[Internet Search Engine Update]

ONLINE, January 2000
Copyright © 2000 Information Today, Inc.


Once again, it has been another few months full of search engine changes, announcements, and new launches.

AltaVista had a major relaunch, redesign, and changed content. On October 25, 1999, they unveiled a new logo, a new slogan, and a new overall design. They dropped their own Usenet database and replaced it with one from RemarQ and added a news database of searchable newswire stories. They adjusted their relevance algorithm boosting the importance of links and began clustering results by site, although results can be unclustered using the advanced search. Company fact sheets show up for many results, drawn from Hoovers and a domain registry database.

With the relaunch, AltaVista began a major advertising campaign featuring their new "Smart is Beautiful" slogan. Part of the advertising copy included claims of a new larger index with 250 million individual pages. While there was certainly a size increase, AltaVista also managed to lose many of the sites it had formerly indexed. These have mostly been added back to the database, but there could still be some missing. LookSmart categories are certainly gone, replaced by the Open Directory. Otherwise, all the search features such as field searching, +, Boolean, NEAR, and limits all work as they did before the relaunch.

Britannica relaunched its britannica.com site. It now includes the full text of the Encyclopædia Britannica. The site's former subject directory of Web sites is still there under the name of "the Web's Best Sites." Britannica.com also includes full-text articles from more than 70 periodicals and links to books available for purchase from Barnes and Noble.

Excite announced (on October 25, the same day AltaVista relaunched) an agreement to acquire Blue Mountain Arts, the online greeting card company. Excite also has dropped Zip2 and now uses AnyWho for its white pages phone number database and WorldPages for its yellow page database.

Infoseek and the Go Web sites had to stop using the Go logo due to a preliminary injunction resulting from GoTo objecting that the Go logo was too similar to the GoTo logo.

iWon.com is yet another site that uses the Inktomi search engine, directory engine, and shopping engine. Registered users of iWon.com can have their names entered in a daily $10,000 cash sweepstakes if they use iWon.com.

InvisibleWeb.com, a directory of more than 10,000 Web-accessible searchable databases was launched by IntelliSeek. The company plans to expand InvisibleWeb.com to include over 100,000 databases.

LookSmart and Inktomi announced an agreement to "develop customized search directories for vertical Web portals and destination sites." Inktomi will add some of the LookSmart content to the Inktomi Directory Engine as an optional product enhancement.

Lycos launched a new rich media search engine at http://richmedia.lycos.com. A product of Fast Search, the rich media search engines can be used for finding pictures, movies, streaming media, and sounds. In another move with partner Fast, Lycos also launched at new music search site at http://music.lycos.com.

MSN Web Search (http://search.msn.com/) has launched its new version using the LookSmart directory and AltaVista for its search engine. It no longer makes use of an Inktomi database or search engine.

Northern Light announced new relevance ranking (on October 25, the same day AltaVista relaunched). The new algorithms give greater weight to Google-like link analysis. Northern Light also made a freely-accessible public access version of usgovsearch available at http://usgovsearch.northernlight.com/publibaccess/. This public access version only searches the government Web sites in the full usgovsearch. It does not include the NTIS database or any of the Special Collection titles. All of the records in the free usgovsearch are in the regular Northern Light database, but the public access version also includes the specialized agency search options.

Oingo, a search engine with meaning-based search enhancements, is now in beta. Available at http://www.oingo.com, it gives options for searching different meanings of search terms. Currently, it uses databases from the Open Directory and AltaVista.

RemarQ has added the ability to search for text within Usenet messages, making it an alternative to Deja.com. The message search capability is also available from AltaVista as a "Discussions" search followed by changing the drop-down box to "Messages."

SavvySearch has been acquired by CNET.

0-0.com is a new directory from West Palm Beach Technologies, Inc. Called a Universal Commerce Directory, the site at http://www.0-0.com claims to offer 2.9 million top-level URLs organized into more than 300,000 categories of products and services.

Greg R. Notess (greg@notess.com; http://www.notess.com) is a reference librarian at Montana State University.

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