Zeal and LookSmart Search Engine Analysis

After its acquisition by LookSmart in 2001, the Zeal search engine eventually shut down in 2006. We enjoyed tracking and analyzing this search engine when it was around, so we’re keeping our past analysis up for posterity. 


Zeal Worked for Nonprofits

There was a time when you could submit a website to LookSmart for editorial review, and expect to have your site listed in the LookSmart directory within a few weeks.

Then LookSmart moved to a system requiring a paid editorial review and bought Zeal.com, a directory built by volunteer editors, who edited in exchange for credits toward donations to their favorite nonprofit organizations. The rumors about a Zeal-LookSmart merger began in late 2000, prompting many Zealots to rush to add as many of their favorite commercial sites as they could before the potential rule changes could occur. Zeal-LookSmart merger occurred in July, 2001. Many of the commercial sites listed by Zealots still exist in LookSmart in noncommercial categories, but those that existed in “commercial” categories were removed.

Since the merge, LookSmart has recruited many new Zealots, as the editors are known. By the way, Zealots no longer edit in exchange for credits toward donations to their favorite nonprofits. They’re just volunteers.

It is very easy to become a Zealot. You simply register, read the guidelines, and take a member quiz. At first the quiz was very difficult, but LookSmart has continued to lower the barriers to participation, and now the quiz is a snap. Plus, you can take it as often as you like until you pass – there is no penalty for failure (a feature that LookSmart removed late in 2001).

After you pass the member quiz, you begin submitting non-profit organizations’ websites. When you’ve demonstrated competence in selecting appropriate sites, suggesting the best categories, writing good titles and descriptions, you may become a “zealot” or editor of a category. Then, like in the Open Directory Project, you have editorial control over that category.

Zeal Directory Analysis


Non-profit websites and individual subpages of for-profit sites which have not paid LookSmart for participation in another program.

1) Become a Zealot.
2) If you pay LookSmart, you will not be able to submit pages from your site through Zeal.

Become an Zealot and you can build it.

Entries to Zeal have the following editorial constraints:

Title must be less than 65 characters.

First, people search LookSmart, not Zeal. The purpose of Zeal is to feed the LookSmart directory and search engine, not to be a search engine in its own right. The LookSmart search results come from the LookSmart directory listings, to which Zealots can add directly in certain categories. The results are derived from the title tags, descriptions, website quality ratings, category names, and category descriptions in the LookSmart directory.

LookSmart provides the directories for:
MSN, AltaVista, Excite/Webcrawler, iWon, CNN.com, Juno, Time Warner, prodigy, and directories of hundreds of ISP’s.

LookSmart! NewsFlashOn October 6, 2003, LookSmart announced that MSN will not renew its contract with LookSmart through which LookSmart was providing search results to the MSN search site. The contract will end as of January 15, 2004.
Source: http://www.shareholder.com/looksmart/releaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=119375
  • Description must be less than 170 characters.
  • You must use complete sentences to describe the website, not the product the site is selling or the business the site is promoting!
  • ABSOLUTELY use no promotional or subjective language.