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Magazines > Online > Sep/Oct 2003
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Online Magazine
Vol. 27 No. 5 — Sep/Oct 2003
DEPARTMENTS
Internet Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University

Internet Search Engine Update goes up on the Web at http://www.onlinemag.net as 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 database.

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.


Greg NotessGreg R. Notess (greg@notess.com; www.notess.com) is a reference librarian at Montana State University and founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com

Comments? Email the editor at marydee@infotoday.com


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