Internet Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University
Search Engine Update
goes up on the Web
soon as it is written, approximately one month before
the print issue mails to subscribers.
As expected, now that Yahoo! has launched its own
Yahoo! Search database, this has meant the death of
unique databases at older search engines, including
AltaVista and AlltheWeb.
AlltheWeb and the other FAST Web search engines
no longer have their own database. Unfortunately, not
only is the database gone, so are many of the unique
AlltheWeb search features. The current database being
used at the AlltheWeb site appears to be a smaller
version of the Yahoo! Search database. The other databases
(images, audio, video, and news) remain, except for
the FTP database, which is also gone. Lost search features
include drop-down field searches options for "in the
URL," "in the host name," and "in the link to URL." Boolean
operators must now be in uppercase (NOT replaces andnot).
Fourteen language limits have disappeared: Afrikaans,
Basque, Byelorussian, Faeroese, Frisian, Galician,
Indonesian, Latin, Malay, Serbian, Swahili, Ukrainian,
Vietnamese, and Welsh (although Farsi is now available).
Searchers also no longer have access to the IP range
limit, the page size limit, the media type inclusions,
and the indexing of text within Flash files and its
corresponding limit. So with the loss of the unique
Web database, are there reasons to still consider using
AlltheWeb? At this point, the only obvious use is for
the audio and video databases, which are also available
at AltaVista but not at Yahoo! However, a Yahoo! representative
says that it recognizes the unique audience at AlltheWeb
and may provide special features there in the future.
AltaVista has also died, at least as a unique
search engine database. The AltaVista Web database
has been replaced with the same version of the Yahoo!
Search database as AlltheWeb. Like at AlltheWeb, many
advanced search features have been lost. Truncation
and wild cards are gone, which unfortunately means
that truncation is no longer available at any major
search engine. The same is true of the NEAR operator
and other proximity searching beyond phrase searching.
Case-sensitive searching is gone. Neither case-sensitive
searching nor the NEAR operator is supported any longer
at any other search engine. AltaVista also lost the
ability to use certain field searches: anchor, applet,
image, text, and like. The region limit has vanished.
Since the Web database, at this point, seems to only
be a smaller version of Yahoo!'s, there is little reason
to continue to use AltaVista beyond the Video and MP3/Audio
databases that are not yet available at Yahoo! Search.
As with AlltheWeb, Yahoo! says that it recognizes the
unique audience at AltaVista and may provide special
features there in the future.
Ask Jeeves introduced a new shortcut for celebrity
searches. Recognizing the large percentage of searches
related to celebrities, Ask will now display some basic
information about many celebrities and famous historic
personages at the top of the search results. This shortcut
contains a brief biography extract with a link to a
more extended version from Who2.com. It also contains
links to Pictures, News, Products, Official Web Site,
Filmography, and Discography.
Gigablast finally made the switch to a default
AND operation, joining the same practice of all the
major search engines. Entering more than one word now
will automatically search for all the query terms by
default. When no results are found, as well as at the
end of the list of AND matches, Gigablast will give
a link to "Show relevant partial matches," which links
to an OR search.
Google is finally starting the process of
its much-anticipated initial public stock offering.
However, for the searcher, the significant changes
have to do with Google's new look and new search features.
The new appearance has had the negative impact of the
removal of the directory tab (along with the tab design
in general) and its replacement with Froogle, Google's
shopping search. Directory category headings are no
longer suggested at the top of the results lists, and
individual results no longer include directory categories.
Other cosmetic changes include the removal of the color
background on the side ads and putting the search query,
definition, and count on the right side of the header
bar. One new and potentially very useful search syntax
from Google is the number range search. It covers numbers
with and without commas and includes decimal numbers.
To use this number range search, just put the smaller
number, two periods, and a larger number either by
themselves or with other query words. Adding a dollar
sign to the first number invokes the price range search
which does actually search for occurrences of the dollar
sign as in good books $5..11. However, it does not
yet recognize the pound (£), Yen (¥), or
Euro ( )
HotBot dropped one of its four databases.
Since the Lycos database is no longer from AlltheWeb
and FAST Web Search, it became the same as the one
labeled HotBot, which is another version of the Yahoo!
database. So now HotBot has three database to choose
between: HotBot (Yahoo!), Google, and Ask Jeeves (Teoma).
Lycos had to find a new search engine database
with the demise of the FAST Web Search (AlltheWeb)
database. Despite its new emphasis on social networking,
the search box remains. Lycos is now shows an Inktomi
logo and uses basically the same database from Yahoo!
as is seen at AltaVista and AlltheWeb. For certain
popular queries, Lycos will give the first 10 or so
results from the LookSmart directory, many of which
are paid (ad) listings.
Yahoo! dropped another Google database. After
switching earlier this year to its own Web database,
it now is using its own image database as well. It
is based on the image database used at AlltheWeb and
AltaVista, although there are some variations in the
results retrieved from each one.
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.