Most of the major US-based search engines have established European editions over the past three years. Yahoo France, AltaVista Sweden and Lycos Germany are just some of the many examples. But one European player has been just as busy: Voila.
Backed by France Telecom, Voila is a crawler-based service with editions for countries such as France, Denmark and The Netherlands. At any of its European editions, you have the choice of searching across the entire world or just within that particular country or country's language.
At the core of Voila is a 150 million page index. Voila filters out country-specific results from this index primarily by examining the language of a web page or its domain. Thus, a page written in German but hosted within the non-geographic .com domain might still appear when searching for German web pages. Similarly, a page written in English but hosted within the .de German domain might also appear in the German results.
Aside from its main index, Voila maintains a special index of 10 million French web pages, in order to provide especially deep coverage for French speakers.
Beyond Europe, Voila also operates US-oriented Voila.com, but that site isn't meant to challenge the existing US-based search services. Rather, the company maintains Voila.com for users of its other sites that wish to perform an "American" search.
"We need to have an American element to compliment the European effort, said Julie Paratian, managing director of Voila.com. Paratian estimated that about 10 percent of requests at Voila's non-US sites are aimed toward American content.
To satisfy this, Voila.com presents human-compiled information from LookSmart in response to many queries. For instance, search for "travel," and the results in the "Top Matching Channels" area are LookSmart categories. Similarly, the top listings in the "Matching Web sites" area are out of the LookSmart database.
You can also use the icons next to each listing as a guide. LookSmart content is identified by little eyes, while Voila crawler-based results all have a world icon next to them.
A unique feature of Voila are its "Thematic Search Engines," or TSE. Basically, you can think of these as specialty search engines for particular subjects such as Star Trek, movies and James Bond. In general, only pages about these subjects should be within each TSE.
For instance, a normal search for the television show "ER" on Voila.com yields no relevant crawler-based results. But search for "ER" using the television TSE, and all but one of the top results is about the popular medical show.
Voila also offers a useful "Highlight Keyword" feature. This option appears below each page that it lists. Select the option, and Voila will present the page with all your keywords highlighted.
Looking to submit to Voila? To be included in its crawler database, just submit to any one of the Voila editions. Voila says there's no need to do a deep submit -- just your home page should be enough. For added insurance, also submit an additional page in case your home page is unreachable, for some reason.
Once listed, you'll be available to come up for any worldwide search. However, you may be filtered out of country specific searches if your domain or page language doesn't match what Voila is looking for. Later this month, I'll be adding a new More About Countries And Languages page that talks about these types of issues and ways to adjust for them.
Direct route to all Voila's Thematic Search Engines.
Voila.com Add URL Page
Links to all the Voila editions.