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Dossier Altavista

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@-web (DUI)
Onze Duitse collega @-web schrijft:

Altavista nur noch ein Index

Henk van Ess, Redakteur der niederländischen Webseite "Voelspriet" informierte mich gestern über seine persönlichen Forschungsergebnisse bezüglich der AltaVista-Indizies. Er fand heraus, dass AltaVista den Länderindex in 22 Ländern seit dem 29.April nicht mehr erneuert, bis auf wenige Ausnahmen.

Ein Umstand den jeder im deutschsprachigen Bereich bemerken konnte, wenn er versuchte, die Webseiten bei ( oder .ch oder .at) anzumelden.

Die deutschsprachigen Anmeldeseiten sind längst entfernt, es gibt nur noch die Anmeldung im internationalen Index. Logische Schlussfolgerung ist, dass der separate deutschsprachige Index nicht weiter aufrecht erhalten wird.

Genau dieser Umstand ist von AltaVista gegenüber Henk van Ess bestätigt worden.

AltaVista legt dar, dass es zu zeitaufwendig ist, die einzelnen Länderindizies zu pflegen. Die 22 Länderportale werden über den weltweiten Index bedient. Die freie Anmeldung für die Indizies war noch verfügbar, als schon feststand, dass die Länderindizies nicht weiter gepflegt werden.

Für die nationalen Indizies bedeutet das, die Suchenden, werden mit einer schnell veraltenden Datenbasis bedient.

Die auf "Voelspriet" veröffentlichte Kritik richtet sich gegen den Umstand, dass diverse niederländische Nutzer die Express-Anmeldung gegen Bezahlung benutzten, aber nicht in den niederländischen Index aufgenommen werden.
Sie bekommen dafür keinen Trost. Teilnehmer die am der Express-Submission unter der Annahme teilnahmen, dass sie in den Länderindex aufgenommen werden, erhalten ihr Geld nicht zurück. Sie werden jedoch in den weltweiten Index aufgenommen.

an About site
About Web Search (USA)
Voelspriet krijgt van de prestigieuze Amerikaanse zoeksite About WebSearch alle credits voor het nieuws "Where Have Your AltaVista Listings Gone", maar Theo Stielstra van zoeksite Zoekprof mag natuurlijk ook niet ontbreken als bron. We hebben redacteur Kevin Elliot inmiddels een berichtje gestuurd.


Web Search Tip of the Day
Where Have Your AltaVista Listings Gone?

August 29, 2001

If you have submitted pages to any of AltaVista's 22 regional/international search sites in the past four months, you may be surprised to learn that your pages have not been getting into the region-specific index. This applies to pages submitted through the regional sites' paid inclusion service, Express Submit (managed by AltaVista's directory partner LookSmart), as well as those added via the regular free submission routine on regional sites.

It also means that if you are searching at any of the AltaVista regional portals, you won't get local results for content that has appeared on the Web since late April. The story has emerged through investigation by Henk van Ess, editor of the Dutch search engine news and information site Voelspriet. Mr. van Ess was puzzled by the absence of recent listings at AltaVista's portal for the Netherlands. He discovered that local databases hadn't been updated for 15 weeks, for any of AltaVista's non-US sites.

"They just stopped indexing after April 29," he writes. "But they still took payment for inclusion in the local database. The free submission was also still open, although AltaVista knew they wouldn't include any more new entries. The public was fooled." An AltaVista spokesperson told Mr. van Ess that the local databases are being discontinued. "The 22 countries will be offered the results of the worldwide database," he reports. "Webmasters who were under the impression that Express Submit would give them a place in the database of their own country won't get their money back, but they are included in the worldwide database."

In the U.S., PC World has picked up the story, with additional information from AltaVista technical architect Ian Hegerty. He explains that AltaVista is merging regional URLs into the main international database. "Most Web masters are aware that indexing pages takes time. Typically we update every six weeks. Now we've skipped a cycle because of the merge." Behind the scenes, the word is that AltaVista is preparing to roll out a major upgrade of its search service, which will be available across all of the regional sites as well as the main U.S. outlet, about a month from now. It looks like they've chosen to sink all their effort into the upgrade, and let the regional services slide in the meantime.

My advice to webmasters: submit all your pages, regional and otherwise, through AltaVista's primary site at, or use the paid Express Inclusion service (not the same as the LookSmart/AltaVista Express Submit), also from the main AltaVista site.

