Excite's new "Zoom In" search refinement feature debuted on the site last month, and the service will be gaining paid listings later this month.
You'll find a new Zoom In button on the Excite home page, next to the regular search button. It also appears by the search box, on the results page. When you enter a word, pushing Zoom In will open a new window to suggest other terms that might help you refine your search. These are primarily a list of the most popular searches related to the word you originally looked for.
If you see a term you like among the Zoom In suggestions, select it, then push the "Apply and Search" button. Your selection will be sent as a query to Excite.
Zoom In also has a spell checker built in, so that if you are uncertain how a word is spelled, it may offer the correct way. For example, search for "leonardo dicapreo," and Zoom In will suggest "leonard dicaprio (sp)." The (sp) part indicates that this is a spelling correction. Similarly, try "geneology," and you'll instead get the correct spelling, "genealogy." Even "speling" gets "spelling" as a suggestion.
I did a quick check on the status on spell checking with other services, and here's a recap of those offering it in some way:
+ Ask Jeeves: Some common spelling mistakes will be corrected through behind the scenes mapping. For example, a search for "leonardo dicapreo" is changed to bring back results matching "leonard dicaprio." A search for "geneology" is also changed to the correct spelling. However, "speling" is not changed to "spelling."
+ Google: Spelling suggestions appear at the top of the results list, with the words "Did you mean" next to the correct spelling, shown as a link. Select the link to rerun the search with the correct spelling. Google caught "speling" as incorrect, but missed "leonardo dicapreo" and "geneology" (though it did get "genielogy"). This is a very limited test, so Google's spell checking may have been much better if I had done a comprehensive set of queries.
+ MSN Search: As with Ask Jeeves, there is behind the scenes mapping for popular terms.
+ Yahoo: Again, behind the scenes mapping for popular terms occurs, as with Ask Jeeves.
Other places such as Direct Hit and NBCi had correct spellings among their "related searches" suggestions, but unlike Excite's tool, they didn't call these out in a way that you could recognize them.
In other news, Excite was the last remaining major search engine not to offer some type of self-serve paid placement listings. Now they are coming to the service, through a partnership with FindWhat.com.
Similar to GoTo.com, FindWhat allows advertisers to appear higher in its search results if they agree to pay more money through an auction system. The distinction between the two has been that GoTo has distribution agreements with several major search engines to carry its results, giving its advertisers far broader reach. FindWhat's deal with Excite now gives its advertisers reach into one of the web's most popular search engines.
The paid listings are supposed to begin at Excite by mid-April. The top four results for a particular keyword at FindWhat will be carried at the bottom of Excite's search results page. They will also appear on Excite-owned WebCrawler.
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