AltaVista has revamped its UK search engine with a range of new features it hopes will win back the hundreds of thousands of users who have switched to other sites to conduct their online searches.
In an all out bid to regain its position as one of the internet's dominant search engines, it has cut back what it believes are some of the major drawbacks to internet searches: duplication and random pop-up ads.
Dumping these ubiquitous ads is a brave move because while surfers loathe them, they are vital revenue earners for portals and search engines.
"Customers hate these ads so we are not taking them anymore. We have taken a conscious decision despite losing the revenue from them," AltaVista marketing director Karl Gregory told vnunet.com.
In an attempt to retain advertisers and make ads more relevant to surfers, AltaVista is using what it calls 'Tracer' technology.
This allows advertisers to target their audience by giving them access to a surfer's previous searches. It will allow them to place ads to an individual user but these will be less obtrusive banner ads.
AltaVista has also crawled over five billion sites and weeded out duplicate pages, dead links and 'spam'.
"This is not email spam but sites that don't bear any relevancy to a search a user is interested in," said Gregory. "Companies do this by manipulating sites as they appear in a search and the index.
"You might be searching for bargain holidays but find yourself on a site that sells financial products because fake holiday sites have been set up which link to the company's main site and take the user there," he added.
Users will also be able to search in more than one language. For example, German, Italian and English speakers will now be able to conduct searches in all three languages simultaneously.
AltaVista is also going head-to-head with Google with its news search service, News 2.0, which can access stories going back to 1997.
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