Online Marketing & Digital Marketing

How Meta Search Engines Are Changing Web Searches

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By Berta Ventura, on 11 October 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, staying ahead of the competition means exploring innovative tools and strategies. One game-changing tool is meta search engines. In marketing, leveraging meta search engines can unlock new opportunities for market research, competitor analysis, and effective SEO strategies.

In this article, we will delve into the world of meta search engines and how they can be harnessed to gain a competitive edge in the digital marketplace.

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How Meta Search Engines Are Changing Web Searches

What Is a Meta Search Engine?

A meta-search engine is one that aggregates results from a number of other search engines, providing users with more comprehensive results. It draws on data from different search engines to generate its own results in a single master list.

Differences Between Search Engines and Meta Search Engines

The objective of a regular search engine and a meta search engine is the same: to provide users with answers that meet their needs.

However, unlike a search engine, a meta search engine does not have its own database, since the information it displays is extracted from other search engines.

Search speed also varies. Generally, search engines offer a much faster response than meta search engines, since the latter must compile the most important information from each search engine. Nevertheless, using a meta search engine can end up saving you time by bringing together information from different search engines in one place.

Meta search engines can make the mistake of duplicating results, which can be a bit disconcerting for the user and interfere with the quality of your search.

But, because of the way they work, meta search engines allow users to have access to much more complete information than they could find in a single search engine.

How Meta Search Engines Work

The operation of a meta search engine is quite simple. These tools simultaneously consult different search engines, compile the results they provide, and present them to the user on their interface. When presenting the results, the meta search engine processes, filters, and classifying the information through its own algorithms.

How Do Meta Search Creators Make Money?

Generally, there are two ways in which meta search engines can make money. The first is through the space on their website that they dedicate to advertising. The second is a commission that they take every time a user clicks on one of their links. In short, they are paid for redirecting users to websites, although sometimes the commission only goes through if the user makes a purchase.

The Best Known Meta Search Engines

The first meta search engine was created in 1995 and still exists today. It is called MetaCrawler and was developed by the University of Washington, functioning like any of its predecessors.

Nowadays, there are different types of meta search engines, but the most common exist in two very specific niches: employment and tourism. Generally, search engines are developed for very specific areas. It is less common to see them used for generic searches such as those carried out in search engines (although they do exist).

Generic Meta Search Engines

Apart from the first meta search engine, the best known are Startpage, DuckDuckGo, and Dogpile. As generic meta search engines we recommend them if you are looking for general information on a topic that you do not intend to go very deep into.

Employment Meta Search Engines

Employment meta search engines are the most used together with travel meta search engines. They allow users to save a great deal of time and avoid going from search engine to search engine looking for different offers. In addition, they have filters so that users can search and segment according to salary, type of position, desired working day, etc. Many of these meta search engines are even directly connected to LinkedIn to facilitate the user's application to the job offer.

This is the most widely used meta search engine for jobs, but we can also find others such as Jobrapido, Trovit, Jobatus, Opcionempleo or Jooble.

Travel Meta Search Engines

Let's look at meta search engines that focus on comparing flights, hotels, car rentals, activities, etc. You may not have known that sites like Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo or Trivago, among others are considered meta search engines.

It is important not to confuse travel meta search engines with OTAS (online travel agencies). The latter group includes websites such as Booking. They are sometimes confused with meta search engines, but their operation is different, since they make money by buying stock and selling it cheaper, obtaining profits through a small commission imposed on the hotel (for example).

Other Types of Meta Search Engines

  • Academic meta search engines: These are widely used by students to find reliable scientific and academic sources. Google Scholar is the best known, but others such as BASE or Microsoft Academic are also widely used.
  • News meta search engines: The most positive aspect is that, by gathering different news from different sources, users can enjoy a broader, more balanced, and less biased view of current affairs. Metanews, Newsnow and Newslookup are the best known.
  • Shopping metasearch engines: These are very useful if you want to compare prices and product features on different platforms. Google Shopping is the best known, though there are others.

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