New InSites into the FAST Search Engine . . . an interview with Stephen Baker of Fast, Part 1

Jun 22 21:00 2002 Robin Nobles Print This Article

New InSites into the FAST Search Engine ... with Stephen Baker, Director of Business ... and ... Robin NoblesOf the major engines in the search engine ... FAST -- aka,al

New InSites into the FAST Search Engine ...interview with Stephen Baker,Guest Posting Director of Business Development and Marketing

by Robin Nobles

Of the major engines in the search engine universe, FAST -- aka,
alltheweb.com -- is arguably the 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 the
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 the Lycos search engine. But what other engines does FAST
power? Mr. Baker explained,

"In North America, we power all of the Lycos and Lycos Latin
properties as well as the Telus portals and AllTheWeb. Our focus
over 2002 will be to establish broader reach in the US (currently
35%). 2001 was focused on European expansion, where we power over
75% of searches. This includes Lycos Europe and all of the Terra
sites, T-Online, Tiscali, including Excite.it, Scandinavia Online
and Web.de. Overall, we appear on over 70 portals in the 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 the 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 the pure Inktomi results for searching
(http://169.207.238.189/search/) although certainly not in
mainstream usage since the public is generally unaware this
specific search option even exists.

FAST, however, provides the 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
the 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 the index. Using a technique called query analysis,
the 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 the importance
of link popularity sometime in the future.

I asked Mr. Baker if the results at one FAST powered engine will
match results at another? He replied that, like Inktomi, the
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 the PartnerSite
program Lycos InSite Select. The first level of the program
provides a means by which you can pay per page and offers the
following benefits:

* Guaranteed inclusion in the 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 the index and when.
* Access to Search Services Central, which is an online account
where you can make changes and request support.

Cost?

For a "limited time" (they don't say when the offer expires), the
annual membership is $18 plus $12 per URL. This is assuming you
use Lycos InSite Select to initiate your service. Prices may vary
according to reseller.

When you actually sign up for the service, you'll be asked to
choose between Standard Submission where the spider begins at a
starting point that you determine, and then indexes as many pages
deep as you specify. Advanced Submission allows you to list all
pages you specifically want indexed after which the FAST spider
will continue to "discover" URLs within your site up to the total
number you've specified. This option assures that your most
important pages will make it into the FAST index rather than
leave the indexing to chance.

Here's how Lycos InSite's spider works:

* The spider goes to a Web site and follows hyperlinks throughout
the site.
* The spider parses and downloads certain pages as it moves
through the site.
* The spider has reached the limit of URLs determined by the
user's subscription service, it stops spidering the Web site.
* The file of spidered URLs are then built into a search catalog.
* If your account is missing pages and you use JavaScript
heavily, you can submit individual pages using "Advanced
Submission."
* If your pages use META refresh tags, enter the target
destination pages instead.
* And, further details can be found at the web site --
http://searchservices.lycos.com/searchservices/

Besides the basic version of PartnerSite I (explained in the list
above), FAST offers three additional versions of the program, all
geared toward larger sites with different needs. Lycos calls
these versions Lycos InSite Pro and within this category they
have their PartnerSite II, III, and IV classifications.

Mr. Baker explained, "Recent studies indicate that 80% of
shopping carts are abandoned because of poor site search." So,
FAST is providing sites with a search-ability solution through
its PartnerSite packages.

PartnerSite II: Designed for sites of up to 250 pages and
includes a FAST-hosted onsite search engine. Cost: $189 month.

PartnerSite III: Designed for sites up to 500 pages and also
includes a FAST-hosted onsite search engine. Cost: $279 month.
Mr. Baker elaborated on PartnerSite III:

"When you register for version III, the FAST spider crawls your
entire site, up to 500 pages. In addition to including those
pages in the FAST index, we host an index of your site's pages
and provide you with a Search My Site tool bar that you can paste
into your HTML. This allows site visitors to search only the
contents of your site. In the next version, we will provide more
control to the subscriber over the site search rankings, but Web
search rankings will always be determined by FAST."

PartnerSite IV: Designed for sites up to 500 pages and provides
bulk inclusion via XML but no site search.

Baker added, "We have developed our own DTD (Document Type
Definition) to integrate XML feeds. XML indexing is actually how
we currently index database pages. We have the partner create an
XML feed according to our DTD that has the 'page to fetch.' This
essentially tells our crawler not to explicitly try to crawl the
page, but rather, just 'fetch,' the page's contents."

Editor's Note: Document Type Definition defines the legal
building blocks of an XML document. See the DTD School for more
information: http://www.w3schools.com/dtd/default.asp

For the latest information on the different versions of
PartnerSite, visit:

North American Customers:
http://searchservices.lycos.com/searchservices/

International Customers:
http://www.lycos.de/

Lycos is only one of Fast's pay inclusion program partners in a
list that is still growing. For the complete partner list. go to:

http://www.fastsearch.com/products/internet/partnersite_partners
.asp


(Continued in Part 2)

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About Article Author

Robin Nobles
Robin Nobles

Robin Nobles, Director of Training, Academy of Web Specialists,
has trained several thousand people in her online search engine
marketing (http://www.academywebspecialists.com) training
courses. She also teaches 3-day
hands-on search engine marketing workshops in locations across
the globe with Search Engine Workshops
(http://www.searchengineworkshops.com).

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