Tips on search engine positioning with analysis of the best search engines; Most popular search engines,meta search engines, and directories.

Tips on search engine positioning with analysis of the best search engines; Most popular search engines,  meta search engines, and directories.


Also see Search Engine News:

Types of Search Engines & Directories

There are 3 main types of search portals even though most people refer to all of them as "search engines":

  • Search Engine:  Search engines check their entire database for any web pages that match your search request.  They then use a proprietary system to rank pages from highest ranking to the lowest ranking.  This ranking depends on the way the search engine prioritizes its ranking system and how well the web developer created Meta Tags, included keywords in the Title, used text words within the web pages, and perhaps the site's popularity (how many other web pages link back to that site).  Some search engines, like Overture, allow a business to bid on / buy keywords for a higher ranking.  Most search engines have programs called robots or spiders that scan the Internet for new web pages and automatically adds them to their database.  To keep information current, these programs periodically go back to website and re-index the pages.  If the program doesn't find the pages, then those pages are automatically deleted from their database.  Some search engines, like Yahoo, also include a directory as a different way for people to find information.

  • Directory:  A directory uses a hierarchical menu system, like a top - down flow chart, that allows people to click on topics until they find web site links relevant to the information they desire.  Directories also include a Search Box so you can jump quickly through the menu system.  Go to Yahoo,, and click on the directory button at the top of the page to see an example of their directory.  (NOTE:  Both Yahoo and Google have a search engine and directory component to their sites.)  Generally, the only way that your web site can be listed in a directory is if you submit your URL to their database.  Directories only index the words that you see in the Title and Description.  Hence, they are only useful if you are looking for a general topic like an "antique dealer".   But if you are looking something specific like an "18th century oak table", use a search engine that indexes the entire site rather than wasting your time at a directory.
    Many directories list results in alphabetical order and not in ranked importance to your search.  Therefore you are penalized if your company name is XYZ as you'll always be last in their listings.
    Typically, directories don't have a program that scans the Internet for new web pages, while search engines do.  This can result in data becoming old and out-of-date on directories.

  • Meta Search Engine:  These web sites have programs that display the results from the best search engines and/or directories for matches to your keywords.  They generally don't accept submissions as they only display results from search engines and a few directories.  Examples: ixquick compiles data from 13 search engines and gives a combined overall ranking for your keywords.  DogPile individually lists the highest ranked web pages from 15 different sites search engines or directories.  As of November 2001, NBCi uses DogPile's search capabilities.

Best Search Engines

Here are search engine tips that will help you surf the Internet more easily on the best search engines in the U.S.   Visit the  Kansas City Public Library website as they have done a good job of reviewing some of the best search engines and for tips on creating search engine friendly websites that get high rankings.

MSN - 3rd most popular search engine.  In January 2005 MSN stopped using Inktomi data and is now using their own data.  Like Google they do a deep search of sites, but don't put as much emphasis in their overall ranking on Site Popularity.  In general MSN (followed by Google) is the fastest search engine in re-indexing pages.  MSN like many other search engines display pay-per-click ads at the top and bottom of pages.  Rating: A.

Google - They have emerged as a dominate player that has recently won numerous awards for returning the best search results.  However, they have a huge number of spam websites on their database as spammers are targeting them as they are the most widely used search engine.  Much of this has been brought on by themselves as they allow people to place Google Ad Words on their pages.  Thousands of people are now busy creating "junk websites" just so they get high rankings and hopefully can cash in on getting paid for their Ad Words.  Google will index many of your primary pages.  They base some of their rankings on popularity (how many sites link back to your site), keyword density ( number of text words on the page / by the number of times that keyword expression is found = keyword density), the Title, and bonus points are given to the site if it is listed on Yahoo or  They claim to update their entire database every month and index these file types: htm, html, pdf, asp, jsp, hdml, shtml, xml, cfml, doc, xls, ppt, rtf, wks, lwp, wri.  Lastly, Google has started a new search engine called Froogle that will only be listing items for sale.  Rating: B+.

Yahoo - 2nd most popular search engine / directory but loosing ground to MSN.  From around 2001 until early 2004, they were getting their data from Google.  As of early 2004 they are now listing data from first followed by data from Inktomi.  What I don't like about Yahoo is that they are slow in re-indexing pages so their date is somewhat dated.  Rating: B-.

Alltheweb, AltaVista - They get their data from the Fast Database which was purchased by Yahoo in late 2003.  They will index all of the site's pages including Acrobat pdf files.  As of 2002, you have to pay now to get more than 1 page indexed on their search engine.  The Title and Meta Tags are very important for high rankings; Will index frames based pages; Displays only one page from a site and you can click on "more hits from" to see all of the site's pages.  Rating: B.

Northernlight -  On 01/16/02 Northernlight transformed itself into a search engine the specializes in finding news articles about companies and products.  NorthernLight is a favorite among business people and researchers with its ability to cluster documents by topic from thousands of sources: newswires, magazines and databases.  They charge money to view these documents.  It's not a good search engine if you type in something like, "search engine positioning company".  They do not accept submissions.   Rating: B.

Ask - This search engine is based on asking questions to find results.  Ask, formerly known as AskJeeves, also owns a collection of other search engines such as My Way, My Search, My Web Search, MaxOnline, iWon and Excite.  All of these search engines combined will give the AskJeeves umbrella a market share of around 4% of the search engine traffic.  Ask is very slow in re-indexing pages so in my opinion their data is out-of-date.  Rating: C-.

Lycos - They have really fallen on hard times in the past few years.  As of March 2006 they are getting their data from Ask.  Since Ask is so slow in re-indexing pages, this makes their data out-of-date as well.  Rating: D+.

Best Meta Search Engines 

Meta search engines generally don't accept submissions as they simply list the results from search engines.  Here is a list of popular meta search engines followed by perhaps a comment or two:

Best Directories

There are thousands of directories in the world.  Some specialize in only a certain type of industry.  These are the most important general directories used by people in the U.S.

  • Yahoo - This is the #1 portal used by people.

  • - Also known as the Open Directory.  Their information is given freely to hundreds of directories throughout the world.

  • Click here to visit a website with a ton of helpful information.



Contact Us 

High Higher Highest Rankings
on Search Engines
1740 44th Street S.W.; PMB 353
Grand Rapids, Michigan  49509
Phone: (616) 538-9656

Contact for website comments.

HEMS.  All rights reserved



When printing websites, turn  your browser's background printer option to "on". 

Print websites in landscape format.

SEO = search
engine optimizer

Hire a SEO
professional if you desire improved rankings.

Ask SEO for a list of 5 recent websites that get 1st page rankings on 20 phrases.

Use keywords
in your headers.

Create static web pages.

Limit the use
of Flash
web pages.