The Pros and Cons of Using a Meta Search Engine

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If you’re like most people, you use the internet many times a day for work and at home. You probably have a favorite browser, such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari. 

These aren’t your only options for finding information, though. If you’ve never tried a meta search engine before, the difference may surprise you in a good way.

What Is a Meta Search Engine?

A meta search engine is a platform that gathers results from many different search engines simultaneously. That way, when you enter a search query, you can see web pages from a large variety of sources and search engines. Another name for meta search engines is search aggregators.

When you type a query into your browser, the search engine does the hard work of crawling web pages to find the answer. 

Don’t confuse browsers — e.g., Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge — with search engines. A browser shows you the content on web pages, while a search engine helps you locate websites to view.

There are many popular search engines available:

  • Google Search
  • Bing
  • Baidu
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Yahoo!

What Does a Meta Search Engine Do?

When you perform a search query on a regular search engine, such as Google Search, you only see the results that Google’s web crawlers have indexed. On the other hand, search aggregators run your query through multiple search engines and show you the full range of results. You can see recommendations from Google Search, Bing, Yahoo!, and more simultaneously.

It’s easier to understand how search aggregators work if you’ve visited discount airfare websites such as Expedia or Priceline. With your travel dates, these sites check available flights from many airlines, including American Airlines, United, and SWISS. Instead of searching those websites yourself, you let the platform handle it.

Search Aggregators To Try

One of the easiest ways to see how a search aggregator works is to try one out. We’ve put together a short list of our favorite meta search engines to give you a hand:

  • Startpage: Follows strict EU privacy laws and provides a sleek list of top results
  • Dogpile: Offers one of the most popular meta search engines, with tabs for web, videos, images, and news
  • Metacrawler: Provides search results in a minimalist format and shows related searches
  • Metager: Shows where search engine results come from and allows you to open links anonymously

You don’t need to download anything to use a search aggregator. Just visit the related browser.

What Are the Benefits of Meta Search Engines?

Using a meta search engine for personal web searches or business needs can provide several advantages.

Wide Pool of Information

The information you get from Google or Bing may only be part of the picture. Every search engine has its own algorithm for ranking web pages, so you may receive very different answers to the same question.

Meta search engines can show you pages you would miss otherwise. Think of it like getting a second opinion for health questions. The more information you have available, the easier it is to find the answer you need.

High-Quality Answers

Individual search engines can provide biased answers because of algorithms, company rules, or the websites people visit most. Popular websites aren’t necessarily synonymous with accuracy, though.

With a meta search engine, you can view search results more objectively. Instead of seeing the top 10 recommendations from Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, you can see the best results from all of them.

Ability To Compare Search Results Quickly

Search aggregators are convenient to use for business. For example, if you’re planning your next move with search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising, you need to know which websites to beat.

With a meta search, it only takes a second to compare the top results from Google, Bing, and more. That way, you can follow what works, change what doesn’t, and get an edge over your competitors.

Privacy Features

Popular search engines store a record of your activity, such as which sites you visit, where, how, and when. Google keeps track of your search history even in Incognito Mode. In contrast, many meta search engines provide privacy when browsing, free of trackers and cookies.

Helpful Digital Marketing Options

Meta search engines can help you brainstorm for your next SEO campaign. You can get ideas for topics, keyword phrases, and sponsored search results in seconds. Seeing how different search engines rank pages can help you optimize your website, too.


Google often uses your search history to determine the search results it shows you. This feature can be helpful, but it also limits your freedom. Search aggregators such as Startpage let you choose for yourself which websites to visit. There is no search history to bias the results.

What Are the Disadvantages of Search Aggregators?

Meta search engines are helpful, but they also have several downsides that limit how easy they are to use:

  • Basic features: Search aggregators don’t always understand your question and generally only support basic queries.
  • Identical pages: The same articles can rank high with multiple search engines, and some aggregators don’t filter duplicates.
  • Access problems: Certain search engines, such as Bing, may block access to their index, preventing aggregators from gathering results.

In addition, they may have limited usefulness for determining marketing. Google Search has a massive portion of your search audience: business clients and consumers. In the U.S., nearly 95% of mobile device users search on Google. Dabbling in meta search can help you tweak SEO and PPC, but Google Analytics is likely your digital marketing bread and butter in most industries.

How Can a Meta Search Engine Help You Stand Out Online?

Search aggregators can provide a more extensive range of helpful information and help you browse the internet with greater privacy. A meta search engine can also be a valuable tool for SEO and PPC research. That said, aggregators aren’t going to replace mainstream search engines anytime soon.

At Digital Neighbor, we’re a friendly team of SEO experts leveraging Google Analytics, SEO, and PPC to deliver high-quality, effective content marketing. We can help you decide whether advertising on a meta search engine is worth your company’s time. So let’s chat about how to get SEO working for your business today!

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