AltaVista Submission Changes & Other Developments

Forget everything you ever knew about submitting to AltaVista. A completely new system went up at the site about two weeks ago, one that promises faster addition of web pages to the index, as long as you are not using automated submit software.

When you access the Add URL page, it will display a submission code that must be entered. The code is a series of letters and numbers, but because they are displayed in a graphic format, automatic submission tools cannot read the information. As a result, AltaVista says the new system has stopped submission robots in their tracks.

This is important because submission tools generally send AltaVista so much spam that "good" documents get lost among the junk. For instance, AltaVista said at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in Boston that virtually all of the submissions it receives come from robots, and that 95 percent of all submissions are considered spam. Thus, AltaVista explained, stopping the robots means that the good stuff can get through. This caused the audience of mostly webmasters, web marketers and search engine optimization specialists to break out into applause.

Rather than just percentages, here are some real numbers to consider. AltaVista says that:

+ Of the roughly 300,000 submissions it receives per day, half of these are invalid URLs, such as broken or dead links.

+ Of the remaining 150,000 valid URLs submitted per day, 95 percent of these (142,000) are near-duplicate pages, such as when someone submits hundreds of slightly altered doorway pages to target the same term.

+ This means that per day, AltaVista only receives 7,500 valid, unique pages it deems worthy of adding to its index via the Add URL system (naturally, the AltaVista spider finds many more pages to add on its own).

+ On a typical day, only 400 human beings are estimated to use AltaVista's Add URL page (which I found a surprisingly small number, but there you have it).

+ Since the good pages (7,500 per day) come mostly from humans, and there are about 400 human visitors using AltaVista's Add URL per day, this means an average 19 pages are submitted per day, per human visitor via AltaVista's Add URL page.

Coinciding with the new submission code, AltaVista has also removed the five pages per day, per web site limit it used to observe. There is no longer any limit as to how many pages you can submit to AltaVista, and the company says new pages should appear within a week.

After submitting five pages, the system forces you generate a new submission code. Don't worry about this. It is perfectly acceptable to use the new code to do another batch of five URLs, and so on, until you are done.

The "ransom note" look of the submission code is designed to combat against text recognition programs, but that also means the codes can be hard for even humans to read. AltaVista is working to make them more legible, it says. However, should you be unable to read the code, you can refresh the Add URL page to have a new one generated, which may be clearer.

Finally, AltaVista apparently has a "bulk" paid inclusion program in the works, as it was accidentally pitching this on its Add URL page for a short time. This would be ideal for those who want to submit a large number of pages without fiddling with the new submission code system. I expect to bring more details about this, as soon as they are available.

AltaVista has also debuted a new "Featured Site" paid link that appears above its search results. These are distinct from the "Sponsored Listings" links that appear at the bottom of the search results page and which come from GoTo.com. The Featured Site links are sold directly by AltaVista itself, at a $20 CPM rate. Linked to keywords, they are sold to the first advertiser requesting them. To sign up, I'd suggest contacting AltaVista's advertising department, URL below. To see examples, try a search for "hosting" or "diamonds."

In other AltaVista news, a bug has been preventing it from performing phrase searches properly. For example, if you enter several search terms surrounded by quotation marks, AltaVista is supposed to find pages that contain that exact phrase. This bug seems to be fixed now, but if you find it returning, AltaVista suggests prefacing the phrase search with a + symbol, such as:

+"when in the course of human events"

AltaVista has also launched four new regionally-oriented services: Basque, Galician, Catalan and one for New Zealand. In addition, its BabelFish translation service can now translate from Chinese, Japanese and Korean into English, and vice versa.

AltaVista
http://www.altavista.com

AltaVista Add URL Page
http://add-url.altavista.com/cgi-bin/newurl?

AltaVista Advertising Contact Page
http://shopping.altavista.com/av/advertise.sdc

AltaVista Basque
http://es-eu.altavista.com

AltaVista Galician
http://es-gl.altavista.com

AltaVista Catalan
http://es-ca.altavista.com

AltaVista New Zealand
http://www.altavista.co.nz

Offers nearly 3 million New Zealand-specific web pages, as well as access to AltaVista's global listings.

AltaVista BabelFish Translations
http://babelfish.altavista.com