As of January, 2012, this site is no longer being updated, due to work and health issues

Search Tools Survey - Product Ratings Summary

This survey has been on the SearchTools site since December 1998. The following report summarizes the responses rating search tools with many responses (6 or more entries) as of July 12, 2001. It is a self-selected group of respondents, and probably not statistically significant, but the results are interesting.

This page summarizes the ratings for search engines: for information on web site size, audience, server location, etc., see the Survey Results page.


Search engines requirements are more complex and idiosyncratic than they appear at first. A web site may have dynamic pages, or be missing page descriptions, or change frequently, requiring a flexible indexer to adjust to these conditions. An intranet may have power searchers and complex frames containing binary data recognized by special client modules, while a topical portal may have customers who perform many single-word searches. No one search engine is best for everyone, but some have consistently happy users while others are rated very badly. If you read the comments, you can learn a great deal from the experiences of our survey takers!


This survey is not at all rigorous: it is a self-selected group of respondents, and not statistically significant, but the results are interesting. While the ratings vary for each engine, many respondent provided enlightening comments. When reading the disadvantages section, please check the date entered: many of these search engines have been updated recently.

In the survey, we included a section about the site search tools that web administrators are using. The questions asked about the name of the product and allowed them to rate their tool, using this measure:

Very good
Rating Number

We also asked the people how long they have been using the engine -- those who are new to a product may not be the most reliable at evaluation. And we provided fields to describe what they liked and disliked about the product.

Disclosure: The site is provided as a free service to the web development community and is not sponsored by any advertisers. However, Search Tools Consulting has provided analysis and information to search engine devlopers including Atomz, AltaVista, Siderean, Google, Inktomi, Maxum (Phantom) and Mondosoft (MondoSearch). We do not give them site visitor or survey personal information or allow our relationships with any vendors to change any product review or analysis.

Popular Search Tools

Twelve search engines got 6 or more survey response. Comments from users indicate that the highly-rated products provide solid indexing and search functions, are flexible and easy to administer. Those with lower ratings tend to be older packages which don't have configurable indexing, adjustable results rankings, or good administration interfaces.

New since October 2001, the FreeFind remote search service gets very good marks, while the Muscat product and service (now owned by SmartLogic and/or BrightStation) is not well regarded by its users.

name average rating number of responses
Note: MondoSoft encouraged happy customers to take the survey
11 (10 ratings)
Atomz Search
FreeFind service
Ultraseek (formerly Inktomi)
SWISH (mainly SWISH-E)
iPlanet (formerly Netscape Compass)
Glimpse and WebGlimpse
EWS (Excite for Web Servers)
Microsoft Index Server (included with IIS server pack)
Muscat (now somewhat obsolete)
FrontPage WAIS Search Engine

Less Popular Search Tools

These search tools had five or fewer responses, so we didn't even try to average the ratings:

Alkaline, AltaVista, Apple e.g., Architext, Architext , Autonomy, BeSeen, Bravenet search, CNIDR Isearch, DBtextworks Intranet Spider, Fast Site Search, Fluid Dynamics, Google, Harvest, HitBox Search, HomePageSearch applet, Hotlinks, Hummingbird, Hyperseek, IBM NetQuestion, iCat, ICE, iFilter, InQuery 5.0 , Intelligent Miner for Text, Lotus Domino Search Version 4.6, Lotus Search Engine, Lycos Site Spider 1.0, Microsoft Site Server, NetIS, OfficeVision/400, Oneworld Search engine, Oracle ConText, Oracle interMedia, Perlfect, Phantom, PicoSearch, PLWeb, Qfinder, ResourceMiner, Sambar, Search Light, Search Maestro, SearchCSV, sfe search (cgi written in pearl), Sinky Search Engine, Site Server (Microsoft), SiteMiner , SQL tablescans, Surf Map, unknown, unknown , WAIS, web-search/dataeasy, WebBoard, WebIndex / WebFind, WebSTAR Search, WhatUSeek.

While each individual engine had few responses, the comments in the responses are quite enlightening.

Custom Search Tools

This report covers custom-written and homemade search engines. Of these entries, only a few people were satisfied with their search engines. Complaints include problems with coverage, duplicates, relevance ranking and speed. Given these problems, and the number of solid search engines available, whether as commercial products, remote services or open-source code, we recommend against custom search engines.

July 2001 Survey Results

Sites & Search
 - Why Install
 - Why Not Installed
 - Site Sizes
 - Update Rate
 - Server Location
 - Languages
 - Multilingual Sites
 - File Formats
 - Summary
 - Popular
 - Custom
 - Others

This survey is copyright © 1998-2003 by Search Tools Consulting, and all rights are reserved. The survey was designed, analyzed and reported by Avi Rappoport. Personal information in the survey will be kept private at all times. For reprint permissions or survey aggregate data purchase, please contact Search Tools Consulting.