Internet Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University
Search Engine Update
goes up on the Web
soon as it is written, approximately one month before
the print issue mails to subscribers.
AlltheWeb now offers suggested spelling corrections.
After the number of search results and before the first
hit, AlltheWeb may include a line with “Did you
mean …” followed by the suggestion. Clicking
on that suggested term automatically gets the results
for that spelling. Rather than simply relying on a
dictionary file of English words, the suggestions also
appear for words not in English and for commonly used
terms, such as names and acronyms, that would not occur
in a dictionary.
Altavista has loaded larger multimedia databases
for its image, audio, and video searches. It now claims
to have 540 million images and about 11 million video
and audio files. On the AltaVista image search, a new
search limit is the “Size” limit, referring
to the dimensions of the image, with options for small,
medium, large, and several standard wallpaper dimensions.
AOL Search has added an image search database,
available as a separate tab. It consists of a simple
query box with no advanced search options. Like the
underlying Web database at AOL Search, the image database
comes from Google but without the advanced options.
In addition, it is the version with “strict filtering” turned
on, thus some results sets may differ a bit from the
same search at Google.
Ask Jeeves has sold off its enterprise search
division, Jeeves Solutions, to Kanisa. By selling off
its enterprise search products, Jeeves will focus on
its Web-wide search products, which include the Ask.com
site and Teoma.
Dogpile, an InfoSpace metasearch engine, has
introduced a Dogpile toolbar. For users of Internet
Explorer 5.01 or higher on a Windows platform, the
toolbar can be installed within the browser and provides
quick access to the Dogpile metasearch engine results
along with search options for U.S. yellow and white
pages, a dictionary, a thesaurus, stock quotes, public
records, and maps. Customizable by the user, the toolbar
can default to a variety of search choices and which
buttons will be displayed.
Feedster, a search engine for blog postings
and RSS files, has merged with rssSearch, another blog
search engine. The combined search engine will continue
under the Feedster name and has been able to expand
the number of advanced search features such as field
searching, truncation, phrase searching, full Boolean,
range searching, soundex searches, regular expressions,
and date limits. Most advanced techniques require special
syntax, listed in the Help file.
FindWhat, a lesser-known paid-ranking ad engine,
is buying the European ad engine, Espotting. The combined
reach of the two companies may make FindWhat into a
more serious competitor for the search engine ad space.
Gigablast, while still the only major search
engine to default to OR, now includes a bar at the
top to explain this for multi-word searches. Software
updates have doubled the speed of query responses and
increased the importance of phrase matches in the relevance
ranking. Gigablast has also finally started a full
update to its database.
Google has launched a beta version of its
Toolbar 2.0. The new version [http://toolbar.google.com/index-beta] has
several new features, including a pop-up blocker, the
ability to automatically fill out forms, and a BlogThis!
button to instantly create a blog post about the page
you are viewing, as long as you have a blog on Google-owned
Blogger. The toolbar still only works with Internet
Explorer and on Windows.
Google has also moved further into the advertising realm with the introduction
of its Google AdSense program, a self-service advertising program for smaller
sites. Somewhat like an affiliate program, AdSense lets Web publishers put
Google text ads on its site and split the revenues. Google uses link analysis
techniques to match advertisers with participating Web sites. Sometimes these
automated matches make sense, and other times they do not.
Hotbot also launched a new toolbar, although
it is called a desk bar. It differs from the Dogpile
and Google toolbars in that it does not get installed
within the browser, but runs from the Windows Explorer
Taskbar. While it only works in Windows and says that
it requires Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, it will
actually work with any default browser. To HotBot’s
credit, it not only works with other browsers, but
it works with other search engines as well.
Intelliseek has discontinued BullsEye, its
desktop metasearch engine tool. Its announcement says
that sales and support for BullsEye Plus and BullsEye
Pro have been discontinued, but even the free version
of BullsEye is no longer available.
MSN Search has relied on LookSmart, Overture,
and Inktomi for years. Now it seems to be preparing
a new database built by its own crawler. The new MSNBOT
is actively crawling the Web [http://search.msn.com/msnbot.htm].
This is only a prototype crawler and none of its crawling
is directly feeding the MSN Search database. However,
the FAQ states, “Although we have not set a date,
it is our intention to eventually integrate the crawled
contents into MSN Search results.” So it looks
like MSN Search will eventually have its own unique
Yahoo! now has become an even more important
player in the search engine industry, as it is acquiring
Overture, which in its own turn had already acquired
AltaVista and the FAST Web Search division, including
AlltheWeb, earlier this year. Combine that with last
year’s acquisition of Inktomi, and Yahoo! has
gathered three major search engines into its stable:
Inktomi, AltaVista, and AlltheWeb. While the deal may
not be finalized until the end of this year, it still
leaves Yahoo! in the unusual situation of having three
major search engines while using one it does not own,
Google, to provide most of its search results. Expectations
are high that sooner or later this year, Google will
be out at Yahoo! to be replaced by one of its own.
R. Notess (firstname.lastname@example.org;
is a reference librarian at Montana State University and
founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com.
Comments? Email the editor at email@example.com.