That ever changing service AltaVista has once again altered its appearance, as well as having added some new features. Chris Sherman has rundowns on these, below. AltaVista has also gone from using a default Boolean OR operator to a default AND operator. Tara Calishain and Greg Notess have excellent write-ups on this development, which are listed below.
AltaVista has also resurrected once again a feature showing what people are searching for on the service. A link to "Real Seaches" is listed below. You can see real time searches on the web index, as well as in other areas such as image searching.
Meanwhile, AltaVista is closing the free email service that it offered to 400,000 people at the end of this month.
In another change, AltaVista has a new way of serving up page descriptions. Its will now try to form an abstract by looking for sentences on the page that contain your original search term, rather than using the first text on the page. This is similar to how Google has always operated.
However, if a meta description tag is used, then AltaVista will use that for the first part of that description and combine it with a dynamic abstract formed from content on the page itself. The last article listed is for Search Engine Watch members, which goes into depth about how the descriptions are created, in different situations.
AltaVista Gets a Facelift, Again
SearchDay, Feb. 21, 2002
AltaVista has a new streamlined look, with a slimmed-down search box and a tabbed interface providing direct access to the major portions of the search engine.
AltaVista Offers "Shortcuts" to the Invisible Web
SearchDay, February 11, 2002
AltaVista is making it easier for searchers to delve into reaches of the invisible web, providing "shortcuts" that point to high-quality deep web resources that other search engines typically can't see.
AltaVista Moves from Default OR to Default AND
ResearchBuzz, Feb. 13, 2002
AltaVista Defaults to AND
Search Engine Showdown, Feb. 14, 2002
AltaVista Real Searches
AltaVista Shuttering Free E-Mail
Boston.internet.com, Feb. 19, 2002
AltaVista Descriptions Now Have Dynamic Abstracts; Paid Inclusion More Expensive
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 19, 2002
Long rundown on the changes to page descriptions at AltaVista, available to Search Engine Watch members.