WWW FAQs: How many search engines are there?

2007-11-28: According to the excellent site SearchEngineWatch.com, the following search engines enjoyed a market share of at least 2.6% as of July 2006:

Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Ask. All others made up less than 10% of the pie. Also, note that AOL gets their results from Google— so you might not want to count them separately.

For complete results check out the SearchEngineWatch Nielsen NetRatings for July 2006.

While these results are worldwide, it is worth keeping in mind that nation-specific search engines sometimes beat out Google in their particular market.

"Yes, but EXACTLY how many search engines are there?"

It depends on how you count. There have historically been dozens of general-purpose search engines, and there are also tens of thousands of search engines which are part of a single site and search only that site.

Also, some search engine "brands" are just "front ends" for another search engine. For instance, currently AOL Search returns results via Google.

Although it is a bit out of date, Volico's search engine business relationships chart is very informative.

Finally, don't forget that there is No such thing as a central registry of all search engines. It's not as if they have to announce themselves— no one has to ask permission to set up yet another search engine! So an exact count is impossible. What we can do is count the search engines that have meaningful market share.

So, we have:

  • Five search engine "brands" enjoying a market share of at least 2.6%.
  • Four truly independent search engine "back ends" enjoying a market share of at least 2.6%.
  • Hundreds of language- and country-specific search engines.
  • Tens of thousands of web-site-specific search engines.

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