List of Major Web Search Engines, Directories and Metacrawlers

Search engine logos

What is a Search Engine?

An internet search engine is a searchable online database of internet resources, websites and information. A web search engine has several components:

  • Search engine software
  • Spider and index software
  • An index (the database)
  • A relevancy algorithm (rules for evaluating and ranking content)

Search engines are also known as: web search engines, internet search engines, search websites, search directories, etc.

How are Search Engines Used?

Each day, search engines are used to process billions of queries from millions of people all over the world. People use their computer, laptop, tablet, and mobile devices to submit keyword queries to their preferred search tool. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple Siri submit queries based on user voice commands.

The results that are provided in response to keyword queries depend on the device being used. In most cases, such as with computers and mobile devices, the results are provided on a page in a list format, with the most closely matched content being listed first. Most lookup tools provide a hyperlink to the website along with a brief description or blurb of text to describe the result. Results can usually be viewed in different categories, such as web pages, images, videos, news and other types of files. In some cases, as with Google’s results, the answer is provided on the results page itself, saving the user the extra step of clicking through to the website. When questions are submitted to AI devices, the response comes back in a spoken format.

Unlike web directories, which are maintained by human editors, search engines operate algorithmically or are a mixture of algorithmic and human input.

List of Popular Search Engines

Following is a list of some of the more popular search engines and directories on the internet.

All The Web – AlltheWeb (now owned by Yahoo!) used to combine one of the largest and freshest indices with the most powerful search features that allow anyone to find anything faster than with any other search engine.  AlltheWeb’s index (provided by Yahoo!) includes billions of web pages, as well as tens of millions of PDF and MS Word® files. Yahoo! frequently scans the entire web to ensure that our content is fresh and to eliminate broken links.

AltaVista – AltaVista is a web search engine owned by Yahoo!.  AltaVista used to be one of the most popular search engines but its popularity declined with the rise of Google’s search engine. Yahoo  announced that it plans to discontinue the site.

America Online (AOL) – Search less and discover more with AOL Search®. Our product delivers comprehensive web results enhanced by Google™ along with quick, easy access to relevant videos, pictures, local maps, news, stock quotes and more. – is a leading search engine on the Web. Millions of people turn to to get what they are looking for online everyday.  Founded as Ask Jeeves in 1996 and renamed in February 2005, is recognized for innovation in search technology and search interface design.

Bing – Bing is a search engine from Microsoft that finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions.  Bing has emerged as a legitimate contender for search engine traffic.  Instead of the usual plain white page background, Bing displays an interesting photo on their background.

Google – The number one search engine, Google dominates the search market, with around 90% of the worlds search engine traffic.  Google’s search utility and ease of use have made it one of the world’s best known search engines and brands almost entirely through word of mouth from satisfied users.

Dogpile – Dogpile searches multiple search engines at once.

GenieKnows – narrowed the field of organic search results by developing niche-specific portals tailored for distinct searching communities, and also empowers a broad distribution network for advertisers by conveying meaningful, revenue-generating search results.

IX Quick – Ixquick is a metasearch engine: when you search Ixquick, you are searching many popular search engines at the same time. Combined, these engines cover more of the Internet than any one search engine covers.

Lycos – Lycos, established in 1995, is one of the oldest and most widely known Internet brands in the world, evolving from one of the original search engines on the web, into a comprehensive network of sites that foster online communities. The Lycos Network provides web search and navigation, homepage building and web hosting services, web-based e-mail, online games and cutting-edge video platforms. Lycos’s award-winning products and services include tools for blogging, web publishing and hosting, video sharing, social networking, games, e-mail, and search.

Mamma – used to provide relevant results from the best search engines on the Internet.

Metacrawler – Now owned by DogPile. MetaCrawler uses innovative metasearch technology to search the Internet’s top search engines, including Google, Yahoo! Search, MSN Search, Ask Jeeves, About, MIVA, LookSmart and more. With one single click, MetaCrawler searches the best results from the combined pool of the world’s leading search engines — instead of results from only one single search engine.

Northern Light – Northern Light no longer provides search services. They do provide licensed news content to businesses on a private basis.

Reference.Com – is a multi-source encyclopedia search service produced by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC, a leading provider of language reference products and services on the Internet.

Search Com – searches Google,, LookSmart and other leading search engines to bring you the best results. metasearch search engine – The only search you need.

WebCrawler – WebCrawler® brings users the top search results from Google, Yahoo!, Windows Live, Ask and other popular search engines. WebCrawler also provides multimedia results, including images, audio, video, news, and local information. WebCrawler is a registered trademark of InfoSpace, Inc.

Yahoo – Yahoo! Inc. has become the world’s largest global online network of integrated services with more than 500 million users worldwide. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with a presence in more than 20 markets and regions around the globe.

A Private Investigator’s Best Friend

Search engines are useful to private investigators because they provide a quick and easy way to retrieve information on a wide variety of topics. Sometimes, missing persons search case can be resolved using nothing more than a search engine and a telephone.  Remember to use a variety of search engines as each search engine indexes different websites and has different rules for ranking and sorting their results.

Searching for Someone? We recommend Intelius People Search, the leading provider of People Search and Background Check reports. Intelius has an extensive selection of people search reports, background checks, criminal records, court records, real estate and financial reports.


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