Integrated vs. Unified Metasearch Engine (Scour vs. Soovle)

By moonparkmoonpark (1261427830|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Introduction

The internet has grown significantly over the few years with over 182 million websites. As a result, search engines were developed to address the need for locating particular set of documents. However, there has recently been a spike in numerous different types of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Ask. These search tools work differently depending on how they retrieve the data or index the web (some scan the entire internet while others just index the title and description). Since these search tools report different results, a result aggregator was needed to create a more accurate and efficient utility. This is where Metasearch comes in to address the need. In this blog I will talk about the different uses for Metasearch and what they are. In addition, I will conduct a detailed analysis on two different types of Meatsearch. Please enjoy…

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What is Metasearch?

Metasearch is a search engine that utilizes other query tools such as Google to retrieve relevant data and aggregates them into one location. Since users only have to enter the query once to utilize numerous search tools, it is much more efficient way of conducting a searches. Currently there are two different classes of Metasearches: Integrated and Unified. The integrated search engine such as Scour uses an algorithm to rank the results from different search engines into one list. The other type is the unified search engine where the interface provides divided areas for each of the search engines.

Why use Metasearch?

The most attractive reason for using Metasearch is its time saving capability for the users. Since many of initial searches do not retrieve the relevant documents, the searchers must use other keywords or sites to locate their desirable data. However, with the use of Metasearch, the number of queries could be drastically reduced. Furthermore, the overlapped data could be easily seen while options allow users to narrow the results.

Pros
Saves users time
Provides a unique search experience
Utilizes many different search engines at once
Cons
Some sites are not transparent

Scour

Scour is an example of an integrated Metasearch engine, which was launched by Scour Inc. in 2008. It incorporates three major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Live Search while implementing some social aspects on the site (Twitter and Digg). Scour has unique incentive feature for people to use. Currently, the Scour Toolbar keeps track of all the features that users use, and financially compensates them based on points (about $0.004 per point).

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First Impression

The homepage of Scour seems to be very active, but it doesn’t seem useful. There is a section community activity where the site tracks what is popular and which sites users are commenting on. Although the section seems to be constantly updating, the sites seems to be full of blog posts and status updates. There is also a section on how many people are using the site at that time and the number of votes that were gathered (this was kind of interesting). Lastly, users can send the site monitors their opinions through the Feedback section.

Experience

The search tool is very effective and retrieves the result in less than a second. Once the site lists all of the sites, the users can narrow their results by articles, images, or videos. There is a related search section, but there is not an advance search option section. As a result, it is very difficult to reduce the results to more relevant set. Furthermore, the ranking system seems to give more weight on Google than any other site. The transparency of the results seems questionable as well. Each link has a listing rank form utilized search engines for transparency, but does not give exact details on how the ranks were calculated. There is a voting and commenting section, which made the experience very unique.

Although it seems like a good efficient tool, there is nothing unique about it. The search seems to be like any other search sites except for the compilation portion. They also maintain a blog, which seems to be unique. However, all of the topics are completely space fillers, and there aren’t many posts to make a difference in this feature. As a result, I would not strongly recommend using this section.

Pros
Saves users time
Fast search tool
One time stop for major searches
Good division between the articles, pictures, and videos
Cons
Experience is not that unique
Lack of user options
Non-effective features (i.e. blogs)

How to use Scour 101

Soovle

Soovle was created to condense all of the major search tools into one area. It is specifically used for users who do not know exactly what to search for. Soovle currently follows seven sites; Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing, Answers.com, YouTube, and Wikipedia.

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First Impression

The site’s graphics are really cool while providing a comprehensive way to conduct a search. The users can input their keywords in the search bar, and a list of related searches will appear on each of the search sites based on their relevance. The surfer then can choose which one to execute by using the arrow keys on their keyboard. The drawback of this system is that it can sometimes be slow to find all of the related keywords.

Experience

The experience for this site really stinks…With the whole purpose of utilizing Metasearch as a time saver, Soovle actually increase the time of search. This is because once the user executes a search in one tool, they muct go back to Soovle’s main page to execute the same tool for a different search engine. As a result, there isnot much benefit for using Soovle compared to normal search engines. Furthermore, there are no options for the users at all (users can not even separate the results from articles to images or videos, which makes the query more cumbersome).

On the other hand, there are several other features that are unique. Soovle keeps a Twitter account that updates the users on new features and improvements. The site also reports some of the top searches to keep up with the trend, which is pretty cool. The blog is also informative that reports an in depth analysis or demonstration of new features. Although these features are really interesting, they are not that important to the overall experience of the search tool. In my opinion, Soovle tends to be cumbersome and time-consuming to use.

Pros
Cool graphics on the first page
Blog and Twitter feeds keep users up-to-date
Monitors the trend of the searches
Cons
No search options
Too cumbersome to use
Time consuming

How to use Soovle 101

Conclusion

The Metasearch tools tend to be very helpful in reducing users’ search duration. However, there are many sites that do not maintain a detailed transparency record, which makes it difficult for users to locate the originality of the documents. In my opinion, Scour seems to be a better tool than Soovle on overall search capabilities. Through my experience, Scour tended to bring up more relevant information than Soovle since Scour compiles all the results into one section. On the other hand, Soovle requires numerous searches in different tools to obtain the relevant files, making it more difficult to use. I would firmly recommend using Scour for future searches since they do a great compiling all the results even though they do not have detailed transparency.

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