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Old 01-20-2005   #1
Chris Sherman
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AOL Search Moves Up to the Big Leagues

AOL has always been a player in search, answering more than 700 million queries per month from 35 million unique users. But recently they've decided to tear down the walls surrounding their service and beef up AOL Search so that anyone on the web now has access to high quality information, regardless of where it's located.

Today's SearchDay article, AOL Search: Playing In the Big Leagues Now covers the new enhancements, including search personalization features, result clustering using Vivisimo technology and local search results drawn from (among other sources) a customized crawl of the web by FAST Search & Transfer.

AOL's recent moves leave me with a sense of deja vu: Yahoo rolled out a similar series of enhancements just about a year before dropping Google as their web search provider. While AOL insists that its quite happy with the existing relationship, Yahoo said the same thing right up until the day they launched their own technology. Could history be repeating (or at least echoing)?

Comments welcome!
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Old 01-20-2005   #2
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Originally Posted by Chris Sherman
AOL has always been a player in search, answering more than 700 million queries per month from 35 million unique users.
Sounds like roughly 10% of Google's traffic . . . Darn, that is BIG leagues! Very exciting?

I wonder if they will do anything special with AOL Latino ~ Search?
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Old 01-20-2005   #3
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Question

So if they start pulling more traffic from other engines, how much of each? Anyone want to go out on a limb and offer some thoughts? I'm betting it's not going to be an equitable percentage. My thinking is that they will pull more people away from Yahoo than Google. I think that AOL users are already more comfortable with a portal. I wonder how much they might or might not pull from MSN. It could be a very inopportune time for MSN to have launched their new engine.
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Old 01-23-2005   #4
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I suspect Yahoo has better brand loyalty than smaller portal engines like Lycos and Excite, who will be hurt by this - I can't see many users abandoning Yahoo for AOL.

Yahoo have loyal users from their IM software, toolbar, email, ticker, My Yahoo!, ISP deals [BTYahoo in the UK, SBC and now Verizon in the USA] etc.

I think Lycos and Exite will be the ones hurt by this - maybe Ask too, but I doubt that; from what I've seen peole who are loyal to Ask stay with the butler. LookSmart could be hurt too in the US, if they get any direct searches any more anyway. I'm in the UK - their domain doesn't work right now.

As for MSN - they can hurt Lycos and Excite too (Excite is owned by Ask via their acquisition of IHS last year). They can out advertise them, out develop then and use MSN Messenger, Hotmail etc to driver users to their search engine.

Last edited by KeywordMonkey : 01-23-2005 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Added thoughts about MSN
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Old 01-23-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstew
So if they start pulling more traffic from other engines, how much of each? Anyone want to go out on a limb and offer some thoughts? I'm betting it's not going to be an equitable percentage. My thinking is that they will pull more people away from Yahoo than Google. I think that AOL users are already more comfortable with a portal. I wonder how much they might or might not pull from MSN. It could be a very inopportune time for MSN to have launched their new engine.
As far as I am aware AOL is committed to using Google both organic and paid.
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Old 01-24-2005   #6
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That's what I believe too - they intend for the medium term at least to use the best technology from a variety of partners (Google for PPC and organic, FAST for local search crawling in the future, Yellow Pages partners, Indegino for pay per call) and use interface develoments and huma editors to extract the best results from this.
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Old 02-01-2005   #7
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FAST got great technology and growing extremly fast (hehe) in the business search market. I think FAST could be a better partner strategically if AOL got plans to take marketshares in the search industry.

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Old 02-02-2005   #8
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I agree to a degree Kim - but there may be legal restrictions on how far FAST can go into mainstream web search because they sold that side of their business to Overture.

The last thing Overture (and now Yahoo) would want to see is them becoming a competitor.
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Old 02-02-2005   #9
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Yes, that is understandable. I know there was some restrictions, but dont know for how long.

Still I want to stress again that FAST might not get that much attention any more in the US, but they are really growing extremly fast and are totally undervalued (monetary and attention wize) if you ask me.

The business and goverment search market is huge and got a endles potential. Still, with the release of the Google "Light" SE in this market, big G are fighting back.

Last edited by kservik : 02-02-2005 at 04:39 AM.
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Old 02-02-2005   #10
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True, they always were under-represented in the US (I'm in the UK and know the good reputation they had both here and in the Scandinavian countries esp.).

However they are out of the "sexy" web search market as far as most people are concerned (esp. journalists). Maybe a period of comparitivie stealth mode will allow them to focus on R&D and bring some good developments to the market.

Competition can only be good for innovation...
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Old 02-02-2005   #11
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They are the world leader in Enterprise Search and the FAST ESP is a product that will let them stay there for a while.

Info: http://www.fast.no/

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