February 2002 Archive
FirstGov, the U.S. government portal and search engine has launched a new design today. It certainly looks much better and now prominently features three gateways: Citizen, Business, and Government. The search engine appears to be the same for now, although the initial search box has changed a bit. There is still no directory and some government sites are still missing. They have a brief announcement and a survey available.
FAST announces the launch of their paid submission and site search combination known as PartnerSite. It has been in beta for months. With the official launch, FAST decided to have their partners be the vendors. So Lycos has launched Lycos InSite in two versions: Select (paid inclusion only) and Pro (paid inclusion and site search).
AltaVista has again redesigned its front-end and made many changes:
* The Search Assistant (formerly Power Search) is gone, with its search features integrated into a new Advanced Search page.
* The new Advanced Search page has dropped the ranking box, now defaults to 'site collapsing,' and has expanded the date and domain limits.
* AltaVista has returned to the tabs 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.
* AltaVista Basic will now display up to 1,000 results by continuing to page forward.
* The Customization page is harder to find, linked only from the Basic search pages under 'Settings,' and it is now the only way to get more than 10 hits per page. The Advanced Search no longer gives the option to get more than 10 hits at a time.
* They have added a Real Searches page which shows selected actual search statements in each database.
* AltaVista News headlines now include thumbnail images for about 20% (according to AltaVista) of stories, and the abstracts have been expanded.
Google has announced a new pricing structure for their AdWords program, the one that puts the ads in the right hand margin for certain searches. Formerly, the ads were bought based on the number of impressions they received. The new AdWords Select program will be more like Overture in that the keywords are bid on based on a cost per click model. While this will not change the ranking of the regular Google results, it will provide Google with an ad database with which to compete with Overture.
Sometime in the past week or so, Ask Jeeves launched a paid inclusion program for Teoma. At $30 for the first URL and $18 for others, it is currently the only way of adding a URL to the Teoma database. There is no free add URL feature. Ask Jeeves will refresh paid submissions every seven days.
iLor announces that as of today, it will begin using Ask Jeeves databases rather than Google's for its search tools. Initially it will be using Ask Jeeves' Direct Hit database but it will be switching to Teoma later this year.
AltaVista has changed the default operation on their simple search yet again. They have now joined all the other major search engines by defaulting to AND when two or more words in their Basic Search, usually. It is still not always a straight AND. I found some searches that would still do an OR, most often when a straight AND would result in zero results or very few results. As an AltaVista representative put it, "We start with AND, and will OR the terms if this is necessary to get a useful results set, but prefer to stick with AND if there are enough results." To be sure that AltaVista does an AND, it is still safest to use the Boolean operator directly. Search Engine Feature Chart, Search Engines by Feature Page, and the AltaVista Review have all been updated.
Also, on the AltaVista Power Search, or Search Assistant page, there is now a message stating that "Beginning February 21, 2002, AltaVista Search Assistant features will be incorporated into AltaVista Advanced Search."
A WebSideStory StatMarket press release reports that according to their analysis of HitBox use patterns, the majority of Web users now arrive at their destinations via bookmarks or other direct navigation as opposed to using search engines. In Feb. 2001, the found 46% used bookmarks or direct navigation compared to 53% using Web links or search engines. Then in Feb. 2002, the two switch, with 52% using direct navigation and 48% using search engines.
Lycos has introduced Fast Forward which provides search results on the side in both IE and Netscape. Look for the "Fast forward" link after each search result. Click on one and it will open that link in the right part of the browser window and will shrink the search results and put them in the left window.
AltaVista announces the official launch of "AltaVista Shortcuts." This is one attempt to provide content from the "Invisible Web" by providing specially chosen links for common Web searches. From the press release: "AltaVista Shortcuts are integrated directly into the first Web search results page. Users can easily test the new feature by doing a search for their favorite large city (i.e. San Francisco) and then looking for the small blue arrow icons. The arrows will highlight AltaVista Shortcuts to key information on the selected city, including maps, directions, local resources, city guides, weather, yellow pages and more."
Google announces its Search Appliance, a combination hardware and software product for site search on intranets and other Web sites. Pricing starts at $20,000.
I have updated both the Search Engine Feature Chart, the Search Engines by Feature Page, the Excite Review, the Northern Light Review, and other pages to reflect the loss of Excite and Northern Light as a general search engines.