A guide to the most popular search engine providers and directories improve your chances of ranking well with Search Engine Positioning
In the search engine providers list below, Search Engine Positioning provides a guide to the major search engines of the web. Why are these considered to be “major” search engines? Because they are both well known and well used, both keys to driving tons of traffic to any site. Including yours.
Tips On Major Search Engine Providers
For searchers, well known, commercially-backed search engines generally mean more dependable results. These search engines are more likely to be well maintained and upgraded when necessary, to keep pace with the growing web.
On this page, you will see reference to “crawlers” and “crawler-based results” versus “directories” and “human-powered results.” These describe the two major ways that search engine providers get editorial listings. See the How Search Engines Work page to understand more about the difference between crawlers and directories.
Top Search Engine Providers Choices
The search engines below are all excellent choices to start with when searching for information
Voted three times Most Outstanding Search Engine Providers by Search Engine Watch readers, Google has a well deserved reputation as the top choice for those searching the web. The crawler-based service provides both comprehensive coverage along with great relevancy. It’s highly recommended as a first stop in your hunt for whatever you are looking for.
Google provides the option to find more than web pages, however. Using the “tabs” on the top of the search box on the Google home page, you can easily seek out images from across the web, discussions that are taking place on Usenet newsgroups, and scan through human compiled information provided from the Open Directory
Google is also know for the wide range of features it offers, such as cached links that let you “resurrect” dead pages or see older versions of recently changed ones. It offers excellent spell checking, easy access to dictionary definitions, integration of stock quotes, street maps, telephone numbers and more. See Google’s help page for an entire rundown on some of these features. The Google Toolbar has also won a popular following for the easy access it provides to Google and its features directly from the Internet Explorer browser.
In addition to Google’s unpaid editorial results, the company also operates its own advertising programs. The cost-per-click AdWords program places ads on Google as well as some of Google’s partners. Similarly, Google is also a provider of unpaid editorial results to some other search engines. For a list of major partnerships, see the Search Providers Chart.
Google was originally a Stanford University project by students Larry Page and Sergey Brin called BackRub. By 1998, the name had been changed to Google, and the project jumped off campus and became the private company Google. It remains privately held today.
An excellent crawler-based search engine, All The Web provides both comprehensive coverage of the web and outstanding relevancy. If you tried Google and didn’t find it, All The Web should probably be next on your list. Indeed, it’s a first stop search engine for some. In addition to web page results, AllTheWeb.com provides the ability to search for news stories, pictures, video clips, MP3s and FTP files.
Until recently, AllTheWeb.com was owned by a company called FAST and was used as a showcase for that company’s web search technology. That’s why you may sometimes hear AllTheWeb.com also referred to as FAST or FAST Search. However, the search engine was purchased by search provider Overture (see below) in late April 2003. It no longer has any connection with FAST.
Launched in 1994, Yahoo is the web’s oldest “directory,” a place where human editors organize web sites into categories. However, in October 2002, Yahoo made a giant shift to using Google’s crawler-based listings for its main results.
If Yahoo is now powered by Google, then why bother using it? For one thing, you might find that the way Yahoo “enhances” Google’s listings with information from its own directory may make search results more readable. See the Yahoo Renews With Google, Changes Results article from Search Engine Watch for more about this.
In addition, Yahoo’s search results pages still show Categories links. When offered, these will take you to a list of web sites that have been reviewed and approved by a human editor.
It’s also possible to do a pure search of just the human-compiled Yahoo Directory, which is how the old or “classic” Yahoo used to work. To do this, search from the Yahoo Directory home page, as opposed to the regular Yahoo.com home page. Then you’ll get both directory category links (“Related Directory Categories”) and “Directory Results,” which are the top web site matches drawn from all categories of the Yahoo Directory.
Sites pay a fee to be included in the Yahoo Directory’s commercial listings, though they must meet editor approval before being accepted. Non-commercial content is accepted for free.
Consider Yahoo any time you think you might be well served by having a list of human-reviewed web sites. It’s also a good choice for popular queries, since the category listings it provides may help you narrow in and refine your query. Doing a pure Yahoo Directory search also provides an unique human view of the web.
Finally, expect further changes at Yahoo throughout 2003, such as those that happened in April 2003, as described in the Yahoo Moves To Revitalize Search article from Search Engine Watch. The company completed its purchase of Inktomi in March 2003, a crawler-based rival to Google. More about the acquisition can be found in the Yahoo To Buy Inktomi article from Search Engine Watch. Thus, Inktomi results may appear at Yahoo in the near future.
Microsoft is known for constantly reworking its software products until they get them right, and bing Search is a shining example of the company putting that same effort into an online product. In particular, the company has its own team of editors that monitors the most popular searches being performed and then hand-picks sites that are believed to be the most relevant. After performing a search, “Popular Topics” shown below the search box on the results page are also suggestions built largely by editors to guide you into making a more refined search. When appropriate, search results may also feature links to encyclopedia content from Microsoft Encarta or news headlines, at the top of the page.
Of course, humans editors can’t do everything, so bing also relies on search providers for answers to many of its queries. Usually, it will be human-powered results from the LookSmart directory that dominate the page. Unlike when Bing editors are involved, these human-powered results are not hand-picked to match a query. Instead, MSN uses its own search algorithm to sift through all the listings from LookSmart to automatically find answers that are believed to be best. More about LookSmart is described below.
