The Search Engine Altavista

Altavista is a hybrid engine. It independently gathers results from its own index of 550 million pages, and supplements this with data from LookSmart and listings from Overture.

One of the oldest search engines on the Internet, Altavista was created in 1995 by scientists at Digital Equipment Corporation who, “devised a way to store every word of every page on the entire Internet in a fast, searchable index. This lead to the development of the first searchable, full-text database on the World Wide Web.” The company Altavista was acquired by Compaq in 1998, and finally by its current owner, CMGI, in August of 1999. The name Altavista means “a view from above,” and was conceived in a laboratory after the words Alto and Visto were accidentally placed together on a white board.

On February 18, 2003, Altavista was acquired by Overture for $140 Million in cash and stock. This acquisition signaled a shift in Overture’s business model to include more of the traditional search engine market.

On July 14, 2003, Yahoo! Inc. announced it was buying Overture in a $1.6 billion deal. This agreement brings not just Overture, but also allows Yahoo to Integrate Inktomi, FAST, and Altavista into one massive, powerful search engine database.SEO Test

Through its existence, Altavista has led the search engine industry in many areas. It was one of the largest and fastest search engines until FAST search and Google were developed. It was also the first search engine to offer translation services via its Babel Fish technology, and also the first to localize its site for Chinese, Japanese and Korean searchers. Altavista continues to maintain its strong international presence, and is currently available for citizens of over 20 countries.

On June 26, 2001, Altavista launched a pay-for-inclusion program called “Express Inclusion.” The new program allows webmasters to submit up to 500 URLs that will be included in Altavista’s index, and re-indexed every 7 days. This service does not alter the way web sites are ranked, it only guarantees inclusion.

What Does The Altavista Search Engine Look At?

When considering search engine optimization for Altavista, you should keep the following in mind. According to Altavista’s own published information:

“Here are some specific examples of manipulation that may cause us [Altavista] to block a site from our index:

  • Pages with text that is not easily read, either because it is too small or is obscured by the background of the page.
  • Pages with off-topic or excessive keywords.
  • Duplication of content, either by excessive submission of the same page, submitting the same pages from multiple domains, or submitting the same content from multiple hosts.
  • Machine-generated pages with minimal or no content, whose sole purpose is to get a user to click to another page.
  • Pages that contain only links to other pages.
  • Pages whose primary intent is to redirect users to another page.

Attempts to fill Altavista’s index with misleading or promotional pages lower the value of the index for everyone. We do not allow URL submissions from customers who spam the index and will exclude all such pages from the index.”

What Types of Web pages Does The Altavista Search Engine Not Index?

Altavista’s crawler does not index the following types of content:

  • Sites that require any kind of registration or password. If you would like your Web pages to be indexed, make the registration optional;
  • Content that is in a database. If the content of your database is largely text; create plain-text static HTML pages with that same content;
  • Dynamic pages (these pages typically have a ? in the URL). You may submit dynamically created pages via our Basic Submit or Express Inclusion services *Link No Longer Valid;
  • Information inside frames; Altavista indexes the outside of the frame as a distinct page, so you should have non-frames as well as frames versions of your Web pages, and submit the non-frames versions via our Basic Submit or Express Inclusion services *Link No Longer Valid;
  • Text that is embedded in images. You should always include ALT text in your image tags.
  • Text that appears in audio or video files.
  • Information that is generated by Java applets or in XML coding;
  • Comments, that is, text between
    symbols in the source code;
  • Pages that time out before the crawler can index the entire page.

Altavista’s search results come from three places:

  • Altavista’s own search index
  • LookSmart Directory
  • Overture

Altavista also has local search engines targeting each of the following markets:

The Americas

  • – Brazil
  • – Canada
  • – United States


  • – Austria
  • – Belgium
  • – Denmark
  • – Finland
  • – France
  • – Germany
  • – Ireland
  • – Italy
  • – Netherlands
  • – Norway
  • – Portugal
  • – Spain
  • – Sweden
  • – Switzerland
  • – United Kingdom


  • – Australia
  • – India
  • – Korea
  • – New Zealand