FAST Search set a new benchmark in January, when it went unveiled an index of 300 million web pages. This makes it the largest search engine on the web, based on self-reported numbers.
As always, size isn't everything -- but size isn't all that FAST is offering, in its latest release. The search engine has also recently made some noticeable relevancy improvements, and a new partnership with Lycos will allow both companies to take advantage of their strengths.
Advanced search results at Lycos have already come from the FAST index for over a month. In the coming weeks, FAST information will also be merged into the main Lycos search results, Lycos says.
Exactly how FAST will be integrated into the main results remains to be determined. The current mixture of Open Directory and Direct Hit results are to be retained, as are the occasional matches from Lycos spidered index. It seems likely there will either be a separate section for FAST answers on the Lycos results page or FAST information will appear when the other data sources have no matches.
The addition of FAST will go a long way toward making Lycos into a more comprehensive service. Twice, Lycos has come in last for web coverage according to NEC studies. FAST's results will make it far more likely that those looking for unusual and obscure material may find it when using Lycos.
The partnership also helps FAST. It has increased its relevancy primarily by making use of link popularity measurements, but it still doesn't stand up well for popular and general searches when compared to competitors such as Google or search sites that make use of human categorization.
In contrast, FAST will be shielded from having to cope with these types of queries at Lycos. They will probably be answered by material from the Open Directory or Direct Hit. FAST's information will more likely be used exactly when a comprehensive look across the web is needed, allowing it to play on its strength.
Remember -- this isn't the situation yet. To access FAST at Lycos now, you have to go to the Lycos advanced search area, "Lycos Pro."
There, you'll be prompted to choose the type of search you wish to perform, such as for FTP files, MP3 files or Multimedia. By default, "All The Web" will be selected, which lets you search for web documents in FAST's 300 million page index.
These choices are made on the Lycos Pro "Content" tab, which you'll see listed on the left-hand side of the screen. You can search right from this tab, or you can choose one of the other tabs below it to access some advanced features specific to FAST Search.
"Page Field" lets you perform a title, URL or domain search, as described further in the Power Searching article listed below. "Language" lets you find documents that match one of 25 different languages. "Link" allows you to find pages linking to your web site.
Of course, you can also perform searches at the FAST site itself. All the same advanced search features are available there, nicely organized onto one page. The page also has an option to increase results up to 100 at a time.
On the crawling side, FAST says it plans to increase its index to 400 million pages by the middle of this year. It also aims to refresh the index every two to three weeks, downloading new versions of pages as needed. Some pages that change often may be revisited even more frequently than this.
The new partnership with Lycos elevates the importance of being listed with FAST. The good news is that you'll probably find that many pages from your site are already listed within its huge catalog. If not, use the Add URL form to let FAST know of your existence.
You really should only need to submit your home page and maybe a page from within your site, in case the home page is inaccessible for some reason. From there, FAST will likely do a good crawl without the need for a deep submit. However, you can submit individual pages, if desired.
You'll also see an option to chose a category. This information isn't being actively used for anything, at the moment, FAST says. Nevertheless, it makes sense to choose a category relevant to your site.
Select the Advanced Search link from under the search box, and you'll be searching with FAST at Lycos.
Lycos, Dell invest in Fast search engine
News.com, Dec. 17, 1999
Beyond just using its results, Lycos has also made an investment in FAST.
FAST Signs Investment Agreements With Lycos and Dell
FAST, Dec. 17, 1999
Press release about the investment deals, from FAST.
Search Engine Sizes
Charts of reported sizes, plus links to past stories about the size of the web, such as the NEC studies of search engine coverage.
Search Engine Math
Learn three simple, easy commands that can make a big difference when searching.
Power Searching For Anyone
Learn how to do common and useful advanced search tasks.