June 19, 2000 7:35 AM PDT

Excite@Home broadens search capabilities

Excite@Home today unveiled a spruced-up search engine, dubbed Excite Precision Search, which uses new technology to improve the relevance of search results.

As previously reported, the company also said the product offers search results in a broad array of content types, including news articles, photos, audio and video files, and Web directory categories.

The move follows a similar effort by rival AltaVista to beef up its search technology. The CMGI-owned Web portal released Raging Search last month, a service aimed at improving the relevance of search results.

Both companies' efforts come as the search market is being roiled by renewed competition and consolidation. Web portals including Walt Disney's Go.com and Lycos are stepping back from hard-core search functions, while newcomers such as Google have joined the fray along with several start-ups aiming to carve a niche for indexing multimedia content on the Web.

Last week, Disney's Go.com sold a subsidiary, Ultraseek, for $344 million to search company Inktomi, which provides services to 80 Web companies, including the top four sites on the Internet, according to the company.

Lycos, meanwhile, recently said it would outsource some of its search functions to Fast Search, according to a report on Search Engine Watch, an Internet publication that covers developments in search technology.

"Excite is going the other way, re-committing resources in-house while others are outsourcing," said Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan. "That's why it's interesting. Excite hasn't really done that much with search since its merger with @Home."

According to the company, Precision Search will return more relevant results by scanning an index of 250 million Web pages and using new criteria to rate results. For example, the service evaluates text and link popularity while removing dead links and duplicate pages.

"We continue to innovate and provide our consumers with the best experience on the Web," Michele Turner, vice president of Excite@Home Search, said in a statement.

Excite's new service will also provide navigation tools to sift through the growing volume of media files on the Web. Sullivan said that feature has been available for some time, but Precision Search will make it easier for customers to find.

A new generation of search tools, including Kick.com, Gigabeat and Singingfish.com, is bubbling up to track the growing volume of MP3 music files on the Web.

Inktomi's director of business development for search, Troy Toman, said his company also offers multimedia search tools alongside traditional text search. But he said such distinctions are bound to blur.

"We don't feel media search is a unique and separate application," he said. "Where we see the evolution of the Web going, multimedia will be integral, but it won't be any more unique than searching for text. The goal is to make available all the content on the Web."

 

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