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AltaVista Spruces Up Multimedia, News Offerings

AltaVista has expanded its multimedia index and upgraded its news search as it continues to joust with Google and others in the sector.

The moves are part of a "plan to further integrate multimedia with our core results and to provide the most robust multimedia and news resources on the Web," said Fred Bullock, chief marketing officer at the Palo Alto, Calif., company.

AltaVista has bumped its multimedia index to 240 million unique files, including images, video clips, MP3s and other audio file formats. It also applied a new proprietary relevance algorithm to make sure it returns target results from the large field.

In addition, enhancements have been made to the engine's filtering tools to screen out "noise" images such as buttons and spacer. gifs used in HTML construction.

The new iteration of the news search function allows users to specifically seek articles with embedded images. They can also search within a date range.

In all, AltaVista's index contains more than 4 million articles from 3,000 sources, worldwide. Earlier news search features included checks by date, topic, region or specific source.

The AltaVista upgrade is the latest among search companies, including Ask Jeeves, Google, Fast Search & Transfer and Lycos. Frequent technology refinements help deliver more accurate and faster results -- an evident competitive advantage.

AltaVista, which abandoned its IPO when the technology market downturn struck, is a subsidiary of Andover, Mass.-based Internet investor CMGI .