I believe that a search at aol.com resolves to search.aol.com. Go to aol.com and search on shoes, and the results page is at [search.aol.com ]. Go to search.aol.com, search on shoes, and you get the same page. Same results. Same resolution.
Looking through my logs I see that aolsearch.aol.com brings in lots of referrers. These results are different than search.aol.com which does not bring in anything for referrers. This is coming from a dial up ISP outside of the states.
The aolsearch.aol.com returns line up pretty well with ODP, but the search.aol.com seems to present a wider array and not as targeted.
If my memory serves me, that is where AOL members go when they search at AOL.
If you compare aolsearch.com [aolsearch.aol.com] and search.aol.com [search.aol.com], you'll see that the latter has tabs at the top of the page for MyAOL, Mail, and Channels, among other things. The former does not.
This might signal that my memory IS serving. :) Members who are logged into AOL have no need of those things.
And if I wasn't so lazy, I'd close about 12 of these windows and log onto AOL to check. :)