As metasearch sites improve their capabilities and become better known, the number of people using them will grow even vaster. Ensuring your web site gets found by metasearch engines can help you tap into an audience of millions. But what exactly IS a metasearch engine? How does it differ from the plain-vanilla variety? Paul takes a close look at the major players and tells you where THEY look for their results.
As metasearch engines improve their search capabilities, it's becoming more and more advantageous to be found in these engines. Why? Because more and more netizens are using these resources for one-stop searching. As the Internet continues to grow exponentially, metasearch engines enable users to simultaneously search more web real estate through one search box, rather than having to perform multiple searches from various sites.
According to a 1999 study by NEC Research, the largest single Internet search engine covers less than 17 percent of the web, whereas metasearch engines like Dogpile, MetaCrawler., and Mamma cover nearly 50 percent. Coupled with the fact that "71 percent of Internet users keep trying different search engines when they can't find what they're looking for on the web," according to a RealNames survey conducted earlier this year, it appears that the trend toward the use of metasearch sites will continue.
What exactly are metasearch engines? They are search sites without a local database that operate entirely by querying other search engines and directories. In other words, when you ask metasearch engines like Dogpile, MetaCrawler, and Mamma to search for something, they, in turn, ask search engines to search for what you're looking for. A metasearch engine submits queries to more than a dozen of the web's leading search tools, including both search engines and directories, and the results are reported from all sources, usually after the metasearch engine parses and sorts results to check for duplicates.
The benefit to searchers is the ability to save time and effort by bringing many of the web's best search tools together in one place.
"What is so powerful about metasearch is that it highlights the strengths of all the contributing search engines. Partners like Google are great at delving deep into the web and picking up very specific content, whereas partners like About.com and LookSmart rely on their editors to select the best the web has to offer," explained Tasha Soudah, group product manager for search at Go2Net Inc.
For your web site to appear in metasearch results, one or more of the search engines listed below must have previously listed your site in its index. The metasearch sites can't add, delete, change, or otherwise influence the presence or absence of your URLs in the engines and directories searched, although the owner/operator of an individual web site can modify his or her web listings by visiting Thunderstone and Open Directory.
Go2Net's MetaCrawler, one of the first metasearch engines, searches AltaVista, Excite, Google, and more than 10 other search tools. It sorts and displays results by relevancy and eliminates duplicates. Here is a list of databases searched by MetaCrawler:
Go2Net's second metasearch engine, Dogpile, also includes the Dogpile Web Catalog and Dogpile Open Directory. Dogpile searches LookSmart, Lycos, and Yahoo, in addition to a dozen other search engines, directories, and portals (listed below), and is organized a bit differently than MetaCrawler. Its results are all-inclusive and sorted by search engine, giving users a more comprehensive view of the web.
Here are the databases used by Dogpile:
As metasearch sites improve their capabilities and become better known, the number of people using them will grow even vaster. Ensuring your web site gets found by metasearch engines can help you tap into an audience of millions.
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Paul J. Bruemmer is CEO of Web-Ignite Corporation, a search engine optimization (SEO) and positioning provider. Founded in 1995, Web-Ignite has helped promote over 15,000 Web sites and was recognized by ICONOCAST as one of the top 10 most reputable SEO firms. Services include optimization, submission, registration, positioning, monitoring, maintenance, paid-inclusion, and paid-placement management for fixed monthly fees. Recent client testimonials report search engine traffic increased from 150 to 500 percent.
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