Lycos Redeems Itself With Relaunch

It's been some time since I would have suggested that anyone turn to Lycos to search for anything, but today's relaunch of Lycos is a surprising reversal of the service's decline. If you gave up on Lycos in the past, it is well worth revisiting the improved service.

The Lycos of the past year or so was a terrible mishmash of poor results and confusion. Queries on popular topics tended to bring back results that simply recirculated you back into content only from Lycos. Paid listings were placed at the top of the page as "Featured Listings," then also often stuffed into the "Popular" area, then usually inserted again as another "Featured Listings" detour in the middle of the editorial results.

These past sins are now forgiven. The new layout is clean, well-delineated and features high-quality listings provided by FAST Search. While I'd still give Google the relevancy edge, the improvements FAST Search has made in the past few months have made it an extremely strong contender in the relevancy race.

The changes at Lycos came right as I was finishing the newsletter (of course), so I'll do a fast rundown of the results page and highlight the key points:

You'll usually see three paid listings from Overture (GoTo), at the top of the results page, and these are well identified by the new "Sponsored Search Listings" heading. I think this is much clearer for those who want to know where paid listings appear, and Lycos deserves praise for making the change.

The "Web Results" area is where you will find crawler-based listings provided by FAST. However, if Lycos has its own content relevant to your search, this may appear as the number one listing and is noted as "From The Lycos Network." It's a compact way to alert you to the company's own information, which certainly may be useful, without getting in the way of results across the web, for those who want them.

Lycos is still making use of human-compiled information from the Open Directory, but users are given access to this now through category links that appear below the crawler-based results, within the "Categories" section at the bottom of the results page. Take a moment and review these options -- you may find that a category link helps you narrow in on what you are looking for better than the numbered listings.

Be aware that if you search again using the box at the bottom of the results page, your search will be run only against Open Directory information, not against the crawler-based listings, as was the case with your original search. I think this may be confusing to some people and personally would prefer that the box operate by default just as it does from the Lycos home page.

If you do want to search again against the crawler-based listings, the easiest thing is to scroll back up to the top of the results page, and use the search box there.

The new listing format officially went live today, though you may have encountered it since late last week. The Lycos home page also sports a new look, and the navigational theme and icons at the top of the page carry through to other Terra Lycos-owned web sites, such as HotBot.

The functionality of HotBot has not been changed, as is the case with Lycos. However, Terra Lycos says that HotBot will probably see some "rigorous" changes in the future.

One thing you may have noticed at HotBot is that occasionally, instead of Direct Hit-powered results, you may have been getting mainly Inktomi information or even Overture paid listings. This hasn't been an intentional change but rather some timeout problems that the service suffered in October, Terra Lycos says.

Listingwise, nothing's really changed. If you want to be found at Lycos, you need to be listed with FAST and the Open Directory. The pages below explain this more. Of course, the emphasis is now on FAST's listings -- so if you've been ranking well at, which is FAST's own search site, you'll probably now see more traffic coming from Lycos.

Conversely, if you had been getting good traffic from Lycos and suddenly see a drop, this is probably because you had an Open Directory listing that is no longer exposed to as many Lycos users, because of the new listing format.



New Goes Live
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 2, 2001

I'm hoping to finish a "How FAST Search Works" page later this month. In the meantime, this article covers many key details about the service.

Fast/AllTheWeb Add URL Page

To get listed with FAST, you need only submit your home page and one or two inside pages. Expect a delay of one month or longer until your pages show up, assuming they are indeed accepted. This is not guaranteed to those using the Add URL page.

FAST PartnerSite

FAST is planning to launch a paid inclusion program similar to that offered by AltaVista and Inktomi in December. In the meantime, you can take part in the fee-based beta test. More information is available at the URL above.

How The Open Directory Works

More tips and information on submitting to the Open Directory.

Lycos Add URL

Yes, Lycos still maintains its own Add URL page. The company says this feeds URLs to FAST Search and to the Lycos spider, which is still used for a few international Lycos editions. It won't hurt to use it, but if you've submitted to FAST, most people don't need to do this additional submission.