Along with the creation of the first graphical Web browser, the invention of powerful Web search engines will probably go down as one of the key breakthroughs in the history of the Net. For, at a stroke, what even in the early days seemed a huge, unmanageable heap of data has (apparently) been tamed. Simply by entering a keyword or two, users could magically jump to relevant pages.
Of course, this Internet Eden did not last long. The more successful and richer the Internet became, the harder it was to find anything. This led to a paradoxical impoverishment for users.
To counter this, search engines have constantly tried to add new ways of improving the services they offer. The methods adopted differ widely and as a result shine in different kinds of applications and for different kinds of searches.
Ideally, what is needed is a search engine that combines the best features from all of these engines. And this is precisely what the metasearch engines do. After a user has entered key words in the normal way, the metasearch engine submits these to multiple sites offering search service.
The metasearch engine then collates these different results, and tries to use the often quite disparate information to produce a kind of top hit list.
This is obviously great news for the user, who is spared the effort of visiting multiple search engines and of collating the information in the different formats.
But it clearly poses a problem for the search engines that are being used. They do most of the work for none of the gain, since the banner ads they typically carry are never seen by human users.