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|VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 5 • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 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.
AllTheWeb claims it has increased the size of its database to over 2 billion fully indexed Web pages. That number puts it just ahead of Google's claimed number, increasing the likelihood that AllTheWeb will find pages Google and other search engines miss. Other additions include a new PDF documents limit on the advanced search page and, for the CSS-literate user, AllTheWeb Alchemist [www.alltheweb.com/alchemist/], which lets users create their own "skin" for AllTheWeb. This only affects the look and feel of the site. It does not change the search functionality or any of the output.
AltaVista now really defaults to a Boolean AND. After several years of changing the default operation of its basic search box, trying to find the best match for a wide variety of user queries, AltaVista has joined all the other major search engines and switched to a default AND operation for multiple-word queries. It has also launched a new interactive search initiative called Prisma that provides a broad range of suggested terms for refining a search query. It includes broader, related, and narrower terms. Only available for English search terms at present, AltaVista expects to expand to additional languages soon.
Ask Jeeves has a new, simpler design that features three tabs: Web, News, and Shopping. Along with the new design, Jeeves has dropped pornographic links from its results. Ask Jeeves also has a toolbar [www.ask.com/toolbar] that requires Internet Explorer 5 or higher. In the near future, the sponsored links will switch from Overture to ads from the Google AdWords program.
Google has been promoting its fee-based Google Answers service on its regular Google results pages. It also shows up as an option when there are no results. Keyword search capabilities have been added to the Google Answers database, which includes questions, answers, and comments. Google announced the winner of its programming contest. The winner created a geographic search project, but there has been no sign yet of Google using the code in its services.
Inktomi is acquiring Quiver, an automated categorization and taxonomy company. While that shows some signs of where Inktomi plans to go with its search business, the company is also eliminating about 270 jobs, or 40 percent of its workforce. At the same time, the company says that it intends to focus its resources on the Web search and enterprise information retrieval areas.
Lycos has launched what it calls Lycos Search 6.0. It is using the newly enlarged database from Fast Search that includes the PDF files. It is also using a keyword in context (KWIC) display where the extract in the results usually includes the search terms and highlights them. This is different from the AllTheWeb results display.
Teoma, like its owner Ask Jeeves, will also be using the Google AdWords instead of Overture for its ads, listed as "sponsored results." It has also introduced a Teoma toolbar that can be installed within Internet Explorer 5 or higher and is customizable.
WiseNut has added sponsored listings (ads) from LookSmart at the top of its results, but the database is quite old and desperately needs to be updated. As of late July 2002, the records included in WiseNut's database all appear to be from a year ago or more.
Yahoo! has launched a redesign of its home page. Like previous redesigns, it is nothing drastic, but it does clean up the somewhat cluttered page created by the constant addition of new services. News is more clearly identified. Personalization is now available on the top page. The ads moved around, and the directory categories moved lower. Yahoo!'s contract with Google for providing the "Web Pages" results when no directory entries match was up in July, but the agreement was extended until September 2002. Speculation is that Yahoo! will either stay with Google, switch back to Inktomi, or choose a new partner such as Fast. Watch the "powered by" logo in the upper-right-hand corner of the "Web Pages" results to see when and if change occurs.
New Search Engines like to go beta in the summer. Last year it was Teoma and WiseNut; established search companies subsequently acquired both. In 2002, there are again two new search engines that are available in beta form. OpenFind.com premiered in beta with a huge database, claiming over 3 billion pages, but it is still very much a work in progress. Many of the 3 billion records are duplicates or spam. But OpenFind does offer sorting by date and size. GigaBlast.com is much smaller but offers a very simple interface with instant indexing of submissions, an advanced search, date sorting, cached pages, and excellent reporting of both the date spidered and the last modified date. Both engines bear watching, and each may offer some advantages to the professional searcher.
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.