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- Ben Reeves
December 17, 2003, 12:58 pm
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Welcome to my Meta Search Guide!
The Meta Search Guide provides information about the ins and outs of
meta search engines. If you are looking for a review of the best and
worst meta search engines on the web you've come to the right place.
So what is a meta search engine?
Put simply it is a search engine that searches other search engines.
When you search on a meta search engine it queries a host of databases
simultaneously on your behalf and returns the results aggregated into
one list. Typically results from different search engines are mixed
together in the list or each search engines' results are reported
separately. There are of course variations in the meta search engine
offerings. Some so-called meta search engines only provide a
collection of links to the major search engines. Others claim to
search the engines but in reality only open up a window on a search
engine's behalf. These types of engines are not reviewed here as they
don't represent a significant advancement in the science of search.
A New Breed is Born
Of particular interest is the emergence of a relatively new breed of
meta search engine. It has been conceived (and indeed delivered) to
bridge the WWW information gap. There are many valuable databases on
websites that are over looked by the traditional search engines. To
date the major search engines index only a fraction of the entire
information on the web index the web. This is because traditional
search engines use crawlers to index the web - however a wealth of
information lies in searchable databases that cannot be accessed by
This 'information gap' is also known in the industry as the deep web,
deep space, deep sea or invisible web (if you can think of another
analogy let me know and I'll post it). I don't particularly like the
last analogy - invisible web - as the information is visible on the
web you just need to know where to look...so make sure you read on.
Deep Space Searching
There are a few search engines that enable you to search the deep sea
on the web. The most intelligent deep web meta search engines are
those that can deliver web page results straight from a keyword query.
The majority of deep web meta search engines provide a two tiered
approach whereby the searcher first selects a category of deep space
search engines (e.g. Legal sites), followed by the second step which
requires the searcher to select a particular database (e.g. Australian
Law Society's searchable database).
Why use a meta search engine?
The major advantage of a meta search engine is the ability to access a
cross section of engines on the web thereby enhancing the coverage of
your search. With the introduction of deep web searching you can
significantly reduce your searching time for more complex queries.
However some meta search engines do take a while to return results and
meta search engines only return a subset of each search engines?
results which may prove limiting.
A good meta search engine is one that has a consistent and easy to use
interface that returns relevant results to you search queries. The
results set should provide significant coverage so that all your
searching can be be done in the one place. This is what makes the new
deep web meta search engines so useful - as searching goes beyond the
capability of traditional search engines.
When reviewing the meta search engines it was interesting to see how
many engines claimed to search a wide range of traditional search
engines but if you actually take the time to investigate the results
pages you'll see that a fair bit of bluffing is going on.
This guide reviews the deep space meta search engines and then reviews
the standard meta search engines. As always I appreciate your
comments. If you know of any meta search engines that should be in
this review, please let me know. If you are a site owner and would
like to discuss advertising opportunities just drop me a line.
Good luck with your meta search!
- Tony1that matters
December 17, 2003, 6:12 pm
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