Fast advances advanced search
Less portal, more Google
The company has introduced a range of features, some of which represent Fast playing catch-up with its more established rivals such as Google Inc and AltaVista Co. For example, domain filtering, which allows searchers to restrict results to, say, .uk or .es sites, has been added.
"Spanish people don't always want to get Latin American content, French people don't always want to get Canadian content, and vice versa," said Tim Myer, Fast's VP of web search. He said the domain filters can be used in conjunction with language filters in these instances.
Where Fast builds on its established lead is with multimedia search. AllTheWeb has had image, video and audio search for two years, and recently introduced the unique ability to search the content of Flash content. Now, a feature also allows searchers to specify what kind of embedded multimedia content must be present in a page for it to be returned.
The company seems to be heading increasingly towards a Google-like business model. Web search engines that target the portal private label market always tread the fine line between appearing to be a partner and appearing to be a competitor. The only pure-play white-label web search firm is Inktomi, all the others have "demo" sites.
"In the future we'll be going toward a lighter page, with primarily textual advertising," said Myer. AllTheWeb carries banner ads, but the firm sees its future in Google-style text-only advertising. It will also make AllTheWeb look less like a portal. Myer said Fast often offers its new features to select OEMs before putting them on AllTheWeb.
Another Googleism on the new AllTheWeb is in how search results are displayed. Previously, the page's description metatag would be displayed below the link. Now Fast displays a small section of the page's text with the query highlighted in context, arguably giving the searcher a better idea of what the page contains.
A final new feature apparently unique to AllTheWeb is the ability to specify how high or low in the directory tree a page must be for it to be returned. A user could specify that only hits from a site's front page or only hits under second or third-level pages (such as domain.com/support or domain.com/support/software) should be returned.