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Meta Search Engines

NOTE: This page on meta search engines is not maintained. For an updated discussion on Meta Search Engines, please refer to the current vesrion of the Search Engine Yearbook.

What are "meta search engines"?

A meta search engine looks a lot like a regular search engine when you arrive at the main search page.

But there is a BIG difference below the surface.

A meta engine typically does not have its own database of indexed web sites. It takes your search query, runs off to a number of "real" search engines and displays a list of results from all of them. That could be great - more search results from more sources - great for finding obscure information, right?


The problem with meta search engines

They are a commendable effort, but very seldom does a search on a meta engine provide better results.

Apart from major limitations like the absence of advanced search and the real possibility of timeouts, they often retrieve only to top 10, top 50 or top 100 results from each search engine. You end up with fewer results than you would if you searched directly at one of the engines it queries.

Phrase and Boolean searching are rarely processed correctly, because the search engines being queried implement it differently.

Some of the more popular meta search engines

Dogpile searches an impressive list of sources:

LookSmart, Overture, Thunderstone, Yahoo, Open Directory,, Lycos' Top 5%, Direct Hit, and AltaVista. It offers other searches for Usenet, FTP, News Wires, Business News, Stock Quotes, Weather, Yellow Pages, White Pages, and maps.

The wide reach and ability to customize results makes Dogpile one of the most popular meta search engines.

" is the largest independently owned metasearch engine on the Internet.
· is a Nielsen/NetRatings Top 10 Search Engine.
· is a Media Metrix 500 Company.
· reaches over 7,000,000 unique users per month.
· returns results for over 30,000,000 searches per month.
· provides its search functionality to over 13,000 third party websites.
· further increases its reach with over 100 major strategic alliances."

Mamma also has its own "Mamma Collection" -a quality, human reviewed collection of web sites. Once your site is added to this collection, it receives a ranking boost in normal search results at Mamma.

Submitting your site to the Mamma collection is not free. You have a choice of "Velocity Submit" and "Standard Submit"

Velocity Submit
Your site is reviewed within 2 business days. The price is $59.99 with a $19.99 annual subscription.

Standard Submit
Your site is reviewed within 8 weeks. The price is $29.99 - again with a $19.99 annual subscription.

NOTE: paying to have your site reviewed does not guarantee that it will be included in the Mamma Collection - only that it will be considered for inclusion. If you have a quality site with no dead links or images, your chances of getting in are good. (previously "Cyber 411")

The C4 engine offers a deceptive "Submit Your Site" link. Deceptive because it takes you to a page where you choose between 2 "instant submit" services that they claim not only submits your site to many engines, but also optimizes your site for maximum traffic - (and I'm the king of England).

More about instant submit in Section 3 of this book.

C4's "Search the Web" function provides you with the ability to search using Alta Vista, Lycos, FindWhat, Kanoodle, Yahooligans, Ah-Ha, Sprinks, MSN, GoTo, and HotBot.

A big plus is that C4 allows you to register (for free) and then customize it, giving you custom search preferences, e-mail and "portable bookmarks". The registration form asks far too many questions though.
What do they want a physical address for?


A neat, uncluttered homepage and a French/English language option.
In the English version, it uses AltaVista, Yahoo, Excite and Lycos.
In the French version, it uses Yahoo France, PagesWeb, Ecila, Infoseek France, Excite France and Lokace.

Search Engine Book: Search Engine Year BookThis page is based on information contained in the Search Engine Yearbook 2003. For more detailed search engine information & help, please refer to the current version of the book.

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