Inktomi delivers Web Search 9

After divesting its enterprise search business last week to Verity Inc., Inktomi Corp. on Wednesday reinvigorated its OEM Web search focus with the release of Inktomi Web Search 9.

The new version includes bolstered algorithms and relevance techniques designed to better understand user context as well as new paid inclusion features that aim to give content providers more control over content targeting.

Much of the development in Version 9 is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the human side of Web search, including user context and intent, according to Vishal Makhijani, vice president and general manager of Inktomi's Web search business in Foster City, Calif.

Going beyond understanding the Web in terms of algorithmic search elements such as crawling, ranking, and indexing, the future of Web search lies in unearthing information about users, he said.

"The next order of magnitude improvement in relevance is not going to come from tweaking algorithms or increasing horsepower, it is going to come by really understanding the user and getting smarter about user context and needs," Makhijani said.

Web Search 9 also focuses on the growing trend of paid inclusion. Unlike paid placement for search in which subscribers purchase top ranking for search results, paid inclusion allows subscriber content to be included in Inktomi's index and considered for relevancy, according to Ken Norton, director of marketing and product strategy at Inktomi.

"Paid inclusion is about being included in our index and having some control over your content in our index," he said. "Our primary obligation is to the user, and that means relevance, so you can't purchase position with us."

Aiming to help users more easily identify their desired results, the Smart Summaries feature can analyze user intent in the query in order to return a contextual page summary, either generated by a human editor or customized by the content provider.

Another feature, dubbed Index Connect Geotargeting, lets paid inclusion advertisers target content to more than 30 global regions. Rather than including content in the broad index, the feature can determine what content is relevant for specific regions.

"This gives content providers a lot more control over how their content appears, which is great for them because it ultimately drives up ROI, and it is good for users because they get the most appropriate content per region," Norton said.

Version 9 also includes an XML Web services version of Inktomi's interface designed to allow portals and content providers to easily exchange information with the Inktomi search engine, according to the company.

"With our XML Interface, partners can feed us the data and it is [sent] directly into our index via XML," Norton said.

Another new capability can recommend spelling corrections during Internet searches. Because the database is built from user queries and indexed pages, the Spelling Suggestion feature can adapt to user behavior over time to correct commonly misspelled words and names.

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