Internet Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University
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
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
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
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
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.
R. Notess (firstname.lastname@example.org;
is a reference librarian at Montana State University and
founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com.
Comments? Email the editor at email@example.com.