Who Powers Whom? Search Providers Chart: May 2003

Many major search engines get their results by turning to third-party "search providers" to "power" their listings. To make matters more confusing, these search providers may run their own search engine sites, as well.

The chart below explains who the major providers are. Knowing who powers whom is helpful for those who are wondering which companies are "winning" in the competitive market of powering search. Information is for users visiting the US/global version of the search engines listed, unless otherwise noted.

This information is also helpful to webmasters and search engine marketers trying to understand where to get listed. If this is your goal, also read the Search Engine Results Chart. That table is more oriented for those looking to get listed with different search engines. It shows all the major search engines and how they get their listings, with links leading to submission help from Search Engine Watch's Essentials Of Search Engine Submission guide.

The key for the chart is shown first, then the chart itself comes further below, so there's enough width to display it properly. To learn more about a particular search engine or search provider, just click on its name. You'll be taken to the appropriate section of Search Engine Watch's Major Search Engines page. To jump straight to the chart, click here.

Search Engine Watch members can see partnership charts
going back to March 1996. They also have access to pages
about many of the individual search engines listed,
explaining in depth how they work and get listings.

Click here to learn more about becoming a member

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. The most significant providers are listed first, in terms of the reach Search Engine Watch feels they have across the major search engines. Because the chart is long, the top portion with provider names is repeated for ease of viewing.

  • NOTE: Overture recently acquired search provider AllTheWeb and the AltaVista search engine. Both have been consolidated into the Overture column. For the time being, "paid" in the Overture column means paid results are provided by Overture. "Main" or "option" listings from Overture-owned AllTheWeb are shown with the ATW abbreviation, while AV is used for AltaVista.

Search Engines: These are listed at the beginning of each row, in order of "search hour" popularity, as explained on the Nielsen//NetRatings page.

  • Search engines with more than 5 million search hours per month come first and are shaded dark orange. Partnerships with these search engines thus counts for more importance than with others.
  • Search engines with 2 million or more search hours per month are shaded light orange, then those with 200,000 or more search hours are shaded light blue.
  • Those shaded in gray have no significant search hours reported, but they are shown because of the name recognition they may have among serious searchers.

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 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 "fallthrough" results.

Option: 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. For example, LookSmart has an agreement to provide directory listings to MSN Search through December 3, 2003. Dates are shown in MM/DD/YY or similar format.

  • Terra Lycos released its own paid listing program in late 2002. Ads run on Terra Lycos-owned Lycos and HotBot. They do NOT replace existing partnerships to carry paid ads from Overture. The Terra Lycos To Launch Paid Placement Network article provides further details.
  • In the Google-AOL and Google-Yahoo deals, it was only announced that the partnership would be "multiyear." Most partnerships tend to last at least two years, so the first likely renewal dates are shown.

Who Powers Whom? Chart

Search
Engine
(Down)
Provider:
Google

Provider:
Overture

(AV, ATW)
Provider:
Open Directory
Provider:
Inktomi
(Yahoo)
Provider:
Look
Smart
Provider:
Teoma
(Ask)
Google Main
& Paid
Option
AOL Main
& Paid
(5/04+)
Option
Yahoo Main
(10/04+)
Paid
(4/05)
Not yet used
MSN Paid
(12/04)
Backup
(12/05)
Main
(12/3/03)
Ask
Jeeves
Paid
(9/05)
Main
Search
Engine
(Down)
Provider:
Google

Provider:
Overture

(AV, ATW)
Provider:
Open Directory
Provider:
Inktomi
(Yahoo)
Provider:
Look
Smart
Provider:
Teoma
(Ask)
Alta
Vista
Main (AV)
& Paid
Option
(8/31/03)
Over
ture
Paid Backup
Net
scape

(AOL-owned)
Main
& Paid
(5/04+)
Option
Look
Smart
Backup Main
& Paid
Lycos Main
(ATW - 12/31/03) & Paid
(May 06)
Option
Search
Engine
(Down)
Provider:
Google

Provider:
Overture

(AV, ATW)
Provider:
Open Directory
Provider:
Inktomi
(Yahoo)
Provider:
Look
Smart
Provider:
Teoma
(Ask)
HotBot
(Lycos-owned)
Option Paid
(May 06)
& Option (ATW - 12/31/03)
Main Option
AllThe
Web
Main (ATW) & Paid Option
Teoma Paid
(Sept 05)
Main
Notes Yahoo
is an investor
Overture bought
AV & ATW in 4/03
AOL bought
in 11/98
Yahoo bought Inktomi
in 3/03
Ask
bought Teoma
in 9/01

LookSmart Inks Search Deal with Lycos
Boston.internet.com, July 9, 2003
http://boston.internet.com/news/article.php/2233041

LookSmart listings will begin appearing on Lycos later this year for "commercial terms," in a new deal between the two companies. Lycos tells me that they will be showing 10 LookSmart results head of AllTheWeb listings for 50,000 terms that LookSmart has determined are commercial in nature. LookSmart is also guaranteeing that despite the commercial emphasis, Lycos should feel the results displayed will all be relevant to users.