Meta-search engine is a web-based service that aggregates data from a number of search engines. A meta search engine doesn't have a database of indexed pages of its own. Instead it "sends a user's query to multiple search engines and blends the top results from each into one overall list."
Being in Search Engine Marketing, you may want to know how meta-search engines work, so here's a good reference source for you.
Some helpful features meta-search engines offer are:
- search results clustering (i.e. search term grouping and classification based on the word derivations and phrases). Like I previously suggested, this feature can be effectively used for keyword research and brainstorming);
- related term suggestions (also used for expanding keyword lists);
- search terms linguistic and textual analysis (e.g. keyword definitions).
Besides, some newly launched meta-search tools offer a few really creative and innovative approaches: combining regular search engines and social media sites (e.g. FuzzFind) or outlining the results on a map showing the links between different search engines (Langreiter.com) , etc.
However, most (if not all) meta-search tools are no better than an individual search engine as neither of them seemed to develop an effective blending technology and relevancy leaves much to be desired:
|Search engines||Main feature||More options||Advanced search abilities||
Relevance (my take)
|Other search types|
|Clusty||Ask.com, Gigablast, Live, NY Times, ODP, Shopzilla, Yahoo news, Yahoo stocks||Term clusters||TLD stats||Boolean operators (OR, -, +), filetype and language restricted search||Low, too many "sponsored results"||News,images, logs, shops|
|DogPile||Google, Yahoo, Ask, Live||Search suggestions (related terms); recent searches||-||Boolean operators ("", -)||High||Images, audio, video, news, Yellow Pages, White Pages|
|IxQuick|| All the Web, Exalead, Qkport,
Ask, Gigablast, Wikipedia,
Bebo, MSN, Winzy,
CNN, NBC, Yahoo,
|"Star" system (the more stars = the more search engines agree on the listing rankings).||Multiple language support||Boolean operators (OR, -, +)||High||Video, images|
|IBoogie||AllTheWeb, MSN||Term clusters||"Add your source" option||-||Low||Images, news|
|Kartoo||N/A||Search results on a map||Term clustering||-||Low||Images, video|
|SurfWax||CNN, Yahoo news, HotBot, ODP, Yahoo news, MSN, AllTheWeb||Snapping = displaying the summary of the page containing the search query||-||No||Moderate||-|
|Mamma||Ask.com, About.com, Entireweb, Business.com, Gigablast, Wisenut, ODP||Add/ Exclude any of the search engines||"Refine your query" search suggestions||Boolean operators ("", -, +),||Moderate||Video, Yellow Pages, White Pages|
|Search||Google, Ask.com, MSN, ODP||-||"Narrow/ Expand Your Search" search suggestions||Boolean operators (OR, -, +, ""), filetype, language, update time, linkdomain restricted search||Moderate||Images, video, people, shopping, music, news, games|
|Meta Crawler||Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask||-||Preferences: Bold search on/off, recent searches on/off||Boolean operators (OR, -, +, "")||Moderate, too many "sponsored results"||Images, audio, video, news, Yellow Pages, White Pages|
|Fuzz Find||Google, Yahoo and MSN and from Del.icio.us||Sort the results based on any of the sources||-||No||High||No|
So does meta-search have any future? Well, it does. In today's web 2.0 (and emerging web 3.0) Internet there are plenty of promising ways for meta-search to evolve:
- aggregate data from several search engines and rate them based on social media voting (e.g. Yoople);
- blend several social bookmarking services;
- make up a really unique blending and ranking algorithm;
- aggregate data from different vertical search engines, etc.
Ann Smarty is a search engine and social media consultant blogging at Search Engine Journal and offering SEO consulting services.