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IST 497E Information Retrieval and Organization. Meta Search. Overview. What is a Meta Search Engine Features Differences Architecture Some Meta Search Engines Conclusions and Future ?. What is a Meta Search Engine ?. What is a Meta Search Engine ?. Traveling Further.

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ist 497e information retrieval and organization

IST 497E Information Retrieval and Organization

Meta Search

IST 497 E Meta-Search, Pradeep Teregowda

  • What is a Meta Search Engine
  • Features
  • Differences
  • Architecture
  • Some Meta Search Engines
  • Conclusions and Future ?
What is a Meta Search Engine ?

What is a Meta Search Engine ?

Traveling Further

Why Meta Search ?

what is a meta search engine
What Is a Meta Search Engine ?
  • Dictionary meaning for Meta:

“more comprehensive : transcending.”-

  • Simple Explanation

“A Meta Search engine allows you to search multiple search engines at once, returning more comprehensive and relevant results, fast.” –MetaCrawler {modified}

traveling further
Traveling Further
  • A little bit of History:
    • Started with Harvest (1995) –[Ref: Information Discovery and Access System – C. Mic Bowman et al].
      • Was developed for gathering information from repositories, building topic-specific content indexes, web-caching,flexible searching.
    • In many ways current Meta Search engines have similar aims.
why are meta search engines useful
Why Are Meta Search Engines Useful ?
  • Meta Search improves the Search Quality in many ways:
    • Comprehensive,
    • Efficient,
    • One query queries all {one-click paradigm},
why meta search
Why Meta Search ?
  • Individual Search engines don’t cover all the web by themselves,
  • Individual Search Engines are prone to spamming {people trying to raise their ranking profile. In a non-legitimate manner or to promote commerce},
  • Difficulty in deciding and obtaining results with combined searches on different search engines,
why meta search9
Why Meta Search ?
  • Data Fusion {multiple formats supported},
  • In Case of niche search engines provides the ‘big picture’,
  • Takes less effort.
  • Unifies the Search Interface and provides a consistent user interface,
  • Standardizes the query structure,
  • May make use of an independent ranking method for the results {rank-merging},
  • May have an independent ranking system for each search engine/database it searches,
  • Meta Search is not a search for Meta Data.

Differences {Search vs. Meta Search}.

differences search vs meta search
Differences {Search Vs. Meta-search}
  • Doesn’t generally have a Database by itself,
  • Does not search{crawl} the web.
    • A Meta-Search Engine in terms of search engine.
      • Essentially is a hub of search engines/databases accessible by a common interface providing the user with results which may/may not be ranked independently of the original search engine/source ranking.


A block representation,

What do those blocks do ?,









User Interface


S E 1

S E 2

S E 3



what do those blocks do
What Do Those Blocks Do ?
  • User Interface
    • Normally resemble search engine interfaces with options for
      • Types of search [Media]
      • Search Engines to Use
  • Dispatcher
    • Generates actual queries to the search engines by using the user query
    • May involve choosing/expanding search engines to use
what do those blocks do17
What Do Those Blocks Do ?
  • Display.
    • Generates Results page from the replies received, May involve ranking,parsing,clustering of the search results or just plain stitching.
  • Personalization/Knowledge.
    • May contain either or both. Personalization may involve weighting of search results/query/engine for each user.
  • STARTS { protocol }.
      • A simple protocol that text search engines should follow to facilitate searching and indexing multiple collections of text documents.
    • Choosing best source for a query,
    • Evaluating a query at those sources,
    • Merging the query results from them.
  • Inquirus: Expand Queries.

Ex: (What does Satellite stand for = Satellite stands for).

independent ranking
Independent Ranking
  • Stitch together the results [Dogpile],
  • Selection of a particular Search Engine based on a query – a meta index [SavySearch-Resource Balancing],
  • Rank merging based on Search Engine rating [MetaCrawler],
  • Context analysis for search results with respect to the query [Inquirus].
fusion of other media
Fusion of Other Media
  • Inquirus.
    • Motivation for a meta-search {Images}:
      • Queries from the user can be modified, since individual search engines are good at different types of queries the results are very good.
    • How ?
      • See Reference {Skipped because of topic overlap}.
    • Can it work for others ?
      • Example: FTP,Music – Probably yes [P2P searches].
other work
Other Work
  • Other work {Media Fusion}.
    • MetaSEEk.
      • Visual Search Engine [for images],
      • Makes use of query by example.
    • Ixquick.
      • MP3,Images,News.[all come from different search interfaces –may not exactly be fusion].
    • Dogpile.
      • Multimedia,Images,News,Files.

Some Meta Search Engines

On the web,

Why are they not so popular ?,

Some Reviews.

meta search engines on the web
Meta search Engines on the Web
  • MetaCrawler,
  • Ixquick,
  • Inquirus,
  • SavySearch {now cnet search ?},
  • Dogpile,
  • Sherlockhound,
  • Vivisimo.
why are they not so popular
Why Are They Not So Popular ?
  • Ads !
    • Some Meta Search engines pick up ads as part of search results from the participating search engines.
      • Example: Dogpile.
    • Similar reasons as general search engines (ads clutter search results).
      • Example: MetaCrawler,Ixquick.
  • Paid Placement Search Engines included,
  • Relation with the search engines they depend on. {load,interaction}….
why are they not so popular26
Why Are They Not So Popular ?
  • Results as good as the worst search engine in the group.
    • Combining results using meta-index and rankings can lead to incorrectly ranked results from a search engine reducing the relevance of correct results.
    • If your highly ranked search engine returns a badly ranked result, then your results are also badly ranked.
some reviews
Some Reviews
  • Search Engine Watch [May 2001]
Conclusions and Future

Conclusions and Future

conclusions and future
Conclusions and Future
  • Vivisimo reported 43 % increase in traffic –[ Aug. 14, 2001],
  • Apple ‘Sherlock’ has been popular,
  • Multiple Media Search,
  • P2P Searches ?,
  • Growth or Niche Search Engines.
  • The MetaCrawler Architecture for Resource Aggregation on the web(1997) – Erik Selberg & Oren Etzioni.
  • Context and Page Analysis for Improved Web Search(1998) –Steve Lawrence & C. Lee Giles.
  • Experiences with Selecting Search Engines Using Metasearch(1997) – Daniel Dreilinger & Adele E. Howe.
web references
Web References
  • Search Engine Watch Article [Meta Search Or Meta Ads?],
  • Wired Article [Searching For Google’s Successor],
  • MetaSEEk [Writeup],
  • Text and Image Meta Search on the Web[Citeseer Paper Reference].