Is anything to be gained by searching across multiple sites? If you have any doubt about the answer, visit Thumbshots Ranking, a tool that graphically compares search results on different search engines. It shows you how results compare in ranking and position on each site. You can elect to highlight your own or some other site and get a clear picture of how it rates.

I searched for “rockport lawyer” and compared the results on Google and Yahoo. Out of the top 100 links from each site, only 10 overlapped, meaning that each had 90 links that the other did not. The same comparison between Google and AltaVista brought similar results.

Now that you are convinced of the need to query multiple search engines, here is another new meta-search tool to try: ZapMeta. Separating it from the pack are several options for quickly viewing the sites that match your search results.

ZapMeta submits your query to seven major search engines (although Google is not one of them) and sorts the results by relevance. Many of the results include a “snapshot” image of the Web page along with the usual text excerpt. Each search result also has three other unusual viewing options.

“Quick View” opens a window directly on the results page that displays the listed site. Click again to close the window. “Past Versions” sends a search to the Internet Archive, and displays any older versions of the page stored there. As with most search engines, clicking on a result takes you to that page. But ZapMeta lets you instead click on a small window icon to open the page in a new browser window, with the results still displayed in the first window.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.