Track DuckDuckGo as a search engine in Google Universal Analytics


DuckDuckGo logoDuckDuckGo is an alternative search engine that promotes its virtue of offering its users anonymity. It enjoyed increased interest after the NSA data tracking news broke.

Google Analytics and Universal Analytics don’t currently treat DuckDuckGo as a search engine. This is presumably due to its insignificant market share. DuckDuckGo will appear in the Referral Traffic report (Standard Reports → Traffic Sources → Sources → Referrals) while it should really be in the Organic Search Traffic report (Standard Reports → Traffic Sources → Sources → Search → Organic). The problem is easy to fix. First define DuckDuckGo as a search engine for each Universal Analytics property in an Account. Google says,

  1. Navigate to a property. If you’re not in the settings menu, click Admin. Select the account and property you want to edit.
  2. From the property column, click Tracking Info then Organic Search Sources.
  3. Click +Add Search Engine.
  4. In the form, specify what the Domain Name Contains and the Query Parameter. You can also specify a Search Engine Name and what the Path Contains.
  5. Click Create.
DuckDuckGo search engine definition in Google Universal Analytics
Figure 1: DuckDuckGo search engine definition in Google Universal Analytics

Note: users of the older asynchronous ga.js tracking code can specify DuckDuckGo in the tracking code added to each web page:

_gaq.push (['_addOrganic', 'duckduckgo', 'uddg']);
_gaq.push (['_trackPageview']);

As DuckDuckGo touts user privacy as one of its core attributes, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the DuckDuckGo referrer doesn’t contain any keyword phrase information. We’ve specified the parameter uddg as Google Analytics requires a parameter to differentiate from potential non-search traffic. The contents of uddg, the site landing page URL, will appear as keywords in the organic search traffic report, probably not a very good idea. View Filters, formerly Profile Filters, can be used to transform the data into something more correct, such as (not provided – duckduckgo) or simply (not provided) if you prefer.

In the Google Analytics Administration Area, choose Filters under Views. Choose New Filter. Define the filter as follows:

DuckDuckGo search engine view filter definition in Google Universal Analytics

Click on Save and apply the filter to Views within the Account property as appropriate. Note: a best practice is to maintain at least a view without any filters. Filters permanently transform collected data. While this filter works for us, it is offered here without any representation as to its correctness or fitness for purpose. Use at your own risk.

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About Sean Carlos

Sean Carlos is a digital marketing consultant & teacher, assisting companies with their Search (SEO + SEA = SEM), Social Media & Digital Media Analytics strategies. Sean first worked with text indexing in 1990 in a project for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since then he worked for Hewlett-Packard Consulting and later as IT Manager of a real estate website before founding Antezeta in 2006. Sean is an official instructor of the Digital Analytics Association and collaborates with the Bocconi University. He is Chairman of the SMX Search and Social Media Conference, 12 & 13 November in Milan. He is also a co-author of the Treccani encyclopedic dictionary of computer science, ICT & digital media. Born in Providence, RI, USA, Sean received Honors in Physics from Bates College, Maine. He speaks English, Italian and German.