First, a definition. Meta Search – A search tool that queries several search engines and/or web directories simultaneously and returning the results in a single merged list without the duplicate links.

Confused? Let me give you an example. Let’s say there is a meta search engine you have recently found that searches two engines, say Google and Yahoo. It searches both of these search engines and then returns the combined results to you, without any duplicates (results that appear on both engines). Sounds neat , huh? Well, there are pros and cons with meta searching that the user should be aware of in order to make his searching as productive as possible.

THE PROS

Meta searching is fast, and saves considerable time for the user since you may query several engines and directories simultaneously rather than typing in a single query in every search engine that you wish to get results. Webmasters will find meta searching extremely valuable in checking their site’s page listings, backlinks, keyword ranking, etc. Any other profession that is research-oriented would also find meta searching a must-have.

THE CONS

Most, not all, meta searchers do not allow site submissions. This is because most do not maintain their own database of page listings. They simply get results from other search engines. Because most meta searchers query anywhere from 4 to 12 engines and directories simultaneously, and not all of them will allow Boolean searching, many meta searchers therefore will not allow Boolean searching. (Boolean seaching is the use of operators such as AND, OR, quotation marks, and plus/minus symbols.)

THE META SEARCH ENGINES

Meta search engines come in a variety of forms. The standard meta searcher simply queries several engines and returns the results on a single page. Others return results from each engine queried separately, either dividing them on a single page or opening multiple browser windows, each containing the results from a different engine. And another type, generally known as all-in-one search, also allows you to query many different engines, but just one engine at a time.

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