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How to Choose a Remote Search Service


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Choose the Service For You

Read through the previous pages, and try out the search engines in the SearchTools search page. Think about which of the features we describe is vital, and which you can live without (it's like buying a car). Then try out two or three that have the most important elements, and see how well they fit with your site.

Disclaimer: Search Tools Consulting has worked with Atomz, MondoSearch and SearchButton, however we do not allow this to influence our evaluations.

Product Notes

  • Atomz
    • free for up to 500 pages (no ads, just a logo)
    • paid version with more features: 50 pages @ $100 per year, $100 pages @ $125 per year, 250 pages @ $150 per year, 500 pages @ $300 per year, 1,000 pages $600 per year, greater than 1,000 pages: contact Atomz.

    • Advantages: A very powerful and configurable service, provides lots of control over indexing, follows complex links nicely, indexes PDF files, has many search options, and provides good schedules for updating. The results page and listing layout is entirely configurable using HTML and a simple tag-based scripting language, and there are no banner ads on the results page, just an Atomz logo. Free to 500 pages, paid version for more pages.

      Disadvantages: free version will only index 500 pages; slightly confusing administration interface, search finds every possible match, finds plurals and other word forms, by default, retrieves synonyms and soundalike words: just finds too much!

  • FreeFind [prices updated 10/2001]
    • free (results pages will display advertising), no fixed page limit
    • Personal: 250 pages, $5 per month (less-frequent indexing, low-priority support)
    • Small Site: 500 pages, $9 per month
    • Economy: 5,000 pages, $19 per month
    • Standard: 1,000 pages, $19 per month (daily reindexing, customized results pages, priority email support)
    • Enterprise: 2,500 pages, $39 per month
    • Enterprise Plus: 5,000 pages, $79 per year
    • High capacity and custom: contact company

      Advantages: Allows you to index multiple sites, update indexes often, handles complex links nicely. The search form lets users choose to match "any words" or "all words". Nice administration wizard interface walks through the options, template results-page customization is very flexible.

      Disadvantages: Banner ads on result page (free version), no options for customizing matched items, no indexing reports, limited search reports.

  • Google
    • free (with advertising), unlimited pages

      Advantages: free, though results page look like Google. Also has link to Google web search. Search results sort on relevance include extra weight for matches in the title, HTML headings H1, H2 and H3, phrase matches and number of repetitions.

      Disadvantages: Advertising. No way to schedule updates or view index log or search log. Minimal results customization. No automatic interface for search zones on a site, indexing of PDF and other file formats, etc. No way to customize no-matches page.

  • IndexMySite
    • free first month; 100 pages @ $49 per year; 500 pages @ $6 per month; 1,000 pages @ $10 per month; 2,500 pages @ $15 per month; 5,000 pages @ $20 per month; 10,000 pages @ $30 per month; 25,000 pages at $50 per month, higher quantities available as well.

      Advantages: Can index multiple sites; choose which tag data to index; live testing for result page customization; good search word report, including no-match searches (but no phrases, pages matched).

      Disadvantages: Awkward administration interface, can't handle Robots REFRESH tags, no match item customization.

  • MiniSearch
    • free, no stated page number limit.

      Advantages: Easy administration, handles robots directives correctly, very nice indexing report, good search word report (but no phrases, pages matched).

      Disadvantages: Fails to follow redirects, no options for complex searching, problems with extended characters, very limited result page customization, JavaScript banner advertising may draw over content, no match item customization, combines Meta Description, keywords and text in result match item page extract, no schedule for updating index.

  • MondoSearch
    • paid version only: 1 - 1,000 pages: $144; to 5,000 pages: $585; to 10,000 pages: $990; above: contact
    • local server version also available

      Advantages: unusual results format - shows pages in categories, otherwise results pages layout is very flexible; nice display of matched words in result. Indexing is good with complex links such as redirects and framesets: shows frame page results in context; lets admin controls speed of indexing; search form can include choice of "any words" or "all words", handles extended Roman characters, marks pages by language, can be customized for any language; local server version available.

      Disadvantages: unusual results formats, browser administration somewhat disorganized, very modal (you must click OK before changing pages). No free version available.

  • PicoSearch
    • free (with no outside advertising), to 1,500 pages
    • paid version: 3,000 pages, $199 per year; 6,000 pages, $399 per year; negotiable above that.

      Advantages: good with complex links such as redirects and framesets, tends to follow many links. Excellent index reporting, especially the live online version. Recognizes extended Roman characters and can be customized to show results in many languages including Chinese. Good options for adjusting results rankings for special pages, directories. Free, with no outside advertising, to 1,500 pages.

      Disadvantages: No update scheduling: you must do it interactively each time. Free version is not very customizable for results pages or match items, no automatic updating. Minimal search reporting.

  • siteLevel (WhatUSeek)
    • free (with advertising) up to 1,000 pages: paid services may be available in the future.
    • up to 250 pages: $4.99 per month, $50.90 per year (no advertising)
      • up to 500 page: $9.99 per month, $101.90 per year
      • up to 1,000 pages: $19.99 per month, $203.90 per year
      • up to 2,500 pages: $39.00 per month, $407.90 per year

  • Advantages: Allows you to index multiple sites, good indexing of complex URLs, search finds only pages which match all search words, results customization, report shows top 20 searches. Free, with advertising, to 1000 pages.

    Disadvantages: Ignores META Robots tag; simple searches only (no AND, OR, NOT, + or -).

  • SiteMiner
    • free (with advertising), to 10,000 + pages
    • paid version (no ads): $30 per month, $300 per year up to 1,000 pages: larger site support coming soon

      Advantages: good with complex links such as redirects, search finds only pages which match all search words. Free, with advertising, to 10,000+ pages.

      Disadvantages: JavaScript only search box (no HTML), problems with extended Roman characters, minimal results page and result item customization, no update scheduling, minimal search reporting.

  • Webinator
    • free (with Thunderstone logo), to 5,000 pages
    • local server version also available, can index thousands of pages.

      Advantages: good with complex links such as client image maps, search finds only pages which match all search words, great results-page layout customization options, automatically updates every two weeks and on demand. Free, with logo, to 5,000 pages: local server version available.

      Disadvantages: Complex access system for logging into administration site, no result item customization, no update scheduling, minimal search reporting.

As you can see, there's no one search engine that has all the advantages. Which one you should choose depends on your site, and your particular needs. You won't know what you like until you take a couple of test drives!


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