Search Engine Analysis: Alta Vista

In knowledge based economies the role of information is increasing. The information technology revolution has given rise to several tools and techniques to seek relevant information from the information highway that supports text, audio, and video.Search engines; such as Alta Vista, Yahoo and MSN are software packages that allow the users to retrieve information efficiently. Each of these search engines use variety of search methodologies depending on users choice.

This report will discuss Alta Vista features and methodology.Alta Vista first was founded by Compaq and later bought over by CMGI in 1999. Long before Google; Alta Vista was the fastest search engine. The Ask Jeeves search technology allowed the users to ask questions instead of words. It was this technology that made Alta Vista different from other search engines.

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Alta Vista index search technique is based on a deep spider which index all of the pages within a website providing the path to the page. When a user submits its URL to Alta Vista, its spider visits all the pages within the website bringing the relevant query. However one exception is the dynamic pages that are created with cgi. Thus we can say that Alta Vista indexes all the html pages including text statements, titles, urls, directory names, image maps and Meta tags, but ignores html comments. Alta Vista utilizes Meta keywords tag and Meta description; which increases the relevancy of the page. Such technique provides users with an efficient way of finding information on the web.

In order to keep itself popular among users, Alta Vista has launched Prisma technique, where users are offered words, phrases, names and concepts related to the query ( a technique also used by Yahoo and Google now). It allows the system to suggest parallel queries that a user is looking for.  Normally the Prisma term offers about twelve closely related terms displayed below the search (in Google its on the side bar); clicking one of which gives rise to a new search; and the new search again creates more suggestive words.Alta Vista has changed its submission policymaking it stricter compared to other search engines. Now Alta Visa search result displays a computer generated series of alphanumerical symbols; which is re-typed manually. This technique has made it impossible for software to submit sites to Alta Vista.

While LookSmart directory demands US$199 for the submission; Alta Vista has allowed bypassing this submission fee.Content is the main area that users normally see or read. Like all other search engine, Alta Vista also lacks images on its main page.  It is based on this content that many sites fail to achieve ranking, but Alta Vista does not use only this method to rank a websites. Instead it gives importance to keywords rather than just Meta tags. Alta Vista offers some unique services compared to other search engines.

For example, it offers free translation service to users, which makes it popular among users. Thus we can conclude that Alta Vista has consistently provided quality index and better search techniques compared to its competitors. It is for this reason that Alta Vista is the 10th most popular web search engine. In 2003 it had about 9.5 millions online visitors.Reference:Tracey Stanley , Alta Vista Vs Lycos.

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