10 Meta-Search Engines Reviewed and Compared

by Ann Smarty August 27th, 2008 

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,
EntireWeb, OPD
"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.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is a blogger and SEO consultant and professional blogger. Check out Ann's personal project My Blog Guest - the forum meant to connect guest bloggers to blog owner for plenty of mutual benefits. Ann also provides guest blogging services.


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18 Responses to “10 Meta-Search Engines Reviewed and Compared”

  1. Hmm you forgot Scour!
    They pay you to search (not much) and the interface is pretty slick.
    It does the big 3: Google, MSN, and Yahoo.

  2. travelcn says:

    "aggregate data from several search engines and rate them based on social media voting "
    This kind of search engine will be hot in the feature if it has good anti spam system.

  3. Metaspring says:

    I thought of Scour as well when I read the title of the post. Do you know how they compare, I am so used to googling for anything and everything that I would have to have good reason to make a shift.

  4. Utah SEO Pro says:

    Even though I don't use it often, Clusty's been my favorite. They were one of the first to have search result refinement links.

  5. doumiao says:

    i don't like meta-search engine, for i haven't find one better than Google until now.

  6. starpath says:

    70% of serchers start with Google. The advanced search features, personalisation and other incorporated services associated with Google login are tops at the moment in my view. Yahoo! and Live are following.

  7. Have you seen our AllPlus? It is a multidimensional meta search and discovery engine, with a pretty interesting UI.

  8. never use them on practice. what they do at all?

  9. ricky says:

    this is was what im loking for for my small blog thanks a lot but for me only matters google it's must

  10. SEO forums says:

    I also think Google is better that these meta search engines..

  11. old domains says:

    I have used search.com only when google failed to get interesting results. It's a great solutions if You are looking for some less popular informations or when You fail to search the thing You need on google. But I prefere google after all 😉

  12. seo guide says:

    So does meta-search have any future?
    Yes if they can be more innovative.
    For general search google is already doing a great job, if meta search engines want to gain the user they have to be innovative in a way which can attract people and be really relevant.

  13. seo guide says:

    "aggregate data from several search engines and rate them based on social media voting"

    I think this will work for sure if the search engine can attract more people by providing relevant results and find a way to prevent spam.
    "Search engine by people, search engine for people" doesn't it sounds good?!

  14. VMOptions says:

    I get a few visitors a month from Dogpile and from Search, but it's nothing to write home about. I'm actually shocked that some of the search engines are still around.

  15. skyline says:

    95% of my organic traffic is from Google. I've never been interested on the rest of the search engines. Should I ? am I wrong ignoring the rest ?

  16. Its hard to get visitors to switch search engines after they have been using one for a long time.

  17. You missed the fast metasearch engine eTools.ch from Switzerland that allows to weight each search engine individually, shows the results if needed by each engine individually and has a concise document cluster.