A meta search engine is not technically a search engine, but a web portal which aggregates the web search results for a keyword or a phrase of many different search engines using a proprietary algorithm. it is therefore not necessary to use each search engine separately to obtain the search results you desire.
The first meta search engine, the MetaCrawler, was developed by two American researchers from the University of Washington in 1995. One year later, MetaGer launched a project for a regional computing center for Lower Saxony, Germany. The metasearch engine MetaGer is still in operation today. The consolidation of the search engine market at the beginning of the millennium resulted in several genuine search engines such as Excite or Webcrawler being converted into meta search engines.
If the user enters a search term or phrase in the search slot of a metasearch engine and starts the search function, the machine will send the request to many other search engines. Before the metasearch engine can show any results, their servers have to wait for the answers from each requested search engine. In some metasearch engines, the results list continues to get updated as results from other search engines come in.
Depending on how they are adjusted, the metasearch follows certain guidelines in the presentation of results. For example, the results may be compiled based on the popularity of the requested search engines. A pre-evaluated listing of search results is possible as well. A metasearch engine also filters out duplicates so that a URL does not appear twice in the search result list for a search query.
With many metasearch engines, such as MetaGer, you can even select the search engines to be used for the meta search and can therefore influence the search results, or tailor them to your needs.
For Internet users, metasearch engines have the advantage of running a search query on multiple search engines concurrently. The results are displayed in a uniform structure. In addition to saving time, metasearch engines offer the ability to use less well-known search engines. Thus, results can be achieved and one can discover websites that may otherwise not have been found with the same search request in a standard “single-search engine.”
In a broader sense, comparison websites or portals which cover specific topics on the Internet can also be considered meta search engines. This is referred to as a “vertical search.” If you search for specific news, for example, you can obtain relevant news from news websites with regard to a particular keyword with the Google News search. Similarly, if you want to buy something via the Internet you can find the provider with the best price for the desired product with a price comparison search engine. The topic for the vertical search would in this case be “shopping.” Meta-search engines are, however, not to be confused with link-directories or link-hubs.
Meta search engines can be useful for SEO in many ways. When researching specific topics and texts you have quick and easy access to specialized search engines with a metasearch engine. On the other hand, metasearch engines can help with keyword optimization, because they generally have a very large site diversity with respect to a particular topic or keyword. That way, possible synonyms or meaningful phrase combinations with regard to a specific keyword can be discovered more easily. A not to be underestimated side effect of meta search engines is the time savings that arise because many search engines do not need to be individually searched “by hand.”