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WIll Alta Vista Make a Come Back?

I was wonderingif anyone thought that AV might return to prominence

3:19 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering what the overall opinion of Alta Vista's chances of making a comeback? They were once the big boy on the block, and now you hardly hear about them.
3:53 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Its a good question. They have made some efforts recently with a new look, "fresh" indexing and much improved SERPS, in the unpaid listings, but because of their insistence in promoting mainly sponsored ads all over the top of the page including this "Prisma" thing which is more of the same ... I sincerely doubt it. I just checked one of my keywords and they had three paid listing above the unpaid listings with 6 more down the right hand side. Its too much!

Surfers may as well just go to Overture if they want a list of ads. Alta Vista can't be everything to everyone, which (it appears) they are trying to do. They need to make a decision to be either a first rate search engine or a PPC engine.

Their pages are far too busy. Lazy people like myself who don't like having to scroll to find unpaid search results will likely just stick with Google. Google has them beat hands down in that regard. Clean up the pages ... make it easy to find what you are looking for without a lot of distracting things messing up the page and then maybe they stand a chance, who knows?

2:55 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>Their pages are far too busy<< AMEN!

Their current design is simply awful. The typeface is heavy, chucky and the bolding lacks the design elegance of the others.

The actual AV story is unknown for the most part, I certainly don't have the secrets, but it's struggle has been hard to watch (whatever was Raging Bull anyway?).

Just checked my logs for the entire 2002, AV referrals do not show up so must have had less that 1%. Checking backlinks to me there are really, really dusty.

Given that these are the days when the unimaginable happens, most recently certainly Yinktomi, for AV to last out the year, something extraordinary would have to happen.

Thinking about this today and noodling around there for a while today does not give me cause to be optimistic. It's actually a little bit creepy. All dressed up with "fresh" tags but nowhere to go?

Currently available development talent would not go near them; to make it past the very high hurdles, AV needs a single or group of zealots with very deep pockets combined at least with a clear vision of their position in the future for AV to have shot.

Is that possible? Sure, this is the Wild Wild West. But for AV to compete in the future, even given these things which are are possible and could happen, it seems to me the grappling for the public's attention puts AV in the balcony at best.

I guess this is my ode to them. I won't be spending more time on AV since I bumbled into this post.

4:35 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Search engines - The more the merrier, IMHO. One of my sites (along with thousands of others) got banned from AV a few years ago, apparently due to a technical glitch, and I was very thankful that there were other search engines to get us through the hard times. If I somehow blunder into a Google penalty tomorrow, I want a lot more backup.

Yeah, AV's pages are still "busy" and the advertising mindset is still there, but it's a whole lot better than last year. I think it's much, much better. I doubt that they can afford to drop all the advertising links right now.

I sure can't complain about stale results in AV any more! - All my pages seem to get refreshed every other day. What seems to be missing is an advertising budget; Has anyone seen any kind of ad for the "New! - Lite!" AltaVista?

Even though they whacked my site, it did come back eventually, and I still have fond memories of AV as "my" first search engine. I hope they make it.


12:58 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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they *could* make a comeback ... basically all they need to do is promote themselves properly to webmasters and the public. get people interested in using them and get webmasters interested in good ranking. do what google does well - hype.
1:21 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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... Staying silent ...

For the people who don't know me. I follow AV like a hawk as I know most of the techs. I think everyone knows my opinion ... just a little delayed that's all/


Given up predicting

3:06 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My traffic from AV is increasing. In the areas I search they have improved greatly. I think they have made continuing improvements to the news search too.

I think their demographic is still with older searchers but they are still hanging in there.

Buyers? That would be interesting so long as the buyer did not ruin it.

4:09 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>One of my sites (along with thousands of others) got banned >from AV a few years ago, apparently due to a technical glitch,

Same thing happenned to me, still haven't got any pages back in the index despite a phone call to the Sydney office when it happened and resubmitting regularly via basic submit (which I rather liked - contrary to most others on the WebmasterWorld forums), and like Jim, I too have fond memories of AV as my "first" SE.

They've been through a lot over the years and still managed to hold it together ... GO AV GO!

<start rant> But ... I'm strongly averse to PFI.

I'm the one providing the content people go to the SE to look for ... if you must get some money out of me, then please provide a model which suits me (not these every 48 hours jobs) and I might consider it where appropriate ... heck ... I must've been the only person who actually PAID to register our NS browser (back when you had the option to!), so I'm not averse to giving you poor ole USA's the exchange funds you so desperately need! ;-)

It appears from this and other forums that AV needs to get out there, index and include the indexing in results; after all ... what is the webmaster's mantra? " ... content is king ... content is king ... content is king ... content is .."

But I want to see some results before I even consider any exchange of $ for additional marketing oportunities.

So hustle your butts gals and guys @ AV ... the clock is ticking! <end rant>


4:34 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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AV is still getting a little too much bad press for my liking, even after their long awaited look and feel upgrade.

They've been accused of giving unwarranted relevance to their PFI listings over crawled content, which kinda puts a bad taste in my mouth with regards to their SERP's.

