The Search Engine Update, Sept. 22, 1998, Number 37

Search Engine Watch

September 22, 1998 - Number 37

By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch

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

+ General Notes
+ Microsoft Unveils MSN Search
+ Infoseek To Release Metasearch Software
+ Excite Now Supports Meta Description Tag
+ Infoseek and Disney Announce New Site Plans
+ Infoseek Check URL Service Suffers Bugs
+ Search Engine Notes
+ Subscribing/Unsubscribing Info

General Notes

Hello Everyone-

A day after my return from the US, we moved house. As you can imagine, it's been rather hectic for me this past week. Consequently, I plan to follow up in more depth on a few of the news stories below in the next newsletter. I also hope to have posted some updates throughout the site. Now if I could only find where I put my computer….

Search Engine News

Microsoft Unveils MSN Search

Microsoft has finally debuted its Inktomi-powered search service, MSN Internet Search. The service went live as a beta site on Sept. 8. Next month, Microsoft will also be changing the line up of other search services offered alongside its own service. Departing as top choices will be Yahoo, Excite and AOL NetFind. Left will be Infoseek and Lycos, joined by newcomers AltaVista and Snap. Combined, these players are said to have paid US $60 million for the privilege of being listed. The contracts are for one year.

MSN Internet Search

Pulldown Pay Dirt
Wired, Sept. 21, 1998


Infoseek To Release Metasearch Software

Last issue, I wrote about several software packages that allow metasearching from the desktop. By the time you receive this, Infoseek should have released its own Java-based package called Express. I'll review it in more detail next issue, but having seen a preview earlier this month, I can say it will definitely be of interest to those that like this type of software. It features browser integration and is free of charge -- and it does not just feature results from Infoseek over other search providers. Everyone's web results are mixed into the listings that the software returns.

Infoseek Express

Search Utilities Go Beyond Metasearch
The Search Engine Report, Sept. 2, 1998

What's metasearch software? This article from the last newsletter explains common features and examines some recently updated programs.


Excite Now Supports Meta Description Tag

No, it's not your imagination. The page summaries at Excite are beginning to make more sense, now that the service has begun supporting the meta description tag. There is no relevancy boost associated with using the tag, but the ability to control how a page is described will come as a great relief to webmasters everywhere -- as well as some users puzzled by the old descriptions that Excite used to generate automatically based on page copy.

Excite had long refused to honor the tags, because webmasters were sometimes misleading in how they described their pages. This type of spamming has now greatly disappeared, so much so that Excite felt that the tags were now of value, according to Kris Carpenter, Excite's director of search services. Now, only Lycos among the major search engines does not support the meta description tag.

The change also affects Excite-run WebCrawler. Pages with description tags listed in Excite and WebCrawler will see their descriptions appear in the coming weeks, as the index is refreshed. Many page descriptions have already been updated.

For pages without tags, Excite will still automatically generate a summary, and it says its description generation software has been improved. The meta keyword tag still is not supported at either Excite or WebCrawler.


How To Use Meta Tags

A recent survey found only about 30 percent of pages use meta tags. Learn why you should be using them, and how to do so, on this article within Search Engine Watch.


Infoseek and Disney Announce New Site Plans

Infoseek and Disney have released more details about their plans for a new portal site. It's to be launched in November under the name Go Network and is to combine content from sites such as and

Go Network

Infoseek and Disney Prep for New Portal, Sept. 21, 1998


Infoseek Check URL Service Suffers Bugs

Infoseek's Check URL service is currently not working, causing some people to believe that their pages aren't being listed, when they are. Infoseek is hoping to fix the problem soon, though there is no date as to when this may happen, according to Infoseek's Nilo Zaratan, who oversees the spidering system.

In the meantime, there is an easy workaround. See the link below for the "Checking Your URL" page, which explains how to use the url: command at Infoseek to find your pages.

Infoseek also recently suffered problems with processing some email submissions. That, coupled with the Check URL problem, fed a rumor that pages from the domain were not listed. This is definitely not the case. There is no ban on pages from within this domain, Zaratan said.

Checking Your URL

Search Engine Notes

Excite Communities Out Of Beta

Excite's new communities service is now accessible to anyone, having opened to the general public on Sept. 16. It launched as a beta service, at the same time that Yahoo debuted its own communities service. At both places, users can create mini-sites within the portals that offer special features such as discussion areas. The article below provides more details.

Excite, Yahoo Debut Community Areas
The Search Engine Report, Sept. 2, 1998

Excite Communities

Yahoo Clubs


Infoseek Becomes Default on WebTV

Infoseek is taking over from Excite as the default search provider on Microsoft's WebTV service in October. Infoseek will also handle ad sales for the service. Infoseek is paying a guaranteed US $26 million for the two year agreement, which was announced on Sept. 10. Excite had been WebTV's default choice for the past two years.

Infoseek Pays WebTV $26M To Be Its Search Service
Internet World, Sept. 14, 1998

WebTV to use Infoseek--but why?, Sept. 10, 1998,4,26185,00.html


Yahoo Online Looking For New Provider

Yahoo was the first search service to offer its own branded internet access service. Now it's ending its partnership with MCI to provide Yahoo Online, which debuted in March. The split-up is due to MCI's merger with WorldCom, in which MCI must sell off its internet access services. Yahoo is looking around for a new provider -- since AT&T has been successful in providing branded internet access services for Excite, Infoseek and Lycos, it wouldn’t be surprising if Yahoo takes the quick and easy step of going with the carrier.

Yahoo, MCI deal goes bust, September 14, 1998,4,26344,00.html

Turning Users Into Members
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 3, 1998

A previous look at why these internet access deals might be significant for the various services.


Northern Light Opens News Search Service

Northern Light has introduced a news search service called Current News. Information in the index is gathered from various news sources, such as the Associated Press and Business Wire. Content is constantly refreshed throughout the day. Options include the ability to sort news by date or relevance, and to narrow searches to within predefined categories and timespans.

Current News


Inktomi Invests In Shopping Search

Inktomi has agreed to purchase C2B Technologies, which develops comparison shopping software, for a $90 million stock swap. Inktomi plans to use the acquired technology to create a shopping search service that it can offer to its partners. The announcement came on Sept. 1.

Search Engine Articles

Behind the Search Engines
FamilyPC, October 1998

No surprises here to readers of this newsletter. The article covers, briefly, trends like GoTo's placement selling and AltaVista's partnership with RealNames. There's also brief mention of meta tag abuse.


As Portals Go Beyond Search, Customer Service Lags Behind
Internet World, Sept. 21, 1998

Writer Whit Andrews lets fly at a few services where he and others have encountered puzzling behavior. I have no doubt many will be agreeing with his sentiments.

End Notes

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This newsletter is Copyright (c) Mecklermedia, 1998