[Internet Search Engine Update]

ONLINE, November 2001
Copyright © 2001 Information Today, Inc.

AllTheWeb has added advertisements to its search engine. While none show up on the home page or the advanced search form, banner ads at the top and box ads in the right-hand margin now appear on search results pages.

AltaVista finally has a new CEO, James Barnett, formerly president of MyFamily.com. At the same time, it announced a repositioning of its comparison shopping service (formerly Shopping.com) to a search functionality, and emphasizes an exclusive search focus. In August, AltaVista expanded on its paid inclusion offerings with its "Trusted Feed" program, which lets companies submit 500 or more URLs via an XML feed. This can include dynamically generated Web content as well as standard HTML pages.

BrightPlanet has released version 2.0 of its LexiBot desktop client search tool. Version 2.0 can search among 2,000 databases considered to be part of the invisible Web. This is a commercial product, but a free trial is available.

Excite started clustering its results by site sometime this summer. There is no way to "ungroup" the results, a feature available from other search engines. It also does not identify which hits have more than one page per site available, since all results give a "more from this site" option at the end of the record. The advanced search page has been redesigned, although its functionality remains the same.

Google also has a new CEO, Eric Schmidt, formerly CEO of Novell and CTO at Sun. On the day of the announcement, Schmidt stated in an interview that the privately held Google is profitable, although the financial details were not made public. Google appears to be in a buying mood. It purchased Outride Inc., a small firm that had been working on improving relevance technologies in information retrieval. How these technologies may be integrated into Google, if at all, remains to be seen.

Google Groups has added an enhanced thread-view capability, similar to the old thread view from DejaNews. Click the "View Thread" link at the end of a result to see the posting, with a tree view of the thread in a separate frame. In addition, the full, original, detailed header information for each Usenet posting is available from the non-threaded display by clicking on the "Original Format" display option.

GoTo is planning on changing its name to Overture effective Oct. 8, 2001. Whether all traces of the GoTo name will disappear or not is still uncertain, but searchers should be sure to look for either name to identify those links from other search engine results which are bid-placement, pay-per-click ads from GoTo (or Overture).

HotBot, whose truncation and wild card symbol had ceased to work for much of this year, is now back in the truncation business. The asterisk again works for front, internal, and end truncation, making HotBot the only major search engine with front truncation capabilities. However, since this wild card capability has been intermittently unavailable, it may go away again.

NBCi has switched databases. Formerly, NBCi had its own directory and used Inktomi for its search engine. That is now all gone. Instead, NBCi is using the metasearch engine, DogPile, which serves up results from GoTo, LookSmart, FindWhat, and Sprinks, among others. Consequently, searches on NBCi now give results primarily from paid positioning search engines.

Northern Light has quietly changed its main search page back to the way it used to be. It has added back the ability to search the Web, its Special Collection, or All Sources as buttons right under the search box. The All Sources includes both the Web and Special Collection, and is the default option.

Teoma, one of the newer search engines, has been bought by Ask Jeeves. The www.teoma.com site still remains available and is still labeled as beta. Ask Jeeves has said that the Teoma site will remain as a pure search engine, but that the technology will be incorporated into other Ask Jeeves sites, which include both Direct Hit and the Ask Jeeves site itself.

WiseNut officially launched out of beta on Sept. 4, 2001 and has a new design, new logo, and a new feature. The new search feature is called Sneak-a-Peek and is listed after each result. In Internet Explorer, clicking Sneak-a-Peek will bring up an abbreviated, scrollable window below the search result which contains the actual Web page.

The Numbers: The August size comparison of search engine databases at Search Engine Showdown (www.searchengineshowdown.com/stats) found Google maintaining its lead with the largest database, with Fast (used by AllTheWeb and Lycos) and the newer WiseNut filling out the top three. Northern Light, HotBot, and AltaVista were close to each other in the second group of three.

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

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Copyright © 2001, Information Today, Inc. All rights reserved.