Don’t Google! Say Web Search

As a society, we’ve created a bad habit for ourselves. We use google as a verb to mean search. This is the influence of Google’s marketing department. There are other instances where this happens – photo-shopping for image editing, or xerox for photo copies – but lets stick with search for this article. So yes, it’s a thing. But it’s a weird thing – when you think about it – to make a company name or product into a verb, You become a de facto shill for them. Is that what you want? I don’t.

Don’t Say Google

Take the sentence, She googled rope knot tutorials last night. Google might not even be the right place to search, depending upon the subject matter. If you were on The Free Dictionary would you say I googled the definition of ‘plebeian’ for my article? Of course not, That would be super weird. Google grew successful because it’s approach was effective – accurate results, with a simple, clean interface. But things have changed. Google’s results today aren’t as good or as accurate, as they were 10 years ago. Their results pages have become much more crowded over time, as its business practices changed. Personalization and advertisements are the two main factors for the decline in quality of Googles results and user experience. I’d argue that habit is the primary driver that keeps people using Google. Gmail also keeps people anchored to Google. It’s time to start thinking about breaking the habit of using Google. Part of the solution, is to change they way you talk about search.

Say Web Search

DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and Bing are general web search engines you can use instead. DuckDuckGo is growing in popularity due to it’s focus on privacy. No matter which search engine you choose, say web searchinstead. It has the same number of syllables as goo-gle — exactly two. It has the additional benefit of being universally understood. Reusing our prior example – She web searched rope knot tutorials last night. You might also inquire to a colleague, Did you web search the error message? It’ll take some getting used to, to change your speaking habit. It’s worth the effort though. Soon a switch will flip, and you’ll find this way is more natural.

A cool feature of DuckDuckGo is bangs. A bang on DuckDuckGo is a keyword that that starts with an exclamation point (bang) to perform a site-specific search. DuckDuckGo will pass the query on to the specific site, represented by the bang. For example !wiki sarah michelle gellar will search for Ms. Gellar on Wikipedia, and send you directly to her wiki page. The bang !imdb Star Trek will send your query directly to the Internet Movie Database(IMDB). That’s pretty cool. What a great user experience! Good job DDG. Contrast that with Google, which will land you on their results page that has links to her IMDB page, Wikipedia page, a bunch of gossip/news articles, and a bunch of ads.


People are taking their privacy more seriously. They’re more aware of the high cost of free services like google. They’ve learned there’s more considerations than just money. The phrase if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product is sinking in. People are looking for alternatives to google products, it’s important to keep in mind how you talk about search. I admit it would be amusing to hear someone serious like Joe Biden to say duck it to mean search something with DuckDuckGo. But let’s not trade one company verb for another. Let’s just say web search or even just search, and learn from our mistake.

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