I get the feeling that relevance will always be written off as soon as anyone up there at CMGI moans about shrinking revenues.

But strangely enough, I keep checking back and perform searches when i want a break from Google. I think they still have a good following and hopefully they wont use that fact solely to turn AV into a cash cow. Try rewarding the loyalty by giving Google a run for its money.

4:38 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I was thinking AV's main "free" index made great strides forward in the past 12 months.

And then we got the spin from AV marketers about how good and "clean" the new AV rebranding would be we all got a little bit more excited.

However the reality fell way below the expectations. This was no "sea change" but merely a modification on an old theme. It seemed an idea developed by a commitee of elderly cronies. They still need a kick up the posterior and some innovative vision.

4:51 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I dunno... My AV SERPs look pretty clean. And they're 50% "fresher" than Google, too - The AV "freshbot" is visiting several times a day here.

Like I said, the more the merrier. Good luck to AV.


5:16 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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jd yes i agree to some extent. But I was probably expecting too much from the rebranding hence my view is more disappointment than anything else.

Agreed the SERPs range from acceptable to very good, freshing is great: the main problem is a continuing clutter problem mainly caused by the crud at the bottom (before the next page buttons), 2 banners for every SERP, and their directory categories on the front page, even though they take little time to downlaod and can easily be ignored gives a perception of being very spammy with some of those category titles.

The problem is that on first looks to a new user, it looks more of a shopping/commercial search than a Web search. Once you do a search, the actual sERPs are quite useful going to informative and relevant sites, but those banner ads do slow down loading time on my dial up laptop.

7:36 am on Jan 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I would love to see them make a come back. Right now I think there are far to many eggs in the one basket with reguards to Google. Google has got it's self into a position where it truely can carve a path for the web. I cant see it being a good day when one company has so much authority.

But having said that AV really need to try and shake off their previous bad press and promote their self as the "new" AV. Right now Google still serves the best results, with Fast not that far behind, but I think there is still room for AV if they get their marketing streightened out and move forward.

6:08 am on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)


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I'd love to see em' come back, but I just don't think it is going to happen. If MSN buys em' then there could be hope.

Despite the recent redesign, AV has got to have one of the absolute worst search results pages. (Not commenting on relevancy - but all the clutter on the page) It's all ads, and links to everything on earth.

Ya gotta scroll forever to find the numbers at the bottom to get to the next page of results. Being one of the pioneers of web search, you'd think AV could do alot better. There is simply no reason to use that engine and plenty of reasons not to.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for a comeback, but not holding my breath.

6:12 am on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think AV is great, a worthy competitor to Google in most respects of search quality. The interface is much cleaner, maybe with a little more work would make it perfect.

I would love to see them make a comeback on their own two feet, but failing that I would like to see one of the bigger players purchase their results instead of Google's.

It appears Y! is going towards Ink. So maybe MSN taking on AV results would be good in the eyes of MS as I am sure they won't want to share Inktomi with Y! long term.

Alternatively AOL using AV would also be more acceptable. Hard to see that happening anytime soon :(

Anything that gets some of the eggs out of the Google basket would be good :)

Google treats me good, but I don't like having 80% of the SE power controlled by a bunch of geeks who operate on a philosophical playing field.

7:11 am on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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They need to get a handle on dynamic content before they can even claim to be a contender
7:29 am on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The actual SERPS are not too bad (not as good as Google's but better than the past). However, I think that Liane called it right at the beginning of the thread... far too much PPC rubbish on the page.

Even if the SERPS were as good as Google's, why would people select a screen full of adverts over a cleaner interface? They wouldn't. I sincerely hope AV will get the message eventually, but I suspect they won't.

7:04 pm on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It's too late. AltaVista lost.

A comeback is out of the question. Going "clean" now won't save them. They already tried that with Raging Search, and their new AV interface is cleaner than it used to be. Raging Search flopped because it was yet another flip-flop in an ever-changing message. Consumers can only process so much information.

Trying to out-Google Google after Google has Googled you will get you nowhwere.

It simply doesn't matter. AltaVista is yesterday's search engine.

I strongly disagree with the contention that "hype" is what made Google win, or that AV can reclaim past glories by turning on the hype jets now. If you're a member of the press you will know that this is just what AV *has* been doing - with nothing to back up the hype, with no genuine consumer interest, and with fewer and fewer reporters showing sympathy with a company that has lied to them in the past and which does not seem particularly serious about its own product.

Hype is not the answer. AV has failed because it hyped itself when it had nothing to hype. It failed to maintain its leadership position, failed to differentiate itself when it mattered.

Fundamentals, not a lack of hype, are why AV failed. Saying one thing, then doing another, is not my idea of marketing.

New product features are not the fundamentals I'm speaking of. I'm talking about a clear identity, a clear difference, a clear ongoing relationship with an identifiable market. AV has none of these, and neither features nor hype will create them out of thin air. Consistency was needed. AV failed to deliver.

Game over.

7:33 pm on Jan 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Sadly, I think once Google goes public it might be forced to be more like AV. Just looking at a typical google page you have to wonder how they make it so I doubt they can stay as ad free. Then AV will get their window of opportunity.

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