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|VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 2 • MARCH/APRIL 2002|
Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University
AltaVista has introduced several listing enhancements that are available for a fee but do not change ranking. These include logos, descriptive icons, custom tag lines, and text links. These are like enhanced yellow page listings, providing more information for some of the hits. The custom tag lines can be updated by the Web site owner. The text links can offer several links from within the description of the site, pointing to major section. For example, the MyStore.com description could have text links to their catalog, specials, and a store locator. AltaVista has also removed the ability to view the dates of Web pages. Awhile back it was removed as a default but still available from the customization page, but it is no longer an option there.
Ask Jeeves, which purchased new search engine Teoma several months ago, now includes Teoma results after its question and answer matches. The Teoma-powered results are not labeled as such, but they are the hits that appear under the heading “You may find my search results helpful.” According to the company press release, the inclusion of Teoma results increased user satisfaction by 25%.
Excite is no longer a separately built search engine. The site remains, and its personalization capabilities remain, but the search engine is gone. Now all the results on Excite are the Overture (formerly GoTo) paid-positioning items followed by hits from Inktomi.
Google has continued to be very active with many changes. Google Groups is not only out of beta, but has expanded its coverage of Usenet news postings all the way back to May 1981. It also enlarged its Web database to include over 1.5 billion fully indexed Web pages including 35 million non-HTML documents such as PDFs, Postscript, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and RTF.
On the search feature side, Google automatically searches for stop words when they are in phrases. It no longer requires the + sign in front of stop words if they are in a phrase, even ‘the’ which used to be unsearchable on Google. At the same time, Google has added more stop words in Chinese and German, but these are only stop words if the appropriate language limit is enabled and the words are not within a phrase. Also, Google now supports using the asterisk * within a phrase to represent any word, something AltaVista has long supported. However, the asterisk does not work for truncation anywhere else.
Google has a new database in beta: a catalog database. There is a link to it at the bottom of the advanced search screen, and it is directly accessible at http://catalogs.google.com/. This is a database of scanned pages from print mail-order catalogs. The database is text searchable, and it displays the full-page images from the catalogs.
Inktomi has incorporated new regional identification and blending technologies, as well as enhanced language analysis, into its Web search engine. This can have different results at each partner search engine, but provides the ability for the partners to provide more geographic context for international search results. This should mean that country-specific Inktomi partners should be able to more accurately identify Web sites related to the region, even when they have a different top level domain or are not in the native language.
Lycos has made a major change to the layout of its advanced search page. Beyond the layout, the new design makes it easier to combine various field searches and to specify which database to search. These databases include the Fast Search database under the label of Lycos, Direct Hit, the Open Directory, and Overture.
Northern Light has abandoned its Web search engine. It no longer offers any Web searching for the public at its site. While it has shut down the Web side of its search engine, the Special Collection is still available for free searching. News search is still free, as are alerts and Special Editions. The Power Search page has removed all features only useful to the Web side, but a menu option to see up to 100 results at a time has finally been added.
Teoma, in addition to having its search results displayed on Ask Jeeves’ site, is scheduled to come out of beta in the second quarter of 2002. The Teoma search engine site remains the only one that offers separate links to metasites that match the query term, under the heading of “Experts’ Links.”
WiseNut has a new licensing deal with Lycos Japan to be its search engine. Lycos Japan will include WiseNut’s WiseGuide folders as well as their "Sneak-a-Peek" feature that allows Internet Explorer users to see a portion of the results page within the regular search results list.
now charging an annual fee for sites within the commercial hierarchies.
Formerly, Yahoo! only charged once for submission within those areas. The
sections under the Business and Economy heading are now labeled as the
"Yahoo! Commercial Directory." Submissions to the other areas of the directory
can use the free service or the one-time Yahoo! Express submission.
Greg R. Notess (firstname.lastname@example.org; www.notess.com/) is a reference librarian at Montana State University and founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com.
Comments? Email the editor at email@example.com.