RealNames announced a partnership with Inktomi in January, which extends the alternative web address system's presence even further into the search arena.
RealNames already has existing partnerships with search services AltaVista and LookSmart. Now Inktomi will be able to offer its search partners the ability to have RealNames links integrated into its search results.
The service has also been made much more useful as a search tool, thanks to a new high-speed address resolver that reports whether a name actually exists in its registry.
You can see the difference this makes by doing a search at AltaVista. Look for "nike," and you'll see the RealNames link listed with this text:
The RealNames link takes you directly to Nike.
In contrast, search for "shoes," and the text reads,
shoes - List of near matches related to shoes provided by RealNames.
What's happening is that when someone searches at AltaVista, the query is simultaneously sent to RealNames. It checks to see if the query matches a name that has actually been registered and reports this status to AltaVista. It all happens so fast that users shouldn't notice a decrease in speed.
"We are capable of answering the question in less than one millisecond," said RealNames CEO Keith Teare. "It adds no overhead to AltaVista users."
When a RealName exists, anyone clicking on the link in AltaVista is taken directly to a web site. If it doesn't exist, then users would instead be taken to the RealNames search engine, where several names containing the terms would be displayed. This is where the new system is clever. By telling AltaVista the status of a name, the search service can then present appropriate text that helps its users decide whether to select the link.
To build brand awareness, RealNames has also begun using the RN superscript in the way TM is used to indicate trademarks, Teare said.
A surprising area of new traffic has been users of the Infoseek Express client, which is RealNames enabled. Teare said that 12.5 percent of its 1.6 million RealNames resolutions per day come from those running the client. But AltaVista generates the bulk of resolutions, responsible for 81 percent of the system's traffic.
RealNames also got good news on the legal front. A patent infringement suit filed by competitor Netword was tossed out on January 8. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in a summary judgment that Centraal's RealNames system did not infringe upon Netword's patent.
RealNames Expands Listings
The Search Engine Report, Sept. 2, 1998
More about the RealNames system.