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.
Jeeves added indexed PDF files to its results.
These are tagged with a "PDF file" label in red after
the title. These labels appear in regular search
results, but neither the advanced search page nor
a command line option is available to limit searches
to include only PDF files. No other additional file
types are available at this point. However, Ask has
added more "SmartSearch" shortcuts including movies,
wedding registry, Federal Express and UPS tracking,
U.S. people search, definitions, navigation, sports
teams, terror alerts, do not call registry, and current
events. Most do not require special syntax, and,
like the other SmartSearch shortcuts, the answers
are presented above both the ads and regular search
results. The help page [http://static.wc.ask.com/docs/announcements/searchsmarter.html] has the full list.
For Internet Explorer users, Ask added a "binoculars
preview." The small binoculars icon that shows up next
to many search results lets a user mouse over the icon
to see a small image of the Web page. Ask also announced
that it will be doing away with its pay-for-inclusion
program, although this option will be in effect until
the end of September. It does not yet have any option
for free submission of URLs; whether or not it will
offer free submission remains to be seen.
Gigablast has been busy expanding its database
size. It now claims over half a billion pages indexed.
While that is still considerably smaller than other
search engines, it is certainly gaining ground. In
addition, many of its results appear to be indexed
Google is now indexing the text content of
Flash files. Removed from AlltheWeb, this option is
now only available at Google. A limit is available
by using filetype:swf in combination with search terms.
Google added a local search option (still in beta)
for U.S. locations. Enter a U.S. city name or ZIP code
with search terms and phone directory-style results
appear at the top of the regular results. The local
results include store name, distance from the center
of town, address, and phone number. The direct version
[http://local.google.com] gives more than three results
and also tries to guess Web sites connected to the
businesses. That part does not always work well.
Google Groups now has a Google Groups 2 Beta
(available from Google Labs or directly at http://groups-beta.google.com).
In addition to some differences in display, such as
the annoying lack of the ability to sort by date, which
is available in the regular Google Groups, the main
difference is that Google Groups 2 offers the ability
to create your own groups, rather like Yahoo! Groups.
MSN Search has a new look with a much simpler
front page. Access to other databases is available
in a drop-down menu box. While still powered by a Yahoo!
database, MSN now has a version that does not include
paid-inclusion pages. MSN continues to find fewer results
than the same search done directly at Yahoo!. While
the main MSN Search continues to use a portion of the
Yahoo! database, it has a completely new database under
development. The first public view of this new search
engine is available at http://techpreview.search.msn.com.
Unfortunately, there is no advanced search form and
little documentation. The only advanced search features
currently supported appear to be the site: and link:
field searches. As at Yahoo!, the link: search needs
to start with http://. This preview has a smaller database,
claiming about 1 billion records. While it is worth
a look, it does not always work correctly. In addition,
it does not cluster results by site yet, which hurts
the relevance of its results.
Teoma continues to share its database with
Ask Jeeves, but it only gets some of the new Ask features.
The indexed PDF files are included, with a green "PDF
File" label. Again, no command line or advanced search
limit is available to retrieve only PDF files. Neither
the new search shortcuts nor the binoculars preview
at Ask Jeeves are available at Teoma. However, Ask's
announced removal of the pay-for-inclusion program
also applies at Teoma.
Yahoo! is testing a new design for its results
page. It makes the related search suggestions more
prominent under an "also try" label. The tab options,
which can show results from other Yahoo! databases,
lose their tab look and move to the top in a similar
fashion to Google's new look. Unfortunately, another
major loss is that matching directory categories no
longer display at the top, although the category links
do still display with individual records that are also
listed in the directory. The new design adds a link
to a Yahoo! shortcuts help page. New shortcuts include
area codes, gas prices, ZIP codes, exchange rates,
movie show times, a calculator, conversions, and time
zones. Yahoo!'s toolbar added (in beta) a spyware and
adware button for identifying and removing such programs.
R. Notess (email@example.com;
is a reference librarian at Montana State University and
founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com.
Comments? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.