The Search Engine Algorithm Stakes – Alexa and Dogpile Enter the Race

- May 1, 2008

As the big three search engines (Google, MSN, and Yahoo) have been so active of late, with advancements and proposals and deals flying back and forth between them, news on other search technologies available might have been missed. We’re going to take the opportunity now to welcome Alexa and Dogpile to the search algorithm stakes.

Ask anyone involved with search engine optimization about the web traffic monitoring and rankings service Alexa (which is a division of Amazon) and you may have the answer preceded by an exasperated sigh. While the downloadable Alexa toolbar has been used by many Internet users, from the casual surfer to webmasters, the fact that the ranking site had based its statistical information from the toolbar users alone was frustrating. Some of the functionality that Alexa offered with the way it served up this data was good, but the fact that the data was, for lack of a better word, “skewed” was the cause of much frustration. It was Alexa’s heavy reliance on user data that led to the sighing and grinding of teeth.

But this is no more. Alexa recently announced that it had completely revamped its ranking protocol. Alexa said it would be moving away from releasing data based solely on users of the downloadable toolbar, to ranking sites based on info from multiple sources. The new Alexa rankings are now based on more sources of data. This provides a much better indicator of website popularity, which in turn leads to better rankings as site popularity is more accurately reflected in the new and improved algorithms. Additionally, Alexa has introduced an improved methodology to provide consistently accurate rankings for all countries.

Not to be left behind, Dogpile (owned by InfoSpace) has also made improvements. Dogpile has not only updated their updated search algorithm, but also their site design and they now offer new partner content.

Dogpile’s updates include improvements in the blending of results (the importance of blended results has really come to the fore as a result of Google’s Universal Search), the addition of tabbed search categories on the home page, the launch of a “SearchSpy” social networking widget for Netvibes or iGoogle, deep links (which are along the lines of Google site links), and integrated content from new partner agreements

While the big three search engines continue to one-up each other in terms of relevance and functionality, the smaller search engines and web ranking tools are doing the same. Alexa and Dogpile have shown that they are listening to their users and are serious about continuing to upgrade their offerings and providing their users improved features and technology. As Google, MSN, and Yahoo push one another to be bigger and better, their advancements also serve to inspire the other ranking and search technologies in the market. It will be interesting to see who will be the next entry to this stage of the race.

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