The Search Engine Report, 12/22/96, Number 2

Search Engine Watch

12/22/96 - Number 2

The Search Engine Report is the email companion to "A Webmaster's Guide to Search Engines," It keeps you informed changes to the site and general search engine news useful to web developers. This month's report:


Sadly, my two month trip to the South Pacific has ended. But that's good news to those who use A Webmaster's Guide to Search Engines. Changes have been made throughout the site. If you haven't been back since mid-September, pay a visit and catch up on what's new. A summary of major changes and developments is listed below. Links mentioned can be found at My return also means that the Search Engine Report will begin going out on a more frequent basis.

Search Engine News And then there was one

C|Net and Alta Vista joined forces on Sept 19, making Alta Vista the default choice for the service. How things have changed! At first, rotated the default among all the major engines. Next, the default choice was rotated among three favored engines, Alta Vista, Magellan and Webcrawler. Now, only Alta Vista gets the upper hand.

Screwy Links

A report came in from someone who discovered that Excite suddenly listed one of his links with a .comm and another .comi-0. Both links no longer worked. In the past, there have also been reports of sites disappearing or of links becoming corrupt. Check your links often. If there is a problem, resubmit. Fortunately, the Excite index is refreshed weekly. Problems that appear usually don't last long.

Another report came in from someone who has done all the right things but is still unable to get parts of his site listed in Lycos, after six months of trying. In addition, pages with very specific, unique words on them did not turn up more relevant than other pages. He has also been unable to get any help from Lycos administrators. Of course, they probably get flooded by requests, so that's not surprising. It just goes to show that despite the technical explanations of relevancy and indexing, it's still a lot of black magic as to how some search engines sort though the millions of listings.

Excite consumes WebCrawler

Excite gobbled up its second search engine this year. WebCrawler was acquired in November, only a few months after Excite purchased the Magellan search engine and directory. Combined, Excite says that all its services give it more reach than Yahoo, top ranked by PC Meter. However, Magellan has continued running as a separate service, and WebCrawler is supposed to do the same. Links to news articles are on the resources page.

InfoSeek has Ultra facelift

InfoSeek has undergone major changes. The old "Infoseek Guide" index only had about 1 to 2 million URLs cataloged. The new "Ultrasmart/Ultraseek" index has 50 million URLs cataloged. Ultrasmart is the default search option. It lists both search engine results and matches in Infoseek's catalog of reviewed sites, InfoSeek Select. An Ultraseek search provides the exact same results but without the addition information. The new underlying search engine technology also allows enhanced searches and a host of other features that you can read about at the InfoSeek web site.

Meanwhile, InfoSeek Select is no longer taking submissions. The 500+ requests per day for review were apparently too much for reviewers to handle. No surprise there. Plans are to review all sites in the database, eventually.

NetGuide Live joins the majors

NetGuide Live became the newest search engine to join the major leagues since HotBot's May 1996 launch. Backed by CMP Media, NetGuide Live uses Lycos spidering technology to catalog the web. Why care about this new engine? It's one of the default choices on the Microsoft Explorer search page. Novice web surfers will be using it right along side the established engines like Alta Vista. Unfortunately, there's no way to prompt it to visit you! Furthermore, the default search choice is of reviewed sites.

Open Text drops preferred listings-maybe

Open Text says on its web site that the preferred listing service has ended. Open Text was the only engine that allowed you to "buy" particular keywords, in order to appear at the top of listings. However, C|Net reported that the company is still offering the service and plans a relaunch it. An article link is on the resources page.

Gains and Losses PC Magazine has the latest, comprehensive review of search engines out. Macworld also has a current review. Links are on the resources page. The reviews, along with other developments, have produced changes on the strategic alliances chart. Here's who's up and down.

Key: (+) overall gain, (˜) status quo, (-) overall loss.

Key: (+) overall gain, (˜) status quo, (-) overall loss.

--Alta Vista (+): Becames the default engine for C|Net's service, plus was a PC Computing pick in September. Macworld's F grade probably won't hurt it.

--Excite (+): PC Meter currently rates it the third most popular search engine, and it just acquired the second-most popular index: WebCrawler. PC Magazine also made it one of its Editors Choice picks.

--HotBot (+): Now being listed on the Internet Explorer search page with the rest of the major players, and a PC Magazine Editors Choice.

-Yahoo(+): PC Meter rates it the top engine; PC Computing gave it an Editors Choice pick, and PC Magazine gave it a positive mention as runner up.

-Infoseek (+): Both PC Computing and Macworld have positive reviews for InfoSeek.

-Lycos (˜): Now listed as an alternate choice by, but no real big gains or losses.

-Magellan (-): Dropped as a default choice by

-Open Text (-): The only major search engine not in PC Meter's top ten for that category.

-WebCrawler (-): Soon to be dropped as the AOL default choice due to its acquisition by Excite.

Support the guide By voluntarily "subscribing" to the site, you can help ensure that it keeps going. It's only $7, and you can be listed on the "Subscriber Honor Roll." More information is on the support page. A credit card payment option may be coming soon.

Advertise in the guide A number of pages are also open for sponsorship. Rates and information can be found on the site's rate card.

Fun Tip WebCrawler is known for its ability to show you who is linking to your pages. However, HotBot also provides this service and has a much bigger index to search. Check it out by visiting HotBot. In the "search for" box, change the default from "all the words" to "links to this URL." Choose the number you want listed and type of description you'd like, and away you go!


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