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.
expanded the number of file types it indexes. Beyond
the PDF, Microsoft Word, and Flash files it has been
indexing, it now covers Rich Text Format, PowerPoint,
Excel, PostScript, WordPerfect, and StarOffice. To
limit to one of these new file types, use the filetype:
command followed by the name of the file format (rtf,
powerpoint, excel, postscript, wordperfect, or staroffice).
These are not yet available on the advanced search
form. AlltheWeb announced a major size increase, from
about 2.1 billion to about 3.2 billion. At the time
of the announcement, that was a bit larger than Google's
AltaVista, in keeping with all the other search
engines, now has a toolbar as well. It actually has
some useful features that differ from the other toolbars.
It does require IE 5 or higher and Windows 95 or higher.
Like others, it has site search along with AltaVista's
Web, news, images, audio, and video databases. It also
has AltaVista's popular translation option and dictionary,
calculator, time, conversion, weather, and other popular
information options. It even includes a pop-up blocker,
like Google's Toolbar 2.0.
Gigablast has been rather busyadding
full Boolean searching, the indexing of PDF and other
file types, and some metatags. The full Boolean is
available from the main page search box and supports
nesting. Operators are AND, OR, AND NOT and should
be in all uppercase. Gigablast now indexes PDFs, PostScript,
PowerPoint, Excel, and Microsoft Word files. The file
type limit is different from other search engines,
using type: followed by the appropriate file extension
(pdf, ps, ppt, xls, or doc). In addition, Gigablast
is introducing new metatags and indexing them, including
zipcode, city, state, country, author, language, and
Google has introduced a new operator, the
tilde (~), for searching synonyms. It should be placed
immediately before a search term, with no space. It
uses some of the technology behind the Google Sets
experiment to try and determine similar words, and
not all are actual synonyms. It sometimes includes
plural and singular forms of the synonyms. Google is
also experimenting with a "Search by Location" [http://labs.google.com/location].
It includes a map of locations and highlighting of
addresses, but there is no cache link, and its matches
for locations may appear at odd places in the results.
Following in the footsteps of AlltheWeb, Google has
added a built-in calculator function. Input numbers
(or the word for a number) as a mathematical equation,
unit conversion, or physical constant in the query
box and send them as a search statement to get an answer.
Also in response to AlltheWeb's announced 3.2 million-page
database, Google boosted its number to 3.3 billion.
At about the same time, it started tagging some records
with "Supplemental Result" right before the cached
link. This is an experimental project and such results
will only display if the total number of results is
below some threshold number.
Google Dance: Of course, as soon as I took
the time to describe the Google Dance in detail (my
September/October 2003 "On the Net" column), Google
significantly changed its update cycle. In the summer
of 2003, the update changed from a huge, complete update
occurring once a month or so to a more incremental
approach. While the new approach is still changing,
results from different data centers do not vary quite
as much and there is no longer just one time each month
where the results are so tremendously different. On
the other hand, Google seems to have a wider range
between older records and newer ones, and it is no
longer clear how frequently its entire database is
Google News now has an advanced search page
and alerts. The advanced search includes options for
sorting by date, specifying the news source, a location
limit, a date limit, and field searches for headline,
body, and URL. The news alert service is in beta at
www.google.com/newsalerts. It does not yet incorporate
the advanced search form and only gives two frequency
options: the default "once a day" and an "as it happens" option.
HotBot, which offers four different search
engine databases, has changed the names of three of
the four. It has moved to names known better by the
general public. So, Inktomi is now just "HotBot," FAST
is now called "Lycos," and Teoma is "Ask Jeeves." A
new feature, each of the four now offers spelling suggestions,
and the suggestions can change depending on which database
is chosen. It is a convenient way to compare the various
Lycos now includes results from LookSmart
in its Web Results section. While the AlltheWeb (FAST)
database continues to make up the bulk of the Lycos
underlying database, for about 50,000 popular keywords,
10 listings from LookSmart will display first. The
advanced search bypasses the LookSmart results and
goes directly to the FAST results after the regular "sponsored" ads.
Also, Lycos has renamed "Fast Forward" to "Sidesearch." Sidesearch
is a toolbar-like installation that only works in IE
5.01 or higher on computers running Windows 98 or higher.
Instead of being a toolbar at the top, it shows up
on the side. When you search another search engine,
such as Google, it also runs a Lycos search in the
Shopping.com has launched anew as a combination
of the old Dealtime and Epinions sites. This newly
relaunched shopping search engine includes the price
comparison features and product metadata from Dealtime
and consumer reviews from Epinions. Both of the other
two sites will continue to operate separately. The
Shopping.com search gives narrowing options for price,
brand, and product-specific features. It also offers
several sorting options such as price, rating, relevance,
and store rating.
Yahoo! has relaunched its shopping search
site [http://shopping.yahoo.com]. Shopping results
appear on a regular Yahoo! search under a new "Products" tab.
Like Shopping.com, results include product information,
user reviews, and a price comparison feature. Yahoo!
has fewer narrowing and sorting options, but its underlying
database draws primarily upon the Yahoo! stores, a
different collection of merchants than Shopping.com.
Sometimes Yahoo! has more stores listed, and sometimes
Shopping.com has more. Yahoo! shopping even has an
alert feature to send e-mail alerts when prices change.
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.