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History of World / Regional Search Engines and Directories

 by: Julie Wartes & Joel Ennis

Computers have become a way of life for people around the world. They are used to research term papers, check weather forecasts, track military progress, exchange ideas (blogs and chat) and to find the cheapest price on items etc. It is no surprise that as the computer age takes hold computer usage has increased. The number of websites that are being developed on the World Wide Web is growing at an ever increasing exponential amount. And because we live in a quick-fix society, with limited time on our hands, we need something to make surfing the web a lot easier, something that will sort out all this influx of information into a logical order. Hence the wonder of search engines, which have transformed the meaning of search and has made our jobs easier. This paper focuses on search engine case studies around the world. Different search engine regions selected for research in this paper were: American, European, Canadian, Australian and the UK.

American Search Engines

Introduction

As of January 1, 2004 the estimated human population of the United States of America was 292,287,428 and there were 164,100,000 computers (1). An estimated 90,000,000 households have access to internet (2). With this many people surfing the web, curiosity might cause one to wonder about the search engines being used in America. Two of the most popular and well known search engines in America are Google and Yahoo. Although most people have a preference to one or the other search engine it is difficult to say one is truly better than the other as the quality of search is similar. According to some users, Google is the most powerful search engine in the world (3). However, others users argue that between the two search engines, "There is an imperceptible difference in the quality and relevancy of results." (3).

History of Google

Google, www.google.com, was created by two Stanford University students. The original name was BackRub but by 1998 the name had been changed to Google and it became a private company (4). A Googol is (10100), the word Google was created as a variation (5). Some argue that Google is the top search engine in the world and indeed it has become so popular that it is now known as a verb (5).

General Information

Google has grown from indexing 25,000,000 pages in November of 1998 to 4,285,199,774 pages in of June 2004 (6). Google is a crawler based search engine, meaning that the search engine sends out crawlers which automatically visit sites, follow links and create indexes which are then searchable (7). Google is currently in a legal battle with the court systems to keep its name out of the dictionary (5). Google was the first major search engine to index non-HTML web content allowing PDF files to be accessed (8). Google also offers services such as "cached" links that allows a user to view older versions of pages. Other features include spell check, dictionary definitions, integration of stock quotes, street maps, and telephone numbers (4).

Google Homepage

The home page offers a user many convenient features. Google has an easy to use tool bar that users can download onto their personal computers (3). If a user wants to search specifically for pictures the "Images" button will give them access to the entire web but only those results containing images will show up. The "Groups" button allows users to participate in discussions that are taking place on Usenet newsgroups. The "News" button will provide headline news stories and you can have news alerts on specific subjects sent directly to your email. "Froogle" is a simple, easy way for a user to search for a bargain or even a specific item online. The "more" link provides access to human-compiled information from the "Directory", allows a user to get travel information or even simply use a calculator. The "Advanced Search" will allow a user to limit a search to PDFs or .edu search results. "Preferences" allows customization of Google services. "Language Tools" will translate any website or article into an understandable language. If you're curious about Advertising, Business Solutions or about Google, click below the search box on one of the links. The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button will take a user directly to the first page result of their search and not show any other pages. Google lists its sponsored links separately from its general search results.

History of Yahoo

Yahoo, www.yahoo.com, was created in 1994 (4). Most people are familiar with the phrase, "Do You Yahoo?" created as a Yahoo advertising slogan.

General Information

In 2004 Yahoo is believed to be indexing about 3 billion pages (9). Yahoo is the oldest directory, "relying on human editors to organize web sites into categories" however, Yahoo decided to make a giant shift towards crawler based listings in October of 2002 (4). Yahoo previously relied on Google for search results but in February of 2004 Yahoo created its own search technology (4). "It is important to note the new search engine is for web results only. Image search is still powered by Google, and News search is a combination of Yahoo's own editorial and technological resources." (10). Yahoo has many of the same features Google provides such as "cashed" links, spell check, dictionary, yellow pages, and mapping programs. Yahoo also provides email services for free as long as the user doesn't mind sharing the page with advertisements. In fact, Yahoo's knowledge and experience from the email services are believed to be helpful in providing Yahoo with a deeper understanding of spam and an ability to keep it out of their web page index (10).

Yahoo Homepage

Yahoo's home page is cluttered compared to the simple format of Google. Yahoo has the typical advanced search options and preferences allowing for customization of features. To the right of the search box is a pull tab that allows a user to limit their search to the web, images, yellow pages, news, or product information. A user can look up movie times, send yahoo greetings, search for a house, or find travel information, just to name a few things. Yahoo's website directory has sites organized by subjects such as, education, science, health, and government. Towards the bottom of the page is a list of local Yahoo's. Who knew that there was a Yahoo Singapore let alone a Yahoo Catalan. Like Google, Yahoo lists its sponsored links separately from its general search results.

European Search Engines

Introduction

There are 44 nations in the European region. These countries are home to 567,095,995 people, 9.33% of the world's population (11). Each of these countries has at least one regional public search engine. Some of them have several (12). Booz-Allen & Hamilton, one of the United States' older and more respected consulting firms conducted a study which pointed out that "22% of European households have access to the Internet" and in 2004 it is expected that, "Western Europe should have more than 215,000,000 users on the Internet on at least a quarterly basis (13)."

The countries of Europe have been involved in a long and complex process of European integration. The EU was formed 1 November 1993 and is a union of 25 independent states (Appendix 1) (14). As one of its objectives; the EU has taken on the challenge of integrating member states and surrounding countries to provide them with stable Internet and E-commerce development and growth (15). Alltheweb and Ezilon are two of the many search engine companies that are seeking to capitalize on the opportunity provided by the EU integration.

History of Alltheweb

Fast Search and Transfer (Fast) ASA started business operations in 1997 in O


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