graphs that Gabriel has posted, he clearly NOT failed at building a good product. Could it be better? Absolutely.
I tried this in DDG. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) for Rotten Tomatoes appears in the zero-click info box. I wonder if that was done in response to your comment, or if it's been like that all along. From using Google, it took me a long time to get used to the info box, as I'd somehow mentally ignore it even though it was always starting me right in the face.
The real tricky part though is figuring out how to use each traction approach (the article calls them verticals) properly. For example, in my first three years of business, I learned a bunch of hard lessons here. These include:
1) Most advertising doesn't work unless people already know of you. Push your advertising later. Advertising that does work at that stage is that which has a personal feel to it (like infomercials).
2) PR is golden. Go for it at every opportunity.
3) Your biggest friend is your competition. If you can reach out and build good relationships with folks who are already in the field, that is support that can't be underrated. I thought at first that this was specific to smaller businesses but it turns out that the more I look into it, the more many successful businesses of all size do it, and do well because of it.
4) Public service announcements are very good as well. If you are just doing tech support, and the local radio station has an open hour or so, call up every time there is a major virus outbreak and let folks know. Or buy advertisement space in these cases, or the like.
I dont get this. For example how can Google gain anything by maintaining a really good relationship with Bing.(which in fact they dont!)
Conversely,it seems like you can build traction by picking fights with your competition.Ex Tesla vs Edison, Google vs Bing, Apple vs Microsoft.
To me this and the traction verticals stuff on this blog are absolute gold.
Anything that breaks 'getting traction' down into an analytical approach is great, and much more actionable than most of the fluff that passes through here. Fantastic article.
Just like I can use the principles of Agile Software Development to build my product, I would love something similar for marketing.
I know there are many theories - AARRR from Dave McClure is one that jumps to mind, along with the long-tail of SEO landing pages like BCC & Patio11....but there isn't a coherent, or rather I don't know of one, framework that pulls it altogether.
Anyone care to take a stab at this?
I am sure many founders would find this immensely useful.
Not that I am saying your approach is not good, it sure is. It adds to the body of knowledge on how people get traction.
But just like how someone sat down and came up with best practices like Test Driven Development and the Agile Manifesto and Customer Development and Building a Lean Startup.
I would like something similar for customer acquisition and growth hacking.
Thanks for the feedback!
I imagine there's a GW post yet to be written  on the related point that some problems are harder than others (e.g., search >>> picture-sharing-app), and the complete lack of correlation between effort and value (DDG <<< Instagram, at least so far) .
But line that I didn't fully understand was:
I believe distribution is equally important as product. That means quite literally you should be spending 50% of your time on it. For tech people, you should probably bias it to 75% so you end up getting to equal in the end.
What exactly does "distribution" mean in this context?
 or maybe there already is such a post..
 yes, I know there are many reasons for this, search is valuable, etc.
Distribution means a method for getting your product to the customers who need it.
Imagine slaving away for years, building the perfect solution to the biggest problem, only to never have anyone discover it because you never put any effort in figuring out how to reach your customers.
A distribution channel can be anything from the AppStore/Steam, to advertising, to door-to-door sales, to engaging users in a niche news forum, to referral/affiliate schemes, and so forth. Ideally, it's something that closely and effectively targets your ideal customer with the exact problem you're solving.
How do you determine if your product is something people don't really want? I'm looking for my hypothetical early adopters(new and young restaurant owners) and a lot of the older restaurant owners don't care too much about the product. How do you determine whether your product is not ready for the mainstream or whether people just don't care about the problem and/or solution?
Ask for payment. This will quickly sort out if a product solves a problem that people care about.
"You want a lot of things. You want an A in this class. You want a trip to Hawaii. You want a tasty lunch. And you want all of those things ... 'a lot.' Well, I'm economist, I'm trying to be a scientist. I can't measure 'a lot.' What I can measure is - what are you willing to give up in order to get the things you want?"
I didn't take economics at Uni, but I certainly noticed a corollary of 'desire' for object and payment as a kid. The lack of money required you work out some scheme to make money to buy or your hack your own.
Currently, we have the problem that somehow majority of people signing up to our service are not at all potential customers.
The main problem for us that majority of blogs and advices we got are actually about how to acquire customers in consumer segment.
There is very little blogs on how to acquire customers which are small businesses via internet.
The real question is did you find the rest of his information useless, if you did, then does it matter if he has an actual statistic here? If you didn't find it useful, would the citation make a difference at all?
I'm just saying it seems like a weird thing to focus on in the scope of this entire article. It probably wouldn't destroy the entire reading experience if you just mentally said "He probably meant 'Many'..." and kept reading to see what was important in the article.