Search players often work together in the search arena, instead of attempting to survive on their own by doing everything themselves. The most common connection between them is result feeds. Result feeds include two parties, the supplier of results and the receiver of results. The search system is the party that supplies the results to a search site. There are essentially four main types of result feeds between search players: primary organic search results, secondary organic search results, directory results and paid results.
Primary organic search results are search system feeds that provide a search site with most or all of its organic results. An example of such a feed is Yahoo!’s organic feed to Altavista. Altavista does not have its own search system anymore and presents the exact same results as Yahoo! returns on its own search site. Altavista does not use any other search provider than Yahoo! for its organic results. Most large search sites that do not have a proprietary search system use only one provider to feed them organic results.
Secondary organic search results are results that supplement the primary organic results. For example, Lycos makes use of Yahoo!’s search feed in its results, but Lycos gets the primary organic results from LookSmart. Secondary organic results are usually applicable to search sites that employ Paid Inclusion (see chapter 3.3.) in their results.
Most search sites also make use of directory results to complement the search results. The biggest provider of directory feeds is Open Directory Project (ODP). ODP is a human-edited directory that is constructed and maintained by a global community of volunteer editors. ODP provides a directory result feed to Google, Hotbot, AOL Search, Altavista and hundreds of other search sites. (Open Directory Project 2002.)
Paid results are the primary income channel for search sites. The supplier of the paid result feed uses a database of advertisers that have agreed their ads to be displayed on the search network of the supplier. For example, an advertiser that uses search engine advertising on Google Adwords may opt in to have her ads displayed in other search sites that Google Adwords feeds, such as Ask Jeeves and AOL Search. A pay per click –model is used in this kind of advertising and I will discuss it in more detail in Chapter 5.
Bruce Clay Inc., a leading search engine optimization company, offers a great chart for learning the connections between search providers. The chart can be found at http://www.bruceclay.com/searchenginerelationshipchart.htm.