has enhanced its FindArticles full-text article search service in an effort to boost search volume and create more paid listings inventory.
The free service builds on the existing publication database by attaching search algorithms from Wisenut, a search firm LookSmart acquired in March 2002. The new functions are available via a dedicated “Articles” tab on the search company’s Web site. Searches turn up both algorithmic results and paid listings, which appear at the top of the page.
LookSmart said it added the search enhancement in response to feedback from Web surfers and its 85 partner ISPs. “Our hope is we will attract more people using LookSmart for search, as well as more partners, and continue to build our business in that way,” said VP of Marketing Dakota Sullivan.
LookSmart is at an important crossroads as it faces a future without its largest client, Microsoft, which accounted for more than two-thirds of its revenue. Earlier this year, LookSmart announced that MSN had declined to renew a distribution deal that had the portal carrying its paid inclusion listings. The agreement was extended slightly to cover the holiday season, but LookSmart will be without that important revenue stream after January of 2004. In the meantime, the search player appears to be trying to shore up its business, working on products like paid listings and the new FindArticles interface.
The new service bears only a slight resemblance to news aggregator services such as Google News, which is eight months old and still in beta. For one, LookSmart does not attempt to present the latest news (the top search result for “Iraq” turned up an article from May 2003). Instead, LookSmart is positioning it as a targeted research tool, more akin to paid article searches of the sort found in libraries.
In fact, the FindArticles database is available through a partnership with LookSmart and The Gale Group, a division of the Thomson Corporation
, which provided the search firm with content from its ONTAP magazine database.
Publications with content available through the new service include Harper’s Magazine, Variety, Better Homes & Gardens, Sunset, USA Today Magazine, and numerous peer-reviewed medical journals and “specialty publications.”
The company said publication dates on the content, which is hosted by LookSmart, extend back in some cases as far as 1998; and some of the articles are no longer available on the publications’ own Web sites.
In addition to content searching, LookSmart’s new articles tab lets users browse magazine titles by issue, search within a publication, or exclude a publication from search results.
“With these helpful features, users will be able to find anything from medical papers to travel profiles, and from literary journals to celebrity biographies quickly and easily,” said LookSmart CTO Peter Adams.