For more obscure queries, it is crawler-based results from Inktomi that are provided. More about Inktomi is described below. By the way, if you’d prefer to get “pure” Inktomi results via www.bing.com/ you’ll need to use the www.bing.com/page.
Overall, Bing Search provides a blend of human-powered directory information and crawler coverage different from any of the other top choices listed above. It’s a high quality resource that provides its own unique view of the web and one worth checking.
Search Engines to Strongly Consider
The search engines below are other good choices to consider when searching the web.
AOL Search provides users with editorial listings that come Google’s crawler-based index. Indeed, the same search on Google and AOL Search will come up with very similar matches. So, why would you use AOL Search? Primarily because you are an AOL user. The “internal” version of AOL Search provides links to content only available within the AOL online service. In this way, you can search AOL and the entire web at the same time. The “external” version lacks these links. Why wouldn’t you use AOL Search? If you like Google, many of Google’s features such as “cached” pages are not offered by AOL Search.
Ask Jeeves initially gained fame in 1998 and 1999 as being the “natural language” search engine that let you search by asking questions and responded with what seemed to be the right answer to everything.
In reality, technology wasn’t what made Ask Jeeves perform so well. Behind the scenes, the company at one point had about 100 editors who monitored search logs. They then went out onto the web and located what seemed to be the best sites to match the most popular queries.
Today, Ask Jeeves instead depends on crawler-based technology to provide results to its users. These results come from the Teoma search engine.
Ask Jeeves also owns the Direct Hit service, but results from Direct Hit are no longer offered to the public directly through the Direct Hit site
Teoma is a crawler-based search engine providers owned by Ask Jeeves. It has a smaller index of the web than its rival crawler-competitors Google, AllTheWeb.com, Inktomi and AltaVista. However, being large doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to popular queries, and Teoma’s won praise for its relevancy since it appeared in 2000. Some people also like its “Refine” feature, which offers suggested topics to explore after you do a search. The “Resources” section of results is also unique, pointing users to page that specifically serve as link resources about various topics. Teoma was purchased by Ask Jeeves in September 2001 and also provides some results to that web site.
Search Engine Providers
The companies below are really in the business of providing search results to other people, rather than hoping you’ll visit their own sites to search. They are listed here primarily to provide further explanation of how they partner with some of the search engines listed above.
Among the major search engines, Inktomi is the second-oldest crawler. It briefly operated as an experimental search engine at UC Berkeley. However, the creators then formed their own company in 1996 with the same name and gained their first customer, HotBot, in the middle of that year. The company then pursued a strategy of “powering” other search engine providers , rather than running its own branded service for the public.
Today, Inktomi continues to crawl the web. The company had been left behind by rivals Google and AllTheWeb.com in terms of comprehensiveness, but changes made in the summer of 2002 made it much more competitive. It was purchased by Yahoo in March 2003. Nevertheless, Yahoo-owned Inktomi still continues to provide results to Yahoo-rival Bing Search .
LookSmart is a human-compiled directory of web sites. The company does operate its own web site, but this really isn’t intended for the public to use. Instead, similar to Inktomi, LookSmart provides its results to other search engine providers that need listings.
LookSmart gathers its listings in two ways. Commercial sites pay to be listed in its commercial categories, making the service very much like an electronic “Yellow Pages.” However, volunteer editors at the LookSmart-owned Zeal directory also catalog sites into non-commercial categories for free. Though Zeal is a separate web site, its listings are integrated into LookSmart’s results.
LookSmart launched independently in October 1996, was backed by Reader’s Digest for about a year, and then company executives bought back control of the service.
LookSmart also bought the WiseNut crawler-based search engine providers in April 2002 (see below). It is expected that sometime in 2003, WiseNut’s results may become offered through the LookSmart web site, in addition to LookSmart’s traditional human-compiled listings.
Owned by AOL Time Warner, Netscape Search uses Google for its main listings, just as does AOL’s other major search site, AOL Search. So why use Netscape Search rather than Google? Unlike with AOL Search, there’s no compelling reason to consider it. The main difference between Netscape Search and Google is that Netscape Search will list some of Netscape’s own content at the top of its results. Netscape also has a completely different look and feel than Google. If you like either of these reasons, then try Netscape Search. Otherwise, you’re probably better off just searching at Google.
Like Teoma, WiseNut is a crawler-based search engine providers that attracted attention when it appeared on the scene in 2001. Like Teoma, WiseNut features good relevancy. Unlike Teoma, WiseNut has a large database, making it nearly as comprehensive as Google, AllTheWeb and Inktomi. However, the WiseNut database has consistently been months out of date. The search engine is supposed to be regularly updated sometime in 2003, when WiseNut’s owner LookSmart is promising to revamp the engine. LookSmart bought WiseNut in April 2002. If the revamp happens, then WiseNut may deliver on its initial promise.
Submission of your site to the world’s most popular search engine providers and directories( Facebook AltaVista, AOL,Bing, Overture, Ahha, iWON , HotBot,CNet, Google, LookSmart, Netscape Search and more).