Who Powers Whom? Search Providers Chart: Feb. 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 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.

Beneath the chart is a key. 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.

Google Overture Open Directory Inktomi LookSmart Teoma AllTheWeb Lycos Notes
Google Main
& Paid
Option Yahoo is an investor
AOL Main
& Paid
(May 04+)
Option Owns Open Directory
Yahoo Main
(April 05)
Inktomi by 3/03
MSN Paid
(Dec. 04)
Backup Main
Also uses own editors
(Sept 05)
Option Main Owns
AltaVista Paid Option Option
Main from own crawler
Overture Paid Backup Main results are paid
Netscape Main
& Paid
(May 04+)
Option Owned by AOL
Backup Main
& Paid
Lycos Paid Option Main Paid
HotBot Main Paid Main Main Main Paid Offers choice of 4 crawlers
Paid Option Main Lycos is an investor
Teoma Paid
(Sept 05)
Main Owned by Ask Jeeves

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.

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 300,000 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.

Note that 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.

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.

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.

Notes: These are additional notes relevant to some search engines listed in the rows of the chart.

Related reading

Simple Share Buttons