Keeping Tabs On AltaVista

Keeping Tabs On AltaVista

From The Search Engine Report
Feb. 3, 1998

A series of tabs have been springing up above AltaVista's search box over the past month or so. These provide easy access to new services that AltaVista has been adding. There are currently four tabs: Translations, Browse By Subject, People Search and Business Search.

Browse By Subject is the newcomer, launched on January 20. This leads to a co-branded version of the LookSmart directory, called AltaVista Subject Search. Users can click on topics of interest and work their way through menus to find appropriate web sites.

LookSmart continues to grow as rival to Yahoo, in terms of being a directory of reviewed web sites. Editors examine submissions, then categorize them into one of over 16,000 subjects. There are currently over 250,000 sites listed, compared to Yahoo's 750,000.

Unlike Yahoo, browsing through LookSmart and its AltaVista-branded version does not bring up a page devoted to each topic. Instead, selecting a topic causes a submenu of topics to load. Eventually, a selection of web sites is displayed. A blue arrow at the end of each topic indicates there are more subtopics, while an image of a text document shows if the next click will bring up a page of results.

In comparison to Yahoo, you sometimes have to click once or twice more to arrive at an actual web site. For example, from the Yahoo home page, you could go to Computers & Internet > Hardware and find at least some actual web sites listed, as opposed to more subcategories.

In LookSmart, you have to go one more level in Computers & Internet > Hardware > Best of The Web before you reach actual sites. On the other hand, with the constant display of where you've come from, it's easy to move around into related areas.

The regular LookSmart service remains searchable, of course. Those entering through the home page can perform a search, with matches from LookSmart reviews listed first, then matches from AltaVista's listings.

One odd note. I found that sometimes if I had gone to the AltaVista branded version, there was no way to go directly to LookSmart. Entering would cause me to be redirected to I could sometimes get around this by dropping the www, entering just

AltaVista's other tabs lead to services launched in December. Translations brings up the stand-alone web page translation feature, while People Search and Business Search bring up these specialty search features offered in partnership with Switchboard.

AltaVista also added some new spotlight boxes below its search box on Feb. 3. These point out what's new with the service and other items relating to Digital and AltaVista.


AtlaVista Subject Search