Old Dominion University Libraries

STARquest II: The Internet and the World Wide Web

3d. Search Tools - Metasearch Engines

Also called multi-engine search sites, these sites allow you to run your search simultaneously in a number of search engine sites and compare the results.

This type of search can save you a lot of time and give you an overview of what is available on your search terms. However, if you decide to use advanced search strategies you may receive zero results from one or more of the given search tools.

Meta-search engines are usually at the mercy of the individual search tool they query. They act as "the middle man" to deliver your search to each of the search tools and deliver the search tool's response in a unified report.

Each meta-search engine site differs in

  • how results are compiled when reported
  • how and whether they can handle complex searches
  • whether you can customize the search strategy

Use meta-search engines if you want an overview of multiple search engines to get an idea of what's available on your topic. This could help find more recent information.

Some of the more popular meta-search engines are Dogpile, MetaCrawler, and Mamma



  • No need to re-type your search at a number of sites
  • One way to decide which sites to run your search in depth
  • These sites usually cannot determine the different default search commands per search site.
  • The same search is not always appropriate in different search engines