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I'm not very familiar with the international engines. But I was able to get some good info from NFCC about AV UK.
"I only "know".co.uk, algo is completely different. No clustering, title is *all* if the keywords are not in the title forget it. Much more straight forward than AV.com in some way's, although the lack of clustering can be a problem if someone nails the algo. In addition "AltaVista.co.uk accepts only URLs from the domains: uk, gb, ie, im, gg, je, .com, .net and .org"
Previously banned domains at .com once ranked well at .co.uk, they seem to have gone now.
>Are they theme-friendly like the big one or should I just focus on creating good pages
The on page criteria takes precedence, *at the moment*."
"It is however possible for you to control how your page is indexed by using META tags to specify both additional keywords to index, and a short description. Let's suppose your page contains:
<META name="description" content="We specialise in grooming pink poodles.">
<META name="keywords" content="pet grooming, Palo Alto, dog">
AltaVista will then do two things:
It will index both fields as words, so a search on either poodles or dog will match. It will return the description with the URL."
This is nothing like AV US who is saying meta tags don't matter very much!