Major search engines generally provide listings from a variety of sources, which they may get from third-party search providers or through their own efforts. The chart below shows where each search engine gets the main results it displays.
The key for the chart is shown first, then the chart itself comes further below, so there's enough width to display it properly. Clicking on a search engine's name in the first column of the chart provides a description of that search engine and a link to it, via Search Engine Watch's Major Search Engines page. Information is for users visiting the US/global version of the search engines listed, unless otherwise noted.
Interested in being listed in the results at one of the search engines shown below? Just click on the other links in the chart. They bring up submission help from Search Engine Watch's Search Engine Submission Tips section.
Search Engine Watch members can see relationship charts
To jump straight to the chart, click here.
While search engines display results from many different sources, usually the results from one particular source will be most dominant. These are considered to be the "main" results for that search engine. For example, in a search at Google, the main results are typically editorial listings that come from Google having crawled the web.
Here is more information about the "type" of main results that are listed on the chart:
- Crawler: the main results are compiled by having crawled the web.
- Human: the main results come from listings compiled by human editors.
- Paid: the main results come from paid placement listings.
Some search engines gather their own listings for the main results they display. For example, Google crawls the web itself for the main results it shows. Other search engines use third-party search providers for their results. For instance, the main search results at AOL come from Google's crawler-based listings, rather than from work inside AOL. This column shows who provides the listings for main results, be it internal work or a third party.
The Who Powers Whom? search engine alliances page shows third-party partnerships in a different way. On that page, you can more easily see who the significant search providers are and the search engines they power.
For help in getting listed with a particular search provider, read the Essentials Of Search Engine Submission guide, for a step-by-step process to the basics of submitting to key players. Or, click on any of the chart links for submission help about a specific search provider. Also consider becoming a Search Engine Watch member, to gain access to detailed information about how these search engines work.
Every major search engine has paid listings that are also presented alongside its editorial results. This column shows who provides those paid listings. For example, Overture provides paid listings to many different partners. Also see the Buying Your Way In page for detailed information about paid listing partnerships.
Many search engines where the main results come from crawling the web also provide human-powered "directory" results in some way. The Directory Results column shows where directory information comes from, if offered as an option.
For search engines where the main results come from human work, it's common for them to have a "backup" or "fallthrough" partnership with a crawler-based search engine. For example, if a search at Lycos fails to find a match in information from LookSmart, then matches from Yahoo provide answers. This column shows where the backup results come from, for search engines where this is in operation. For Overture, it shows what happens on the Overture site itself, when there are no paid results.
|Type Of |
|Provider Of |
|Crawler||Yahoo||Also available: |
|MSN Search||Human||LookSmart/Zeal||Overture||Open |
Other Relationship Charts
Several other sites chart the relationships between search engines. Below are some links you may wish to try. Also see the Country-Specific Search Engines page for some country-specific relationship charts.
Bruce Clay's Search Engine Relationship Chart
Long-standing graphical look at relationships between different search engines. This is in PDF format, so be sure to have a viewer before clicking on the link. Selecting any search engine "node" takes you to a web page within Bruce Clay's site with more information about that search engine.
Integrated Resource Management's Search Engine Tips Chart
Details about various major search engines, such as who powers whom, submission links and other information, all in table format.
PA WebSearch Top 15 Search Engines & Directories Charts
Offers two graphical charts in PDF format showing editorial relationships and paid listings partnerships.
Search Engine Decoder
Search Engine Watch doesn't have a gee-whiz visual chart of search engine relationships, because I've always found the crossing over of arrows pointing here and there make such charts unusable. They look cool, but an Edward Tufte-style simple table is actually more useful. But Search Engine Decoder is a cool graphical chart worth trying. It succeeds because selecting any particular search engine shows relationships only for that search engine.
Search Engine Relationship Matrix
Free PDF-graphic showing relationships between various search engines.
Search Engine Watch members can see relationship charts
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!