The Search Engine Update, Feb. 19, 1998, Number 23

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,

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In This Issue

+ Site Updates
+ AltaVista Offers Free E-mail
+ HotBot Adds Directory
+ Search Engine For Web Developers
+ Search Engine Discussion Areas Aplenty
+ Search Engine Notes
+ Search Engine Articles

Site Updates

I've updated the AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos and WebCrawler pages within the Subscriber-Only Area. If you haven't read them recently, it's probably worth a quick review.

The offline version has also been updated. I've changed the format slightly, to make it clearer what pages included. Basically, there's a table of contents, rather than the home page. This also serves to help you navigate, as the drop-down menu boxes are no longer available. There are technical reasons why this is so that I won't cover here. However, I expect to tweak the offline edition more in the coming month, hopefully to restore those boxes.

Subscriber-Only Area

In the main site, these pages have been updated:

Search Engine Alliances Chart

Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings

RelevantKnowledge Search Engine Ratings

Of those pages, the main change is in the latest numbers from RelevantKnowledge. They put Infoseek just below second place Excite and AltaVista tied with Lycos for fourth place.

Also, on Saturday, a small search service you're probably not aware of will introduce a new feature that will probably be of interest to marketers. I'll have a link and a short summary up on the Search Engine News page when this goes public, with a longer follow-up in the next newsletter.

Search Engine News

Search Engine News

AltaVista Offers Free E-Mail

AltaVista joins the ranks of Yahoo, Excite and Lycos in offering free email accounts. It has a partnership with iName, which also powers the free email offered by Lycos. Names are of the format

AltaVista Email

AltaVista unveils free email, Feb. 10, 1998,4,19007,00.html

Lots of quotes on how AltaVista is "catching" up with the other search engines. What's more significant is that it feels the need to add these services at all, given that it has become as popular as Lycos without them.

Free email: the next Catch-22?
PC Week, Feb. 10, 1998

Quotes on why adding new free services like email might bring support woes.


HotBot Adds Directory

HotBot has followed on AltaVista's lead last month and partnered with LookSmart to offer a browsable directory of web sites. LookSmart lists about 300,000 web sites in over 17,000 categories.

The directory maintains HotBot's branding, while still providing the same results reachable via the main LookSmart service. Users can take advantage of the service by clicking on any of the links below "Browse By Subject" on the HotBot home page.

"Enhancing HotBot with the Web's most comprehensive directory from LookSmart provides HotBot users another way to locate the information they seek. This new improvement reinforces HotBot's position as the Internet's pre-eminent search site," said Hunter Madsen, senior vice president for marketing at Wired Digital, which runs HotBot.


Keeping Tabs On AltaVista
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 3, 1998

Talks about the addition of the branded directory from LookSmart and how it works, which is similar to how it works with HotBot.


Search Engine For Web Developers

devSearch is a new search engine that crawls only selected sites with information useful to web developers. About 20 sites, including WebMonkey, and are on the crawl list. More are planned to be added. The search engine is backed by the creators of Project Cool.

The advantage to crawling a small list of select sites is that results tend to be much more relevant. It is something that has offered since the middle of last year. By default, it offers web wide searches (drawn from the Infoseek database). However, it also has Infoseek crawl a select list of sites in various categories, such as Computing or Entertainment. Searching within these categories may reveal better results for some people than a web wide search.


A Search Engine by Developers, for Developers
Wired, Feb. 6, 1998


Search Engine Discussion Areas Aplenty

There have been many attempts to create search engine discussions areas for marketers, but these usually become overwhelmed by noise. Now three moderated venues have launched, providing some useful forums.

The best so far is I-Search. This is a moderated mailing list run by AudetteMedia (MMG), which runs other well-regarded lists such as I-Sales.

Issues appear twice per week. Topics include those of interest to marketers and to general search engine users. I also post answers to some questions in "Danny's Corner," which appears every week or so, as time allows.

To subscribe, send email to:, with the word subscribe in the body or subject.

The Search Engine Secrets Discussion List got off to a rough start in January because it was unmoderated. It has just gone back up in a moderated version, which should help cut down on the noise. The list is devoted to promotion and marketing, not for general search engine users.

