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Altavista Launches New Look
Online Now

 9:39 pm on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

As mentioned earlier [webmasterworld.com], Altavista was suppose to launch it's new look next week.

It's here and online now.




 5:48 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Some common searches that show around 40K results on Google are showing less than 1K on AV. In the middle of an update maybe?

Nice start, but they gotta do better than that, come up with a reason to use the paid inclusion or get rid of it. Maybe dump Overture and rotate paid inclusion results through the Overture spots?

We try harder cause we're number 2, or 3, or 4 or whatever isn't going to work in this case, but how nice it would be to see them come back. It's gonna take a massive marketing budget or else a real reason to regain all the eyeballs they lost.


 6:41 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Nice improvements the only problem is Joe public dumped AV a long time ago, they will need to do some pretty heavy marketing to get back to the good old days pre google.


 7:51 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I say AV is going to have to do a lot better than this poor performance to get Joe Public back. AV's biggest mistake was not being competitive when they should have and losing most of their users.


 8:59 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think AV has over looked one massive issue and this is why people left them in the first place. About 2 years ago before I became interested in web development I was Joe public. I used to use AltaVista all the time for my searches until I found Google. One thing a search engine has to keep in mind, most page views are on the results pages. No matter how much clutter you put on your homepage so long as the search box is clearly visible you can type your search and press "enter" but the results pages are where it all counts. On Google you get to the bottom of your results and you have the gooooooogle logo with the page numbers. But with AV you have this.....

Enhance your listings: add logos, icons, taglines & links to your AltaVista search results.

Extend your Search: About[keyword]
Ask Jeeves about [keyword]?
Search for [keyword] on eBay.co.uk
Search Searchy.co.uk for [keyword]

Try These Resources About
Jobs: Find Jobs Search for 1000's of jobs
Motoring: Cars for sale New & Used Cars Car Insurance
Shopping: Best Deals on PC's Compare prices Best mobile deals
Travel: Travel deals Hotel finder Discount car rental.

Then you see the next results link.

If AV where to simply re-order these items to have the next results link appear right below the results this would probably be the biggest improvement they could make.


 9:02 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Looks better than before but if there's one thing I don't like, it's meta HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh" headers. It's so irritating. I open many pages at the same time and then go offline to read them. I use a caching proxy that stores all pages I access. AltaVista's Refresh with a different URL will "break" my offline experience.

I also prefer Google's straight links. Link tracking and redirecting is not what I want.

And finally, they'll have to crawl A LOT more pages and they don't catch typos. With typos, two results. Without typo, 2,220 results. In Google, I'd get more results and a "Did you mean: "...correct spelling".

I do like the "refine" options and the interface is cleaner. But they limit the the query by default to "Germany" and "German, English". Guess I'd have to change my AltaVista settings.

Talking about settings: They store ALL your queries in a cookie QHist that expires in 2013! How is that for privacy?


 10:19 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

agree ... looks better than before ... could be a strong contender against fast or inktomi!


 10:42 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I did a browser/hobby related search. Approx. 48 out of 50 entries in the SERPS are spam. Worst I have ever seen.


 10:46 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I liked the Prisma thing since it started earlier this year. Fast does the same with their topics, Exalead at AOL France has arguably the best on the fly generation of related topics.

I can't say I'm finding the algo to be bad. On the contrary, it's up there with the other majors.

Perhaps one of the reasons why AV more often than Google or Fast returns unsatisfactory results is because their db is apparently very limited at this point.
Just tried a query looking for a script, where Google and Fast return hundreds of results: AV gives zero.
All other queries have far less results than Ink, Fast, Google.


 10:48 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

<yawn> I'd say they're still heavy on the ads and 'sponsored listings'. Lots of ads and little substance </yawn>


 10:56 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

What's Altavista?*


[edited by: nutsandbolts at 10:57 am (utc) on Nov. 10, 2002]


 10:56 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

so far i like it. dont lie the ads i lower part of results screen.

whats that blue bar in the left corner? allows you open the sit in new window. nice touch :)

have to check referals, but they might be in update time.


 11:03 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

one cool thing with "prisma" - when you do a "host:site.com search you get some keywords that probably are "top traffic" makers for that domain. pretty cool SEO tool i would say.

checked WebmasterWorld and i see Marcia in results :)


 11:14 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

enhance your lsiting look cool on first look but can results in av looking like a cheap ffa links site.


 11:16 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Not to sure about the new algorithm

I do not like them giving so much importance to the DMOZ clones. On the first page of results, about five were directories that use the DMOZ database, that is the results are all equal. I would prefer to get the real dmoz.org listing on the first page and then put the clones at the bottom of the results page.


 11:35 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Tried a few searches. I agree with those who posted (spam ready), looks like it to me. (see worse in the past though)

They need to do some work on the "Prisma" thing though. (related terms) For example "infinity stereo" [altavista.com]. What do 'Tires' or 'Tan Leather Interior' have to do with that search?

and why only a link to Lycos and no other?

Overall, I think this is an improvment and at least headed in the right direction. Just need a little more work.

Must still be in 'beta' since they are displaying the server id used at the bottom. Thats my guess for this code...
>><div class=xs><span class=ltgy>gl57.sv</span></div>

Is this a live display of current searches or more of a grab bag from earlier?
http://www.altavista.com/web/real_searches [altavista.com]


 11:57 am on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yesterday got scootered throughout.

