As of January, 2012, this site is no longer being updated, due to work and health issues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 31, 2002. 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 should be fast, accurate and easy to install, they have to index all published file types on a site. Some situations require a simple admin interface, preferably via browser, while others need an SDK to integrate with other applications. But universally, search engines must be responsive, have good relevance ranking and provide basic customization, to make their customers happy.


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

The following tables list the responses rating the 16 most popular search tools (6 or more entries) as of July 31, 2002.

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 in 2001/2002, Microsoft's Site Server makes a respectable showing, while Logika's FusionBot service has at least 23 happy customers, who were asked to respond to the survey.

  • In 2000/2001, 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
1 FusionBot
Note: Logika encouraged happy customers to take the survey
2 MondoSearch
Note: MondoSoft encouraged happy customers to take the survey
3 Atomz Search
4 FreeFind service
5 Webinator
6 Ultraseek (formerly Inktomi)
7 ht://dig
8 Verity
9 Microsoft Site Server
10 SWISH (mainly SWISH-E)
11 Glimpse and WebGlimpse
12 EWS (Excite for Web Servers)
13 SUN ONE iPlanet (formerly Netscape Compass)
14 Microsoft Index Server (included with IIS server pack)
15 Muscat (now somewhat obsolete)
16 WAIS Search Engine (mostly FrontPage)


Less Popular Search Tools

These search tools had five or fewer responses, so we didn't even try to average the ratings. However, we did report all the ratings and comments for these search engines:

Alkaline, AltaVista, Apple e.g., Ask Jeeves, ASTAware SearchKey PRO, Autonomy, Beseen, Bravenet search, cfm.index, CNIDR Isearch, Database, DBtextworks Intranet Spider, Delphes, DioWeb, divine Participant server, Domino, exploit7, Fast Site Search, Fluid Dynamics, Freesite, Fulcrum, google, Harvest, HitBox Search, HomePageSearch applet, Hotlinks, Hyperseek, IBM NetQuestion, iCat, ICE, iFilter, Inquery 5.0, Intelligent Miner for Text, Lycos Site Spider 1.0, Namo Web Search, NetIS, nsearch, OfficeVision/400, Oneworld Search engine, OpenFTS for Postgres, opentec, Oracle ConText, Oracle InterMedia, Perlfect, Phantom, PicoSearch, Pinpoint, PLWeb, Qfinder, ResourceMiner, Sambar, Scout, Search Light, Search Maestro, search maker Pro,, SearchCSV, SFE Search, Sinky Search Engine, SiteMiner, Sun i-Planet search, Surf Map, web-search/dataeasy, WebBoard, WebIndex / WebFind, WebSTAR, WhatUSeek, yahoo store default search.

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 2002 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.