AltaVista Improves Results, Positions Partners

AltaVista Improves Results, Positions Partners

From The Search Engine Report
April 30, 1998

AltaVista appears to have made a change that improves single-word searches on the service. Look for something like "california" on the main, US-based site, and you'll see that the top results tend to be dominated by the home pages of web sites, rather than inside pages. The sites listed also tend to be more relevant, or at least more important, than what single word searches produced in the past.

For example, top picks for "california" include the California State University, Sacramento, the California Department of Transportation, the California Academy of Sciences and my favorite, the California Beer Page: microbrewers throughout the state.

AltaVista says they've done nothing to their search algorithm, but this is extremely unlikely. It's rare for web site home pages to rank more relevantly than pages inside web sites. Inside pages tend to have more relevant text for search engines to index, and thus they usually dominate the results. Additionally, there are often a number of crafted entry pages, designed to do well for popular single word searches, mixed among results.

In fact, simply perform the same search on both the US service and compare it to the Australian mirror site, and you can see the dramatic difference. The many extended URLs on the Australian service will clearly be noticeable.

Both the Canadian and Latin American service also seem to have a new retrieval mechanism in place. They yield different results than the US service, but the domination of root URL exists.

Meanwhile, design changes on the main US site seem to happen every week, as the site continues shifting from away from its search-only roots in its quest to become a portal player.

A new "health" tab takes visitors to the Intelihealth site, which features articles and information on health issues. A similar "Get Wild" tabs takes visitors to the Wild Wild Web television show's web site. AltaVista has a partnership with the Internet program, and its site features information about entertainment on the web. Links from the home page also lead to, a travel service that signed a five-year, $15 million partnership agreement with AltaVista in early April.