DuckDuckGo entered the search engine game in 2008, and it is averaging almost 1.5 million average direct queries per day and announcing system upgrades less than four years later.

The technology is simple: DuckDuckGo gathers results from crowd-sourced websites, such as Wikipedia and direct-competitor Bing, to display a host of search findings. It started as a privacy-conscious alternative to Google.

The chart to the right illustrates DuckDuckGo’s momentum. It just passed the 1 million mark last month, jumping from 630,441 average daily queries in January 2011 to 1,041,493 in February. Current calculations place the search engine at 1,468,690 average daily queries.

Due to the search engine’s success, Founder Gabriel Weinberg announced two major projects underway today that include better programming and speed. The company is even open sourcing more heavily and improving entry points.

“For speed, just this week we upgraded our whole caching system, which should significantly speed up a lot of queries,” wrote Weinberg on Hacker News. “This change should equalize a lot of the location differences, which is the main issue. In some parts of the world we were way slower.”

DuckDuckGo earns money through contextual advertising. If a user searches for “Orlando,” a single sponsored link will then appear about the popular family vacation spot. Google also practices contextual advertising, except it goes one-step further and collects information to serve targeted ads.

Unlike Google’s controversial privacy policy, DuckDuckGo’s policy is straightforward: “DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.”

The search engine launched a website in 2011 called “” that vividly depicts how Google tracks its searchers while showing how DuckDuckGo does otherwise. That same year, TIME magazine’s list of the best websites featured DuckDuckGo.

Despite its success and seemingly effective Google-bashing strategy, the Little Search Engine That Could has a long way to go before toppling the behemoth Internet giant. The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company reaps over 1 billion searches daily, according to Google’s Inside Search website. Twenty percent of those unique queries are new every day.

Google applies over 1 million computing hours to prepare its index while having answered 450 billion new unique queries since 2003. It even implemented more than 1,000 years into developing the Google search algorithm, and it offers Instant Preview for loading search results in one-tenth of a second on average. Moreover, Google increased its index size by billions of documents within the last year alone.

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