Meta search solutions are popular in travel - trip planning and travel purchasing, esp. price comparison are the main areas of usage.
April 3rd, 2009 § 0
Meta search solutions can be divided into the following categories: primitive, simple, complex and business intelligence.
A primitive meta search solution has a very simple input form and after submitting an input that is then trivially mapped to searched page parameters it opens several windows or tabs in user’s browser directly with the searched pages that reflect the entered input.
There is no result mapping at all and each searched page displays the result in its own way in a separate browser window or tab.
A simple solution means that the input and result mapping of such solution are trivial, i.e. searched search sites have a very similar input and result output; e.g. popular search sites such as www.google.com or www.yahoo.com.
Such solution does not have to solve complex problems of mapping, it simply sends searched phrase to all processed search sites. It concentrates to gathering results and usually interesting presentation of them.
A nice example here is the jux2 meta search engine. It compares results of three search sites (Google, Yahoo and MSN), so you can see what one search site did not find, but others did, etc.
A complex solution has to deal with complicated input forms with number of input fields. Input forms, in this case, are basically gates to deep web databases, so each form is a representation of a query to a database.
The mapping of input parameters to particular search site parameters is not trivial and can cover areas such as language dependencies (synonyms) or range handling, that may require to send more request to a processed site.
The result processing may require specific domain knowledge, the mapping has to consider various value ranges, different units or currencies or incomplete results.
An interesting example of a complex solution is the skyscanner meta search. It is worth noticing how they nicely use a social aspect to update data.
Business Intelligence Solution
Data obtained from a complex solution could be stored and used for further analysis, creating reports or other views. A system may compare previous historical results, values development or use any statistical or probability operation on data.
In most cases it is a internal solution developed and deployed for a specific customer.
April 3rd, 2009 § 0
It is quite difficult to find any relevant information about meta search solutions. Especially if you try to google for them, a huge amount of links to already existing solutions hides useful links.
The aim is to create a productive place, where all people that are working in any way with a meta search solution can share and discuss their ideas, experiences, problems and hopefully also solutions.
In addition to that, this site will contain links to interesting documents such as academic papers and commercial solution descriptions; links to other blogs about meta search solutions, howto-s and news.