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Search Engine News Update
What's Happening With AltaVista, AlltheWeb, Yahoo and Others Right Now?
Originally Published: April, 2004
A number of the major engines are going through a turbulent transition period right now. If you've traveled to AltaVista, AllTheWeb, or Yahoo recently, you may be a bit confused. Merging of the three engines is well underway. Therefore, the search results of each engine are much more similar than they were in the past, but they are not always identical.
The submission options for these engines have changed as described
newsletter. In case you were wondering, support for this new submission method is being added to WebPosition Gold.
Spider Engines Update
As regular readers of MarketPosition know, Overture acquired AltaVista and AlltheWeb early last year. Not long after that, Yahoo acquired Overture, giving it control of all three engines. Yahoo then dropped support for Google last month and brought its new engine online based largely on Inktomi technology. The engine may have also been influenced by technology from AltaVista and AlltheWeb.
Lycos and MSN are still serving Inktomi results. Lycos still claims to be influenced by AlltheWeb, but since AllTheWeb's engine no longer exists at AllTheWeb.com, I doubt such claims will persist much longer. At least at the time of this article, MSN and Lycos appear to be returning results similar to the original Inktomi engine rather than Yahoo's newer version of that database.
You'll also notice that the three Yahoo based engines: AltaVista, AllTheWeb, and Yahoo.com are returning similar, although not always identical results. Some variation is common when engines share the same database, but where some partners are using older versions of that database, or are applying a slightly different ranking formula than the others. Don't be surprised if Yahoo decides to use its AltaVista and AlltheWeb brands at least in the short-term to test new ranking technologies. Eventually, I'd expect AltaVista and AllTheWeb to cease independent operations and simply redirect to Yahoo.com to cut operating costs and to consolidate Yahoo's long-term branding strategy.
Keep in mind MSN, while currently an Inktomi partner, continues to trudge forward in the creation of its own search engine. Ultimately, I predict we'll be left with three major "organic" (i.e., crawler or spider-based) search engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN. These engines will supply results to their various partner sites. Those results will be passed to the visitor either unchanged or with the partner site's own twist to the source engine's standard ranking algorithm.
Not unlike today, each major engine will also cater to various regions or countries such as France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Spain, and so forth. We will also see separate niche engines, or additional search features on existing engines to make localized search down to the city, state, and province level easier. Ultimately, consumers will expect, for example, to be able to search Google or their favorite engine and find all furniture stores within a five-mile radius.
On a parallel track to the organic search engines are the major paid or sponsored search sites. These include players like Overture, now owned by Yahoo, Adwords operated by Google, and various independent players such as LookSmart, FindWhat, and others. It would not surprise me if Microsoft acquires its own paid search technology in order to remain competitive with Google and Yahoo.
The long-term fate of dozens of auxiliary industry players is yet to be seen such as AskJeeves, which commands about an 8% market share by some accounts. Certainly, AskJeeves and others like them will be in for an uphill battle considering the size and growing popularity of Google, MSN, and Yahoo.
Open Directory Project & Yahoo Directory
Another influential "auxiliary" player is the Open Directory Project operated by a vast network of volunteers. Open Directory still supplies directory-based results to many major portals including AOL, Google, Lycos, HotBot, and hundreds of others. These are the category links you see next to many of the search results at various engines. These catalogs of similar sites can be handy, for example, in quickly seeing an accurate and reasonably comprehensive list of "Web designer" sites.
The granddaddy of all directory-based catalogs, Yahoo Directory, remains Open Directory's chief rival. While Yahoo takes a strongly commercial approach to cataloging the Web, Open Directory on the other hand goes in the opposite direction. It offers its catalog 100% for free, taking its lead from the Web's popular Open Source movement. For many companies, free is hard to pass up, so Open Directory may persist, assuming they don't run out of money or allow quality to languish.
This article is copyrighted and has been reprinted with permission from FirstPlace Software.
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