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Magazines > Online > January/February 2004
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Online Magazine
Vol. 28 No. 1 — Jan/Feb 2004
DEPARTMENTS
Internet Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University

Internet Search Engine Update goes up on the Web at http://www.onlinemag.net as soon as it is written, approximately one month before the print issue mails to subscribers.

AlltheWeb and AltaVista are now owned by Yahoo!, along with Inktomi and Overture. For now, Inktomi, AltaVista, and AlltheWeb continue to be available at their historic locations and have separate databases. Although AltaVista and AlltheWeb still have different Web databases, their image, news, and video databases appear to have been merged. Even so, both continue to offer different search interfaces and features.

About.com sold its Sprinks ad network to Google and will start displaying Google AdWords on the About.com sites under the Sponsored Links section. The inclusion of the Google text ads has not yet caused much reduction in the pop-up and graphic ads on the site, but that may be an eventual by-product which will make looking for information content on About.com sites much easier.

Amazon has entered the search field in a big way with the introduction of its "Search Inside the Book" program. For publishers that have allowed their books to be included, the full text of the book content is searchable. Covering over 120,000 books, the "inside the book" matches show after title and author matches. These are marked as "excerpt from page . . . " and clicking on one will show a graphic of the matching page. Searchers can view two pages forward and back from the matching hit, but you must have an Amazon account and log in to view the pages. While this can be a significant information resource, Amazon is using it to try and sell more books rather than create a database for searchers. Search features are quite limited, and in response to concerns raised by the Authors Guild, the images are no longer easily printable.

AOL has renewed its use of the Google Web and ad databases and has made a few interface changes. It now offers access to the Google images database as a separate tab with "strict" filtering turned on. Local searching is available for AOL members. There is a new People Search tab for AOL members that searches AOL chat rooms, message boards, home pages, and groups. The new AOL search offers no compelling reason for professional searchers to go to the site rather than direct to Google, except for the AOL Hometown page [http://hometown.aol.com] that has searchable access to AOL "Journals" and member home pages. While some of this content shows up at regular search engines, much of it does not.

Ask Jeeves added an advanced search page with all the same features as the Teoma advanced search page except for the ability to get more than 10 results at a time and to open results in a new browser window. However, both of these options are available at Ask Jeeves via the "Your Settings" preferences page. In addition, an adult content filter, which Teoma lacks, is available. No link to the advanced search page appears at the main Ask Jeeves page, but there is a link on every results page.

Gigablast has removed the date sort option on the advanced search form. As the only search engine to offer that option, it is disappointing to see this option disappear. On the plus side, Gigablast is now indexing, searching, and displaying generic metatags. Previously, some search engines would index words in a meta-keyword or meta-description tag. But none of the major search engines ever indexed any other metatags beyond those two. Now, Gigablast has started indexing all metatags. In addition, Gigablast can display the metatags within the results list, although it is not easy to do. You have to adding commands in the URL of the results list. At the end of the URL, add a &dt= followed by the word(s) for the metatags, followed by a colon, and then a number to represent how many characters from each metatag should be displayed, as in &dt=keywords+author+generator:30 to display the meta-keywords, meta-author, and meta-generator tags for records retrieved.

LookSmart directory results will no longer show up on MSN Search after January 15, 2004. Instead, MSN will show Inktomi results, which already display when no matches in Look-Smart are found or when you use the advanced search.

Google has added a direct Google Glossary function (formerly only at Google Labs) to its main database. The define command works in two different ways using "definitions" found in a definition format on various Web pages. Enter define, a space, and a query word or two, and one "Web definition" may display above regular matches that include the word "define." Or use define: to see all the definitions. Compare define:vapor pressure to define vapor pressure to see the difference.

Google Labs has a new experimental "Search by Location," somewhat similar to a feature that Northern Light offered years ago. Google's version adds a MapQuest map of locations for the hits based on the addresses given. It highlights matching addresses in the keyword in context (KWIC) display, but there is no cache link. At this point, it is limited to U.S. addresses. Searches must include some address information.

InvisibleWeb.com, Intelliseek's directory of invisible Web databases and resources, is gone. That address now redirects to Intelliseek's ProFusion meta search engine. Some of those databases are still searchable within ProFusion's subject search groups, but you can no longer browse the directory of invisible Web resources.

Mooter is a new search engine from Australia which features visual clustering of results. In beta version, and available at mooter.com, it divides results into clusters using a diagram. Clicking the "Moot Quicker!" button displays the clusters on the left and search results on the right. The underlying database is not clearly identified but the clustering technology is interesting.

Yahoo! has moved to tabs on its front page, at least for Internet Explorer users. It displays tabs for Web (the default), Images, Yellow Pages, and Products. The last tab goes to Yahoo!'s relaunched shopping search which includes product information, user reviews, price comparisons, and a price alert feature. Also, on the Yahoo! search page, you can customize which tabs appear using the "Add or remove tabs" link.


Greg NotessGreg R. Notess (greg@notess.com; www.notess.com) is a reference librarian at Montana State University and founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com

Comments? Email the editor at marydee@infotoday.com


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