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Who Are The Major Search Engines (SE's) and Who Should I List With?

Search engines (SE's) have "size wars", where one engine tries to outdo the other.  It is not so important what the size or percentage market share is of an SE, but whether they can deliver relevant content to it's visitors.  The summary chart below is just a really great article on how SE's stood at the time it is written.   Because of it's educational value, we have reformatted the article and pasted it in the table below.  The original link and credit is displayed. 

A lot has happened in the SE world since this article was published, but I have not found as good an article as this.  As webmasters, we must make decisions on which engines to list with.  To us, the top 4 engines are still the top 4 engines.  Yahoo! has ended its partnership, purchased Overture and Alta Vista, and is now displaying it's own results on Yahoo! Search Engine.  So the major playing field is Yahoo! Search and Google, then include MSN and AOL.  If you get listed in Google, you're in AOL.  Other selections may depend on the nature of your business and your budget.

Chart Key

Search Providers:

These are listed at the top of each column. Read down to see what they power at major search engines. Click on their names to learn more about them.

Search Engines: These are listed at the beginning of each row, in order of share of searches shown on the comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings page. Here's a guide to the color coding:

  • Dark Orange: search engines with 25 percent or greater share.

  • Light Orange: search engines with 10 percent or greater share.

  • Light Blue: search engines with 1 percent share or greater share.

  • Gray: search engines with less than 1 percent share. They are shown only because of the name recognition they may still have among some long-time searchers or marketers.

Main: Indicates that a search provider provides the "main" editorial results to a particular search engine, the most dominant listings that will be seen.

Paid: Indicates that a search provider provides paid placement listings to a particular search engine. Also see the Buying Your Way In page for detailed information about paid listing partnerships.

Backup: Indicates that a search provider provides the "backup" results that appear in cases where a search engine's main results fail to find good matches. See the Search Engine Results Page for more about backup or fall through results.

Option: If shown in the notes section, Indicates that information from this source is made available either on results pages or in other ways, though the prominence of the information may not be high.

Dates: Where shown, dates indicate when a particular partnership is due for renewal. Dates are shown in MM/DD/YY or similar format.

Who Powers Whom? Chart
Search Engine
(Read Down)
Google Main & Paid   Open Directory an option
Yahoo   Main & Paid Yahoo Directory an option
MSN   Main & Paid
(12/05 & 6/05)
AOL Main & Paid (est. 10/05+)   AOL-owned  Open Directory an option
Main & Paid (at iWon, MyWay, My Web Search)
 is InfoSpace-powered
Ask Jeeves Paid  (until 2007)   Main from Ask- owned Teoma.

Runs several meta search engines. Dogpile  is the most popular, representative of others. Google (2006), Yahoo (3/06) & many small providers have distribution deals.

AltaVista   Main & Paid Open Directory  an option; owned by Yahoo
AllTheWeb   Main & Paid Owned by Yahoo
HotBot Paid  (see note) Main Backup from Google & Ask;
Owned by Lycos
Lycos Paid  (see note) Backup
(see note)
Main from LookSmart;
Open Directory an option
Netscape Main & Paid (est. 10/05+)   Owned by AOL; Open Directory
an option
Teoma Paid (Sept 05)   Main from Teoma; owned by Ask;
Paid canned as early as 9/04


AOL renewed its deal with Google in October 2003 but did not specify exactly how long the partnership would last. Date shown is the minimum length estimated by Search Engine Watch, based on past deals between the two companies.

Excite Network is a collection of search sites owned by Ask Jeeves. For more details, see the comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings page.

Lycos has an existing contract with Yahoo-owned Overture for paid results running through May 2006. However, the company switched to Google in November 2003 due to a contract dispute. Google paid results also appear on Lycos-owned For more, see coverage on the dispute from, and CBS MarketWatch. Lycos also runs its own paid listings in addition to those from Google on Lycos and HotBot. See Terra Lycos To Launch Paid Placement Network for more about this. A deal struck for backup results from the now Yahoo-owned AllTheWeb site was to expire on December 31, 2003. There's been no news of any renewal. The AllTheWeb search engine no longer uses its own technology. Instead, Lycos uses Yahoo main results (and flags these as being from Inktomi).

Yahoo main results come from its own crawler-technology. These results often look different on sites that Yahoo powers, such as MSN and Lycos, when compared to the same search at Yahoo itself. This is because Yahoo operates its own unique ranking algorithm on its own site. Yahoo paid results come from the Overture paid placement listings service that it owns. The Yahoo-owned Inktomi search engine no longer operates, though Yahoo-partner Lycos may still say that results are coming from Inktomi.

Quick View of comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings article mentioned above. See article for details.

SEO Chart 01 from Search Engine Watch

SEO Chart 02 from Search Engine Watch

The pie chart above shows the percentage of searches done by US web surfers in December 2004 that were performed at a particular web site or a network of web sites.  Note that note all search engines use their own technology.

The chart above shows the share of searches on a href=""> search provider basis.

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