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The Web of Search Engines

By Aaron Turpen
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2004

Most people are unaware that the results of most search engine searches aren't necessarily from that search engine. The major search engines are a web of alliances, inter-trading, and cross-posting that can easily confuse their users.

Search engines get their results and their database information from various places. This list of the major engines gives an accounting of the current sources for their results. The list is presented in alphabetical order.

AltaVista - This engine provides its own results using a crawler-based database which trolls the web to index information. Paid results/listings come from Overture (below). Some editorial results come from the Open Directory (below).

AOL - The results of this engine are mainly pulled from Google (below) and paid results come from the same source. Some editorial results are also culled from the Open Directory (below).

Ask Jeeves - These results come from the little-known engine called Teoma (not listed here) while paid results come from Google (below). Some editorial results are also provided by the Open Directory (below).

Google - This engine provides its own results for both standard and paid listings. It is a crawler-based engine, much like AltaVista (above), trolling the web to index information. Some editorial results also come from the Open Directory (below).

LookSmart - This is a human-edited directory, much like Yahoo! (below). Paid results are also their own.

Lycos - This engine pulls results from AllTheWeb (not listed here), which is crawler-based. Paid results come from Overture(below) and Lycos' own.

MSN Search - This is a directory of human-edited results, but those results actually come from LookSmart (above). Paid listings are provided by Overture (below). Some editorial results also come from Inktomi (not listed).

Netscape Search - All results on this engine come from Google (above).

Overture - Listed here, despite it's not being a search engine, Overture is the provider of results for many other engines and warrants listing. It is a pay-per-click engine.

Open Directory (DMOZ) - This human-edited directory is also the base of many results found on the Web. It is based on volunteer indexers and provides no paid listings.

Yahoo! - the most well-known of the search engines (it is actually a directory), is human-edited and gets paid results from Overture (above).

Hopefully this short guide will give you an idea of the complicated connections between one engine and another. Many who are new to search engine submission and listing are unaware of these interconnections. Sometimes getting listed can be frustrating if you don't have the information you need.

About the Author
Aaron Turpen is the proprieter of Aaronz WebWorkz, a full- service provider of Web needs to small businesses. (


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