Meta Search Engines : Why Use Them? Still Important?

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Engines which work on top of search engines has been a growing area ever since Web Search went mainstream.

Most meta-search engines use content from the top engines – Google, Yahoo or Live Search and many also refer to content specific sources such as Flickr, PicSearch for image search. Infact, DogPile was one of the first search engines to offer keyword targeted advertising, via keyword targeted banners; before Yahoo Search Marketing ( or Google AdWords existed.

The question here is – are meta search engines of any value today when search itself seems a saturated market. Here are my reasons:

Knowing the Difference

No search engine is perfect. While it is true that many queries can be answered in a succinct line or two, in-depth details on any topic from relevant sources takes research and research entails reference to more than one source.

Search Engines as the Rudimentary OS on the Web

From the desktop perspective, an Operating System is defined as “the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer (Web) and provides programmers (Users) with an interface used to access those resources.” The definition does neatly fit into what the Search Engines are doing on the net today. Meta Search engines are essentially applications that sit on top of this OS for the Web, applying and integrating still more innovations on to those engines.

Looking from this perspective, the present day mainstream engines are performing the rudimentary operations of Operating Systems. Just like the OS is not about a bunch a device drivers, meta search engines have their utility.

TestBed for Innovation

The Web is a massive set of data. The single largest repository (in loose terms) of content. The time that it takes to start on a venture as scalable as the Web is also a prime factor why there have been brilliant ideas in the waiting to take off for quite some time now. Trawling content on the web is a mammoth task. And it is that task which is really an issue with newer web search technologies (no wonder up-coming engines have been so long in incubation period). Meta-search engines are testbeds of innovation. Successful strategies will span out and scale out in future.

Why Re-invent the Wheel

The fact that Yahoo, Google Live and account for 99% of Web search goes to say that they are doing more than a commendable job of indexing content on the Web. So why re-invent the wheel?

If I were to start a search engine based around a new technology, why not use the top 50 results from these engines and then in course of time scale up. To that extent, new engines using the results trawled by the biggies is effectively a good way to save a lot of computing and intellectual effort.

These are but a few of the reasons why I believe Meta search engines are as important as from-the-ground-up engines.

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  • Bashar

    I think they tend to go with meta-search as it’s easier to implement, and I assume requires much less resources

  • Sourav

    Hi Arun,

    You have done well here to put some good on the terms I was looking for.

    But I disagree on few of the things. [Quote]Why Re-invent the Wheel ?[/Quote]

    Common! If I remember things correctly, Yahoo was the dominating force in SE world until Google came. And Google did reinvented for the better use and to be honest we still don’t know as to whether this is the right thing….as desire for betterment is always there.

    We never know some xyz or Wikipedia, comeup with something what will change the whole perception of the search world.

    I do see some value…but my concern will always be there…Good Company like Google, gets on top in 2 ways…One with determination, plan, and proper direction and the Secondly, they don’t get enough competition….

    So if no one challenging Google, then probably in 5-10 years from now we might reach a point where we will be forced by them to see what they want. But yes, they have done good and the future looks good……but we really need some healthy competition here……

    So I don’t see getting convinced with all these points…..


  • Arun Radhakrishnan

    Hi Sourav,

    My reference to ‘re-inventing the wheel ‘ was with reference to the indexing of data. The point was that start-ups in search had a better chance of proving a point by using the search indexes of the established players while working on the core technology alone.

  • Michael Lodispoto

    If you combine a meta search engine with community controls and a new way to rank websites then you have a recipe for success. Imagine voting and comments on the best results from Google, Yahoo and MSN, then a new and better ranking system. This is the way to go and EarthFrisk.Org is launching next Monday before Wiki’s new search!

  • Sourav

    I think Google has already started their work on this……

  • Michael Lodispoto

    We’re going active now – only a few things left to do but search is already functioning ( just need the simple ‘enter’ so people can just click enter rather than the search button. Google does not have a Democratic rating system at all. We have a new CV rating (Color Value) and also as of Monday are offering white label toolbars for sites and blogs so visitors can download their own toolbar and let their site visitors also have their own toolbars ( which helps them with traffic).
    The upcoming Wiki search also is attempting what we’ve done but not in the detail and without toolbars as we already have. The release for will be on Monday after these little bugs are worked out and the images and video searches are made more Meta. Right now they are not until Friday.

  • Firat Karakusoglu

    Hi Michael,

    I just looked your site “”. It seems good, especially for the first release it seems great.

    But, I wonder if you get any special license or any kind of permission to republish their results from “Google”,”Yahoo”, etc.

    Thanks in advance,

  • FuzzFind Administrator

    Hi Arun,

    We’ve just launched a web search service called (, a mashup that combines the power of the major search engines and social bookmarking sites to make it easier to find and identify the most relevant information.

    Results are grouped together and sorted according to the search engine rankings plus the popularity of the sites according to the social bookmarking community.

    There’s also a feature to allow you to tune and personalize the search results on-the-fly by simply adjusting the weight for each search source through the use of sliders.

    Please check it out, we welcome any feedback so that we can improve the service.


  • Sri

    Hi Arun

    We just launched a vertical search site around video games – We built most of it ground up.

    While its easy to use existing search engines and build a meta search engine on top of it, this approach does not work in many situations. For example in our case we value sites with a large collection of games more than popular game sites which may have information on just a few games.

    We also look for specific information on a game that a search engine may ignore. Publisher or platform information or ratings for a game from a specific site.

    Please check us out at and let me know what you think.


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