To subscribe, send a blank email to

VirtualPromote's newly launched Search Engine Forums have been interesting. They are devoted to each of the major search engines, and moderation helps keep the questions and answers tightly focused. A nice web-based interface makes it easy to post and move around. They can be found at:

With all these venues, keep in mind that many things are posted as fact, when in reality they are only speculation.

There are also places to talk about search engines without the marketing emphasis these venues offer. You'll find them at the link below:

Search Engine Mailing Lists

Search Engine Notes

DejaNews Offers Web-Based Newsreader

DejaNews is beta-testing a web-based newsgroup reader service called My Deja News. It tracks what you've subscribed to and what you've read.

My Deja News

Deja News offers personal Usenet, Jan. 27, 1998,4,18517,00.html


Excite Launches Netscape UK Guide

Excite launched its "Netscape Guide by Excite UK" on Feb. 11. The service provides Netscape users with content and links organized into nine channels, such as Entertainment, Sport and Technology. The guide loads by pushing the Destinations or Guide buttons in the UK versions of Netscape 3 and 4. It can also be reached by the link below. This is Excite's third international guide that it has produced for Netscape. It maintains similar ones for Japan and Germany.

Netscape Guide by Excite in the UK


searchUK Comes Out Of Beta

searchUK was officially launched in early February. It has been in beta test since the summer of 1997.

The service indexes only UK-oriented sites. It automatically crawls UK domains, and it adds UK-sites using non-UK domains (such as .com) upon request and review of acceptability.

The site has about 2 million pages listed, and new additions are added each month. For developers, the site offers meta tag support.



MetaCrawler Adds Retailers

It's not just the main search engines that are getting in on retailing partnerships. Metasearch service MetaCrawler has added more online retailers to its MetaCrawler Marketplace. On Feb. 10, it announced that CDnow, Z Auction and eToys would join other recent online retailing partners such as the Audio Book Club and CarSmart. These partners appear prominently along the right-hand side of the MetaCrawler home page.


Search Engine Articles

Does Yahoo Still Yahoo?
Wired, Feb. 11, 1997

Nothing new here to Search Engine Watch visitors, but it is one of the first mainstream articles about problems getting listed in Yahoo. Imagine calling Wired "mainstream!" But it is, in terms of Internet coverage. For more on the topic, see also the Yahoo Special Report,


Search Engines See Huge Value In Community Sites
Internet World, Feb. 9, 1998

Lycos buys Tripod; Yahoo invests in GeoCities. A look at why search engines are interested in these community sites.


Searching for "clean" content, Feb. 13, 1998,4,19139,00.html

Inktomi is being tapped by N2H2 to power a search engine that hopes to be free of objectionable content. Launch is planned for Spring 1997.


The Internet Search-Off
Searcher, Feb. 1998

The Internet Search-Off asked professional researchers to pit traditional services such as DIALOG against web-based services such as AtlaVista. In general, it was found that it takes longer to find information using web-based services, and that searches using web-based services are more likely to bring up irrelevant documents.

However, the Search-Off found that web-based services were useful for certain searches, such as gathering product information. It also lists when to use traditional services (for those with access to them) and when to use either.

The Search-Off also revealed interesting statistics regarding the most popular search engines, as rated by professional researchers. AltaVista was by far the favorite, used for 45% of the searches received in the Search-Off. HotBot came in at 20%, and Excite and Infoseek both rated 14%.


Searchers on the Beachhead
Searcher, Feb. 1998

Internet Librarians gathered in Monterey, California last November for a conference on searching. One of the highlights was a panel of search engine representatives. An account, for those that missed out on the fun.


Keeping 66 Sites Up, Holding Costs Down
Internet World, Feb. 2, 1998

Tech details on what it takes to keep Excite's many servers up and running.


Casting an Information Net
Upside, Feb. 2, 1998

A look at the challenges of information retrieval, ranging from web-based services to information technology. Lots of sidebars, with a listing of main players in different fields.


How Yahoo Won the Search Wars
Fortune, March 2, 1998

Some nice history here on Yahoo's origins and moves it has made in comparison to other search services. I'd disagree with the statement that Yahoo had the "worst technology," since I tend to think humans are the best technology. Interesting statement about Yahoo wishing to deliver the "best of the web." Past articles I've written have documented how easy it is for the "best" to go missing from searches. Also interesting is the statement that Yahoo "spends money on people, not computers." Actually, it spends much more money on its marketing than on its editors.

End Notes

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