following Cherryl's question here [webmasterworld.com], I had a long chat with the people at Alta Vista Australia/NZ and I may have a few answers which will relate not only to Alta Vista Australia/NZ but also to the other Country Specific AVs.
It seems that we have been correct in our summation that all the local databases are being amalgamated into the .com database. As it stands now all information and submissions end up in a central database. The central database and Country indexes are run out of California with the management and administration for all Country specific engines coming out of the UK. Each country generates their own index based on local domain and local content, with preference given to local domains in the SERPs.
So even though all submissions now go through the US, theoretically any local content will picked up in each re-index which is done every 28 days.
Preference is given towards local domains at the country level whilst sites and pages containing country specific information from other domains are also picked up in the index. However, pages from non-country domains will appear lower in the SERPs due to the bias towards local domains.
As to what non-local domain pages/sites are included, that depends on the amount of local content. As an example, lets imagine you have a .com site about Widgets.
1. If the site as a whole is either totally or predominantly about Australian Widgets, then the whole site would be picked up.
2. If the site is about Widgets in general with a section on Australian Widgets, then that section would be picked up.
3. If you only have one page about Australian Widgets, then that page would be picked up.
I am using Australia as the example here but this would apply to all Country AV Engines. I am also assuming that the higher the proportion of content you have relating to that country, the more chance you have of getting picked up.
Of course, nothing is foolproof when it comes to computers, so if you find your site does not appear in the local country index, you can email them to check whether it is in the index or not. Contact should be made through the feedback form or email addresses found in the "Contact Us" section on the applicable Country AV. These emails are audited every day in the US and are either dealt with directly or forwarded to the applicable Country Engine for more detailed attention.
As to popularity, both AV Australia and New Zealand are doing very well at the moment in the local markets.
Australia AV was the #3 site in April 2001 as ranked by Hitwise, and now it can be anywhere in the top ten sites depending on current events in Australia. Media Metrix rated AV Australia the #1 SE in May 2001.
AV NZ is currently ranked #3 site overall in NZ and they were the #1 SE in July 2001 as ranked by Hitwise.
"The best indication of the top performance of AV Australia/NZ is 'happy consumers'" and advertisers achieving return on their investments. If AV was not performing well, people wouldn't be coming back."
Featured sites are in the pipeline for Australia/New Zealand and should be visible within a couple of weeks. There will be two positions available per SERP and will be displayed above the search results. These will be on a "first come best dressed" basis, will be tightly linked to the search phrases, and must be approved through the AV Quality Assurance procedures to maintain quality of results. Rate Card costs will be around AUS$80CPM, NZ$120CPM!
Express inclusion (Pay for Play) is around the corner for Australia/New Zealand and will be based on the current American model. As yet there has been no decision as to the partner so we are waiting for an announcement.
When the discussion ventured around to the recent demise of certain SEDs in the industry, there was a very adamant reply of "Alta Vista is here to stay!"
Hope this helps
(edited by: Woz at 8:41 am (gmt) on Aug. 23, 2001)