10 times the daily average of hits.


 12:11 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

New look, but the same old crappy HTML.

It's still not close to validating. And Opera is trapping JS errors on the home page:

name: TypeError
message: Value on left hand side of '.' is not convertible to Object: document.all


 12:14 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

The SERPs look good in my little niche. The top sites are not so dominated by the huge corporations, but those that are at the top are worthy contenders.

I agree with the others, the single biggest improvement would be to get rid of all that garbage down at the bottom of the SERP's. That is the biggest annoyance and the most easily solved problem.

I always thought the Prisma was the best in it's class but the AV DB not up to the task.

>>For example "infinity stereo". What do 'Tires' or 'Tan Leather Interior' have to do with that search?

I think some car has/had a stereo marketed under that name, if my memory serves me right. That might explain the related terms.

What will be interesting will be to see if AV starts updating regularly by respidering old listings at least monthly AND expanding the size of the database. I think consistant and regular updates and expansion are crucial to success.


 12:38 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have been scootered, but I am getting contact incomplete urls, i.e. constant 404s from *.sv.av.com like:


which are incomplete. I can show the error logs to someone if they sticky me. There are lots of these.

Any ideas what it is doing?


 1:16 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Brad, I agree that the Infinity 'auto' has something to do with it. But, what confused me was the fact the unquoted search returned more accurate results for Infinity sterio. Didn't make sense... Then I looked at result 9,10 and found the relation for "Jeep Grand Cherokee" and that explained to me why their 'Prisma' was a little off. The Prisma is way too tied to what is in the search results instead of actual related 'search_ed' terms.

... a little number crunching could reveal some interesting stuff. Looks like its still just as easy to get in there...


 1:20 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Would love to check it out but everytime I do a search it crashes my system. Anyone else?


 1:27 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

What makes a search engine great?


1) Relevancy of the its search results - minimum spam, no ads (leader - Google)

2) Freshness of its entire database - without such a thing as express inclusion (leaders - Google, FAST)

3) Friendly user interface - search box, results, minimum/no ads/affiliates, that's it! (leaders - Google, AllTheWeb, Gigablast)

4) Size of its database (leaders - Google, FAST)

With its new user interface and updated algorithm and database AV is stepping in the right direction. Yet, it is still behind the other major search engines in each of the four points above. These changes are not enough to affect the search habits of the average Joe.


 2:02 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)


I agree Prisma is very tied to what is on the pages of the first X results. That can lead to some strange stuff. I find that I do not use suggested search refinements like Prisma but maybe others like them.


Good points. Freshness and size won't happen overnight. With billions of pages to be spidered it will take many months and some heavy server load. But it has to be done.

troels nybo nielsen

 2:03 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

> "AltaVista refreshes 50% of the results daily"?

> what does that exactly mean?

I'd like to know that too. I just searched one of my main keywords. I was #1 and 2 but with two pages that do not exist any more. None of my existing pages are there.

But I've been scootered recently, so perhaps?


 2:25 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Very bad. On some of the very target word for 10 results you got :
- 1 Graphic banner ad (with a reload of a new one each 3 min.)
- 5 Sponsored Matches with text link a even one with input field and drop box
- 6 Sponsored Matches box la Google
- 3 Extend search Ad
- 24 Try theses Resources Ad

Wow! That give us 25% of content and 75% Advertising


 2:39 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

75% ads, 25 content

wait guys, maybe this is just "pre-release" or smart marketing. since they have new look i am sure every major forum/newsletter will link to AV showing these changes so their traffic is up 100 times i am sure :) this wil slow down within a week i am sure. now at this time when traffic is up they can makesomething from this traffic and then tell that "it was jsut test phase" alte :) would you not do the same if you got some boost from some source. i would put some ads on my site.


 2:50 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I see your point JonB, but on the other side of the coin, not too many of those curious new visitors are likely to return with that number of ads on display.

For me, AV still can't take their eyes sufficiently away from the very short term. They need to get rid of a lot of the clutter (ads) and still do some more work on their algo and on freshness (older pages seem to rank much better than newer ones).


 2:52 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I used to submit manually each targeted pages in order to get them in the index.
I submitted only 5 pages of a new site yesturday. It got it about 70 % crawled overnight. A lot of pages where crawled many times and the activity was quite agressive. Almost like a rogue spider...

None of them is already in the index this morning. Could AV prepare us a little surprise?

Any similar experiences of new sites not included yet?


 4:03 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

It would make sense for them to get some feedback. A lot of stuff like the ads could change on Tuesday. Macgaru, you might have a good point, they may update the DB Tuesday too.

At least I hope that is true.


 4:06 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)


Altavista SERPs can only improve - can't get worse!


 5:24 pm on Nov 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

Freshness and size won't happen overnight. With billions of pages to be spidered it will take many months and some heavy server load. But it has to be done.

Brad, AV's competition crawl the entire web at least once a month. If they wish to become a top choice SE again they will have to revisit their sites more often. I see many more Googlebots and FAST crawlers in my log files than I see Scooters.

I submitted only 5 pages of a new site yesturday. It got it about 70 % crawled overnight....Any similar experiences of new sites not included yet?

Macguru, I didn't even submit my new site; I only added a link to it from another site. It is a small site but I was surprised to see that Scooter had covered it already.

This 94 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 94 ( 1 [2] 3 4 > >
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