Recently I’ve been looking at hotels and car rentals for a short trip to NYC over spring break. My favorite site to use is Travelocity. I’ve found some really good deals there in the past and they’re pretty helpful when you actually book it. Today I looked at Kayak and Priceline instead. Travelocity is considered an online “travel agency” while Kayak and Priceline are metasearch engines. While using these metasearch engines I began to wonder how they work.
Essentially metasearch engines use whatever you’ve entered into the site to query other main search engine databases such as Google. So instead of searching just that one engine you are receiving result from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or wherever other databases that particular engine reaches out to. They use virtual database methods to actually query the main search engine databases. The user asks a question the metasearch engine searches the other database, compiles the results, and displays the best and most relevant to the user. I found a good image from Bright Hub that depicts this.
Regular search engines, such as Google, take a users query and scans through indexes. These indexes are databases of information that are unique to each search engine which is why you don’t always get the same results. This is what makes metasearches so useful. They find the unique information for you. This also what makes them so popular for travel searches. They find the best prices and put them all on one page in a matter of seconds.