THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
January 19, 1999 - Number 45
About The Update
The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to Search Engine Watch, http://searchenginewatch.com/.
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In This Issue
+ General Notes
+ Excite Changes Add URL Page
+ SearchUK Adds Spider's View Facility
+ AltaVista Canada Adds News, Government Search
+ Search Engine Notes
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Subscribing/Unsubscribing Info
Just a quick mid-month update -- but expect plenty of news in the subsequent newsletter. Within the site, you'll find the Search Engine Software page has been updated. New additions are services that provide site-specific searching without software installation and some link management packages.
Search Engine Software
Search Engine News
Excite has made some changes to its Add URL page to help it prepare for future regionalization and topical classification of web sites.
In addition to asking for a site's URL, the new page also asks submitters to classify the URL by language, geographical location and category.
The geographical information is being used to some degree to help Excite understand if a site should be included in its regional guides. For example, by default, Excite UK includes United Kingdom web sites that end in the country-specific top level domain of .uk. UK-specific sites that use other top level domains, such as www.british-airways.com, are included on a case-by-case basis. This new geographic option will help editors find sites that should be included in regional guides, although it does not guarantee that they should get in.
It is not necessary to submit a site to all regions, for it to be represented worldwide. Any site listed with Excite is available by default at all its regional guides, when users choose to search the entire web. It is only when they perform a regionally-specific search that some sites may be excluded.
As for the category option, this places a site in a pool that editors can review if they wish to expand directory listings for a particular topic. However, this pool isn't actively used, so don't expect to see your site appear in the Excite directory just because you've selected a category. Sites continue to be added primarily by editors hearing about good sites or seeking them on their own. There is no formal, effective submission process.
Remember, the Excite Add URL page is primarily designed for the submission of web sites, rather than web pages, for spidering. In other words, there is little gained by submitting each and every page from your web site. This can be helpful with other search engines, but at Excite, it has little impact on whether a page appears.
Instead, you should submit only your site's home page. If you've never been listed, you can then expect to see the home page (if it is the home page of a root domain) appear in about a week. In about three weeks, you can expect to see other inside pages appear, regardless of whether they were directly submitted.
I also recommend submitting one or two other key pages that link to other pages from within the site, something which Excite agrees is helpful. This way, if the spider has problems reading the home page, it has another option from which to begin its crawl of the site.
When submitting these extra pages, it makes sense to change the new Add URL category options to match those from when submitting the home page. However, Excite says there is no penalty if you should fail to do this.
Finally, webmasters continue to report problems with their pages "falling out" of the Excite index. The typical case is that pages may be listed, then disappear, then reappear a few weeks later. This has been the case at Excite for over a year, and it is likely to continue.
"As the web is growing, there's going to be cycles where content is coming in and out," said Excite search product manager Kris Carpenter. She added that the service is currently experimenting with ways to better determine which pages should permanently reside in the index.
What do you do if your page has disappeared? The best advice is to have patience. If it has appeared in the past, you can be fairly certain that the spider knows it exists, and so resubmitting really isn't necessary. It will likely reappear in the future.
If the page has never appeared, then submitting it directly at least helps bring the URL to the spider's attention -- though that's no guarantee it will be listed in the index. Submitting directly doesn't significantly improve the odds of a page being listed.
Excite Add URL Page
How Excite Works
More details about submitting to Excite.
SearchUK has added a new "Explorer" feature designed to give webmasters a better idea of how the search engine views their pages. Enter a URL, and Explorer displays words from the page, ranked by relevancy.
Explorer only provides information for pages that SearchUK has already spidered, so you cannot submit a page and get instant feedback. Additionally, SearchUK only spiders pages that are in the .uk domain or related to the United Kingdom. So most webmasters from outside the UK are out of luck.
However, some may find it interesting to see how SearchUK interacts with UK pages, even if they can't see their own. For example, checking on the Yahoo UK home page (http://www.yahoo.co.uk) shows that SearchUK considers yahoo, uk, ireland, news and sport to be the most important terms. That's not surprising, as these terms either appear frequently or early on the page.
To use the service, visit the URL below or reach it from the SearchUK home page by clicking on the "Explorer" link. Don't expect any major revelations, and remember that this shows only how SearchUK itself sees terms on a page, not how all search engines will view a page. Nevertheless, UK webmasters may find it a helpful tool for learning.
AltaVista Canada has introduced two new specialty search services, the Canadian News Index and the Canadian Government Index. The government service has over a million web pages from both federal and provincial government web sites. The news index gathers information from over 300 Canadian news sources daily. To use either of the new services, simply select the appropriate option on the AltaVista Canada homepage. Options appear just above the search box. The service also continues to offer an index of 17 million Canadian web pages and a worldwide search option that taps into the main AltaVista search engine.
Search Engine Notes
Inktomi Partners With RealNames
Inktomi, which powers major search services such as HotBot and MSN Search, will soon be offering RealNames-enabled search results to its search partners, thanks to a new agreement with RealNames-provider Centraal. I'll be bringing more details on the partnership in the next newsletter.
When.com Calendar Site Launches
When.com has launched its events directory and personal calendar web site, in conjunction with an announcement that it will provide a branded version of its services for the Netscape portal. When.com allows users to browse events listings, ranging from Internet chat sessions to upcoming trade shows. Events can then be linked to a web-based personal calendar.
Law Portal Now In Session
Looking for legal information? The new Law.com site aims to be your one-stop destination. You won't find the ability to search legal-related web pages, such as at FindLaw. But there are lots of links, and the service offers free email assistance if you still can't find what you are looking for, after visiting the site. Simply click on the Free Help button at the top of the home page to get help.
Search Engine Articles
Compaq Goes Shopping.com
PC World Today, Jan. 12, 1999
Compaq, owner of AltaVista, has agreed to purchase online retailer Shopping.com in a stock swap valued at $220 million.
See what executives had to say about winning in the portal wars at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Tips on improving your searches, from four different search experts.
Seven Habits Of Effective Searchers
Mining Co. Web Search Guide, Jan. 1, 1999
Some basic and useful tips worth keeping in mind as a means to improving your searches.
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