June 2000 Search Engine Briefs

From The Search Engine Report
June 2, 2000

Snap Promotes Sites

Snap has become the latest directory to say goodbye to the alphabet and reorder sites based on popularity. When you enter a particular category, you'll find sites are now ordered in terms of how popular they are. Snap determines this by using its GlobalBrain technology, which measures clickthrough. Snap measures what sites users click on when they search, and sites with high clickthrough get a ranking boost. Clickthrough data has also been used to help rank the results presented after a keyword search at Snap for some time.

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Web Shaped Like A Bow Tie

A new study has found that most pages across the web are linked to each other through a "bow tie" structure. The "knot" at the center of the tie contains pages that are highly linked to, while sides of the bow contain pages that either point "in" toward the knot or which the knot itself points "out" to. The study was conducted by AltaVista, IBM Research and Compaq Corporate Research Laboratories. I plan to take a longer look at this in the next issue. Meanwhile, more information can be found via the links below.

Graph structure in the web
WWW9, May 15, 2000

Winner of the "Best Paper Award" at the recent WWW9 conference, this highly-technical presentation covers what the joint study found.

Picturing the Web
About Web Search Guide, May 16, 2000

Nice overview of the study, in non-technical terms.


Moreover: News Lover's Delight

I love news, and Moreover is one of the most impressive news products I've come across in some time. It gathers headlines from over 1500 sources, then groups them into nearly 300 newsfeeds. It's one stop shopping for virtually any area of interest. Use the drop down boxes on the left side of the screen to select a newsfeed you are interested in. Then, when the headlines appear, enter your email address and chose whether to receive those headlines each day or weekly. A much needed search capability was also added recently -- use the search box on the upper-left hand side of the screen. Webmasters, you can also create custom newsfeeds in a wide-variety of formats for your own site. It's great content, free for the taking.



Reunion Search Engine Available

You can discover old high school friends through a site called Classmates.com. You have to provide some basic information, and then you are able to browse listings for high schools in the United States and Canada. I was amazed to see how many people I knew -- if only more had added bios of where they are now! In addition to viewing your graduation year, you can also browse other years to find underclassmen you may have known. The company says over 6 million people have registered. Active and retired military personnel will also find an additional section for them, after they've enrolled with their high school data.



WebBrain's Visual Directory

There have been various attempts to allow you to search graphically or display relationships between search terms visually, none of which I've ever found particularly useful. WebBrain is another approach at the matter that has just launched, and it seems to succeed better at it. At least, I had fun playing with it. When you come to the site, your browser window will split into two parts. At the top are category listings, such as News, Recreation and Sports. Select a link, and a range of subcategories will fly out of the link. Then, rather than "drilling down" through categories, you really do fly through the relationships. Unfortunately, it's not always immediately intuitive why the various subcategories arrange themselves in the way that they do. However, I do like that you can see a lot more information at once, since categories are displayed in a horizontal format. Also, when you select a category, links are displayed in the bottom window. Information comes out of the Open Directory's listings, and it looks as if you must have a Java-capable browser to use the site.



The company behind WebBrain also makes informational navigation tools for your desktop and web sites.

Need A WebBrain to Net Search
Wired, May 26, 2000


WebTop Offers Search Agent

Technology used to power EuroFerrert, a long-time European-based service, has been employed in the still relatively new WebTop service. In addition to allowing web searches, the site also offers the WebCheck tool (formerly called k-check), which is an Alexa-like search and discovery tool. When using the web service, information from across the web, from news sources (in partnership with Moreover), company information and WAP-related content may be shown. I hope to take a longer look at the service and the WebCheck tool in the near future. In the meantime, consider trying out both.

You may recall hearing WebTop described as the Dialog-owned search service, when it launched last December. EuroFerret was run by UK-based search technology firm Muscat. In 1999, Muscat was acquired by Dialog, known to many informational professionals for its proprietary research databases. Last month, Dialog was acquired by the Thomson Corporation. Thomas has retained key products such as the Dialog search service and the Dialog brand name, while the Dialog corporation itself and other products such as WebTop were spun off into a new company, called Bright Station. So the connection with Dialog the company remains, though the connection with the Dialog search service does not, aside from some distribution and other agreements. As for EuroFerret itself, it has been replaced by WebTop.



Web Wombat Expands Listings

Australian-based Web Wombat announced in May that its global search engine (first URL) now has an index over 100 million web pages, and the company says it plans to grow even larger. More intriguing are the specialty search engines it offers, such as for Cricket, Indian Cooking and Pokimon. Web Wombat also offers a search engine focused on Australia and New Zealand (second URL).

Web Wombat


Meta Search Site Attracts Buzz

Meta search engines are a dime a dozen these days -- every week, I hear about two or three new ones, none of which I find to be compelling. Ixquick is an exception. The meta search site has been getting quite a buzz in various places across the web, especially among the librarian and researcher crowds. The major search engines are well represented for your web page searches, plus news, MP3 and picture search options are offered. Results are ranked by "star" rating. If a page is listed at only one search engine, it gets one star. If it appears at two search engines, then it gets two stars, and so on. Pages with the most stars come first, with the assumption being that if the same page appears at several search engines, then it is probably better than pages that appear at only one service. Ixquick also offers a search interface in several major European languages.



Chat Search Engine Available

Looking for live chat about a particular topic? eNow aims to get you into the right forum. The service currently scans live discussions on about 1,000 Internet Relay Chat channels. When you visit eNow, a "Chat Scanner" application will load in a new window, assuming your browser has Flash installed. Enter your search terms into the "find Talk About" box in the lower left-hand side of the screen. Then, the scanner will check for any chat areas where those words are being discussed. You may find more than one channel, so use the channel buttons in the top left of the screen to move through those that are found. The program seemed to miss more than it hit for me, but perhaps you'll have more luck.


You Talkin' to Me?
Time, April 17, 2000

Longer review of the service.