Kevin Elliott

Wat en niet lukt, lukt uitgeverij IDG wel. AltaVista geeft uitgebreid commentaar op het onderzoek van (en Zoekprof).

Searching for a Web page that was created after mid-April this year? Better not try any of the 22 regional AltaVista Co. search sites. No new Web pages have been added for months to the index behind the regional search sites, AltaVista confirmed Tuesday. The local sites are supposed to generate search results relevant for Web users in a specific country. By default, all local sites search in the regional index. AltaVista, which went online in 1995 as the Web's first full-text search engine, heavily promotes the regional sites. When a user from the Netherlands, for example, logs on to, a message pops up urging the user to go to the regional AltaVista site.

AltaVista said the index is outdated because the database that holds the regional URLs (Universal Resource Locators) is being merged with the main international database. "In April we started the process of merging the one physical index that holds all the 22 regional sub-indexes with the international index. You have to stop adding URLs if you are doing a merge," said Ian Hegerty, technical architect for AltaVista.  Ultimately the merger of the two indexes should result in a better search service, but the new Web index won't be ready for about another month, according to Hegerty. He also said that the database merger is not related to AltaVista's restructuring or to the closure of several of its international offices.

"This is a consolidation exercise, but the justification is technical, to improve user experience. The regional indexes will be back and much better than before. It should take between two and four weeks for the new regional indexes to be online," said Hegerty.

AltaVista sees no reason to alert Web users or Web masters who might be wondering why after four months their Web site has appeared in AltaVista's international index, but still can't be found using the regional search service, he said.

"Most Web masters are aware that indexing pages takes time. Typically we update every six weeks. Now we've skipped a cycle because of the merge," said Hegerty. He made no comment when it was pointed out that more than one cycle has been skipped, as it has been over four months since new pages were added to the regional indexes.

AltaVista has local pages for: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. and the U.S. (NOORWEGEN)

AltaVista drops local databases

AltaVista is now abandoning the system with special local search engine databases for national or regional versions of its search sites. This has caused some consern in the Dutch search engine community.

AltaVista has not updated the local databases for over three months in 22 countries, including the UK, Holland, Germany, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, India and Korea. Only a few sites were added after April 29. Websites who have paid for inclusion in their local AltaVista database (Express Inclusion) have not been included either., a new Dutch site about search engines, published the results of an investigation yesterday. It was quoted on Dutch radio, television and the biggest news websites.

Editor Henk van Ess discovered that local databases weren't updated for 15 weeks in none of the non-US versions of AltaVista. "They just stopped indexing after April 29. But they still asked for money for inclusion in the local database," he says. "The free submission was still open, although AltaVista knew they wouldn't include any more new entries. The public was fooled.''

His report fits with observations made in the search engine optimization community. Lately it has become impossible to add new sites to the local indexes. Instead webmasters have been led to the international US submission system.

AltaVista has confirmed the findings of "We will stop with the local databases because they are too time consuming. The 22 countries will be offered results from the worldwide database,'' a spokesman said.

Webmasters who where under the assumption that 'Express Inclusion' would give them a place in the database of their own country, won't get their money back, but are instead included in the worldwide database.

It seems to Pandia that the main problem here must be that buyers of AltaVista's local paid inclusion service have been under the impression that they would be included in a special national version of the AV database, expecting higher rankings in local searches.

It should be noted that the national versions of AltaVista continue to give priority to local sites in the search results, unless the searcher explicitly asks its not to. If you go to the British version, you will find that the option "Find results: UK" is pre selected. The results will give priority to .uk sites. As soon as all results, local as well as "international" are fetched from the same database, local sites will normally get a better ranking, even if they are included in the international index only.

At the moment, however, AltaVista continues to use the "old" local databases in default searches. As most people using the local version are not likely to select a "worldwide search" when using the search service, new local sites will not show up in the search results, even if the webmaster has paid for the inclusion using the AltaVista Express Inclusion program.

This is what the Express Inclusion service says about local versions and paid inclusion:

"Express [paid] Inclusion submissions are added to AltaVista's global web index. AltaVista has not yet released a program providing rapid inclusion and frequent refresh for specific regional/country searches. AltaVista International sites provide radio buttons which allow end users to search either regional or worldwide content. URLs submitted through this program are accessible when the worldwide option is chosen, in addition to all queries on infoSpider [the company selling paid inclusion] is not currently associated with any AltaVista program that provides inclusion for regional content to AltaVista regional international sites."

We suggest that AltaVista as soon as possible starts using the international database only on all versions of its search site in order to avoid further accusations