New InSites into FAST Search Engine ...interview with Stephen Baker, Director of Business Development and Marketing
by Robin Nobles
Of major engines in search engine universe, FAST -- aka, alltheweb.com -- is arguably most unique. In many ways, it operates differently than typical engines and, in light of recent developments, it's timely that we probe a little deeper into inner workings of this strategically important engine.
To assist us with this article we invited Stephen Baker, Fast's Director of Business Development and Marketing, to lend his perspective. As you will see, Mr. Baker was quite upfront with his answers.
FAST powers other engines!
Like Inktomi, FAST powers other search engines. For example, you're probably already aware that FAST provides primary results for Lycos search engine. But what other engines does FAST power? Mr. Baker explained,
"In North America, we power all of Lycos and Lycos Latin properties as well as Telus portals and AllTheWeb. Our focus over 2002 will be to establish broader reach in US (currently 35%). 2001 was focused on European expansion, where we power over 75% of searches. This includes Lycos Europe and all of Terra sites, T-Online, Tiscali, including Excite.it, Scandinavia Online and Web.de. Overall, we appear on over 70 portals in European market."
...obviously an important consideration for companies doing business in Latin or European markets.
FAST also has its own engine.
Unlike Inktomi, FAST has its own public search engine. As you may know, you can't submit directly to Inktomi engine itself. Instead you must submit through an Inktomi partner as well as pay a fee for inclusion. And, only recently did Position Technologies make available pure Inktomi results for searching (http://188.8.131.52/search/) although certainly not in mainstream usage since public is generally unaware this specific search option even exists.
FAST, however, provides means to submit your site directly to them via alltheweb.com -- http://www.alltheweb.com/add_url.php -- which they use basically as a "testing" engine. AlltheWeb is where they first consider new features such as spam detection or use of ODP categories as a training set or even linguistic analysis of non-ODP categories.
According to Mr. Baker, AlltheWeb has also begun indexing dynamic content and supports 48 languages with over 700 million full-text HTML pages in index. Using a technique called query analysis, new version of AlltheWeb will remember your choices and give you a more personal search experience. An interesting possibility is that query analysis could potentially supplant importance of link popularity sometime in future.
I asked Mr. Baker if results at one FAST powered engine will match results at another? He replied that, like Inktomi, partner engines powered by FAST use their own algorithms. He said,
"Our engine is entirely tunable, allowing customers to pre- establish offensive content, language, etc., settings. In addition, most of our customers blend FAST results with directories, PFP, and licensed results."
Fast's new pay inclusion program.
On February 25, FAST officially launched their paid inclusion program. However, typical of FAST, their paid inclusion program is unique.
Administered by partners such as Terra Lycos, Fast's PartnerSite program has four versions designed to benefit a variety of online businesses based on size. Partner Lycos calls PartnerSite program Lycos InSite Select. The first level of program provides a means by which you can pay per page and offers following benefits:
* Guaranteed inclusion in Lycos index within 48 hours of submission. * Full refresh of your site content every 48 hours or less. * Automatic notification that your site has been submitted and indexed. * Guaranteed inclusion for a full year. * Personalized submission reports to see exactly what has been added to index and when. * Access to Search Services Central, which is an online account where you can make changes and request support.