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|VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 3 • MAY/JUNE 2002|
Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Internet Search Engine Update goes up on the Web at www.onlinemag.net as soon as it is written, approximately one month before the print issue mails to subscribers.
AltaVista has changed its default operation on its simple search to AND, usually. It will still do an OR operation if an AND operation would bring up zero or very few results. To force an AND operation, searchers can either use the + symbol in front of each term or do a regular Boolean expression. The Search Assistant (formerly Power Search) is gone, but its search features are integrated into a new Advanced Search page. This new Advanced search page still has the Boolean box, has added several other boxes, offers expanded date and domain limits, and now defaults to 'site collapsing.' AltaVista has returned to the tabbed look on top for access to its various database: Web, Image, Audio, Video, Directory, and News. The Directory (LookSmart) is new as a searchable tab, and the directory categories no longer show up at the bottom of the Web search results. The AltaVista News database now includes thumbnail images for about 20% of stories, and the abstracts have been expanded. AltaVista has also launched "AltaVista Shortcuts" – editorial content for specific searches. The Shortcuts results are integrated in the first page of Web results and are identified by small blue arrows.
Fast Search announced its paid submission and site search combination known as PartnerSite. It has been in beta since last summer and has now officially launched. However, Fast decided to have its partners be the vendors. So Lycos is running Lycos InSite in two versions: Select (paid inclusion only) and Pro (paid inclusion and site search). Those participating in this will also get their pages included at AllTheWeb, but it will not change the ranking of results at either AllTheWeb or Lycos.
Google has launched a news database. Covering over 100 English-language news sources such as the New York Times and CNET, the database is available from Google’s advanced search or directly at http://news.google.com. Stories from diverse sources are grouped by topic, and Google says that the database is updated hourly. Also, on its advanced search page, Google has introduced another specialty search for Microsoft related sites. For the AdWords program (the ads that appear to the right of search results), Google is now ranking those ads based on how much the advertisers bid. This allows them to build a database of ads with which to compete with Overture, but it does not change the ranking of regular results.
Teoma, the Ask Jeeves-owned search engine, launched a paid inclusion program where Web sites can pay by the page to be indexed and included in Teoma and refreshed every week. The payment does not affect the ranking of results, but Teoma does not yet have any free add URL feature. Consequently, the only way to get included in Teoma is to pay or to be crawled by its spider.
iLor switches from Google to Ask Jeeves. Initially receiving positive press this past summer, iLor added several intriguing features on top of the Google database. Now it is using Ask Jeeves' Direct Hit database, but it plans to switch to Ask Jeeves’ Teoma database later this year.
Lycos has introduced Fast Forward, accessible under that name as a link at the end of each search result listing. This new feature provides search results on the side in both Internet Explorer and Netscape and puts the chosen search result in the central window. The intent is to make it easier to browse the results list. In addition, Internet Explorer users will see some "Newsmine enabled" stories in Lycos News. Hover the cursor over highlighted words in these stories and a menu of additional information options are displayed such as pictures, links to Lycos searches, travel information, and more.
WiseNut, following in the footsteps of Teoma, has been bought by LookSmart. Both Teoma and WiseNut were new on the search engine scene last summer, and it is one sign of health in the industry that both have been bought up by more established players in the industry.
Yahoo! has added Google’s PDF and other file types to its version of Google. Previously, the Yahoo! version of Google did not include these kinds of files. While this expands the reach of the Yahoo! version of Google, it is still not as comprehensive as the full version direct at Google. Yahoo! has also brought back the "cool sunglasses" symbol which denotes those sites that Yahoo!’s editors have identifies as their top picks.
The March size comparison of search engine databases at Search Engine Showdown
found Google maintaining its lead with the largest database, followed by
WiseNut and Fast. In addition, there are new explanations and analysis
of Google’s database components including its unindexed URLs and other
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.