Saturday, March 1, 2008

Metacrawlers and Metasearch Engines

Unlike search engines, metacrawlers don't crawl the web themselves to build listings. Instead, they allow searches to be sent to several search engines all at once. The results are then blended together onto one page. Below are some of the major metacrawlers. Also see the Search Toolbars & Utilities page for metacrawler-style software that you can run from your desktop.

Some of the major meta search engines


Popular metasearch site owned by InfoSpace that sends a search to a customizable list of search engines, directories and specialty search sites, then displays results from each search engine individually.


Enter a search term, and Vivismo will not only pull back matching responses from major search engines but also automatically organize the pages into categories. Slick and easy to use.


If you like the idea of seeing your web results visually, this meta search site shows the results with sites being interconnected by keywords.


Founded in 1996, is one of the oldest meta search engines on the web. Mamma searches against a variety of major crawlers, directories and specialty search sites.


Searches against major engines or provides those who open free accounts the ability to chose from a list of hundreds. Using the "SiteSnaps" feature, you can preview any page in the results and see where your terms appear in the document. Allows results or documents to be saved for future use.

Other Top Choices


Clusty, from Vivisimo, presents both standard web search results and Vivisimo's dynamic clusters that automatically categorize results. Clusty allows you to use Vivisimo's dynamic clustering technology on ten different types of web content including material from the web, image, weblog and shopping databases.


Meta search engine for the US and several European countries, as well as in various subject areas. Has ability to save your results for easy rerunning at a future point.


Formerly a crawled-based search engine, Excite was acquired by InfoSpace in 2002 and uses the same underlying technology as the other InfoSpace meta search engines, but maintains its own portal features.


Fazzle offers a highly flexible and customizable interface to a wide variety of information sources, ranging from general web results to specialized search resources in a number of subject specific categories. Formerly called SearchOnline.


Gimenei queries an undisclosed number of search engines and removes duplicates from results. Its most useful feature is an advanced search form that allows you to limit your search to a specific country.


Meta search engine with thumbnail displays. The Quick View display, similar to what WiseNut has long offered, is cool. The service queries WiseNut, Yahoo, Teoma and then somewhat repetitively also includes Yahoo-powered MSN, AltaVista and AllTheWeb. Disclosure of search sources within the actual search results is not done, sadly. Makes it hard to know exactly where the results are coming from. provides results from 14 search engines and pay-per-click directories, including Google, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Kanoodle, LookSmart, About, Overture and Open Directory. Also offers shopping, news, eBay, audio and video search, as well as a number of other interesting features. (Review: New Metasearch Engine: Search Engine Watch Blog, Oct. 18, 2004)


In a compact format, InfoGrid provides direct links to major search sites and topical web sites in different categories. Meta search and news searching is also offered.

Infonetware RealTerm Search

This site is primarily designed to demonstrate classification technology from Infogistics. It's a meta search engine, and it does topical classification of results, like Vivisimo. However, it is unique in that you can select several different topics, then "drill down" to see results from all of them, rather than being restricted to the results from only one topic.


Meta search engine that ranks results based on the number of "top 10" rankings a site receives from the various search engines.


iZito is a meta search engine with a clever feature. Click on any listing you are interested in using the P icon next to the listing title. That "parks" the listing into your to do list. Click on the P tab, and you can see all the pages you've culled. It's an easy, handy way to make a custom result set. Also interesting is the ability to show listings in up to three columns across the screen, letting you see more results at once. (Review: iZito & Ujiko: Meta Search With Personality Search Engine Watch Blog, Sept. 29, 2004)


This search result comparison tool is cool. It allows you to search two major search engines at the same time, then see results that are found on both first, followed by results found on only one of them next. The small overlap visual tool displayed is great. I used to make examples like this to explain search engine overlap and why one search engine may not cover everything. Now I have an easy dynamic way to do this.


Meta search with the ability to create an "exclusion list" to block pages from particular web sites being included. For example, want to meta search only against .org sites? French version also offered.


One of the oldest meta search services, MetaCrawler began in July 1995 at the University of Washington. MetaCrawler was purchased by InfoSpace, an online content provider, in Feb. 97.


Search against several major search engines and paid listings services. Offers a nice option to see Alexa info about pages that are listed.


Brings back listings from several major search engines as well as "Invisible Web" resources. Formerly based at the University of Kansas, the site was purchased by search company Intelliseek in April 2000.

Query Server

Search against major web-wide search engines, as well as major news, health, money and government search services.


Turbo10 is a metasearch Engine accesses both traditional web search engines and some invisible web databases, with a very speedy interface. is a meta search engine operated by CNET. It offers both web-wide search and a wide variety of specialty search options. absorbed SavvySearch in October 1999. SavvySearch was one of the older metasearch services, around since May 1995 and formerly based at Colorado State University.


From the makers of visual meta search tool KartOO, this is a really slick service to try. Do your search, then scroll through the list. See something bad? Click the trash can icon, and the listing goes away. It's a great way to prune your results -- even better would have been if everything trashed brought up something new to look at. That would be a help for those who simply refuse to go past the first page of results.


Formerly a crawled-based search engine owned by Excite, Webcrawler was acquired by InfoSpace in 2002 and uses the same underlying technology as the other InfoSpace meta search engines, but offers a fast and clean, ad-free interface.


Provides a variety of ways to sort the results retrieved, plus provides interesting visualization tools and other features.

Specialty Choices
The metacrawlers listed below let you meta search in specific subject areas.

Family Friendly Search

Meta search service that queries major kid-friendly search engines.


Meta search service for licensed and commercially available digital media downloads including music, movies, music videos, ringtones, mobile games and PC games, searching over 12 million media files.

Searches 15 U.K. engines. The advanced search form allows you to change the order that results are presented, either by speed or manually to suit your own preferences.

Watson for the Macintosh

Watson is a "Swiss Army Knife" with nineteen interfaces to web content and services -- an improvement on Sherlock, with nearly twice as many tools, including Google Searching.

All-In-One Search Pages
Unlike metacrawlers, all-in-one search pages do not send your query to many search engines at the same time. Instead, they generally list a wide-variety of search engines and allow you to search at your choice without having to go directly to that search engine.

Google Versus Yahoo Tool

See visually how results compare on Google versus Yahoo.

One Page MultiSearch Engines

Clean interface lets you query major services from one page.


Lets you easily send your search to one of several search engines. It also has links to search engine help pages.


Queryster lets you quickly get results from one of several major search engines, simply by clicking an icon.


Select your search engines from the many choices offered. The results will all appear within one page, side-by-side. It's a great way to compare results, though a bit hard to read with more than two search engines selected.

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