The Pandia Awards 2002 - Archived

Note: This is an archived version of Pandia Award 2002 published in January 2003. See bottom of the article for more information.

Welcome to the 2002 Pandia Awards for best search tools, search oriented sites and search engine documentation!

The guests have arrived, the orchestra have tuned their instruments, the audience is seated and the jury has delivered its verdict.

Lights! Drum roll! Here we go!

1. Best all round search site

And the winner is: Google

The 2002 Pandia Award for best all round search site goes to Google for its user friendly interface, its large database and its talent for finding relevant sites.

No surprise there, really. Google won last year, and has a good chance of winning next year's award, unless they do something overwhelmingly stupid.

And this is what signifies Google, the ability to do the right thing at the right time. While many of the other search sites tried to become portals, Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to focus on the quality of search results, giving searchers what they were really looking for: relevant information.

So, when we asked our readers last year what is the best search site in the world, the great majority answered Google.

The secret of their success is no secret at all. Google has been able to combine science based research into information retreaval with a good understanding of user needs.

Google is an innovation driven company that channels most of its profits back into development work, thus laying the foundation for future success. They are not coy about it either, as their readily present some of their future plans at the Google Labs website.

Their main problem at the moment is actually their success. They have become the Microsoft of the search engine world, dominating both as a search site in its own right and as a result deliverer to other sites (like AOL and Yahoo!).

This makes them more vulnerable for attacks from webmasters complaining that they have been unfairly treated by Google's ranking methods. We have found, though, that they are fairly open about their views on what constitutes spam and how to get good rankings in their search engines.

If we are concerned about some of their policies, it must be that the company has been known to give in to pressure from parties wanting to censor some of the sites present in their database. We believe it is important to uphold the principle of free speech on the Web, and that no government or organization should be allowed to influence search results. Google did hold their ground against the Chinese authorities, though, when they blocked Google last year.

In any case, Google delivers, and for this they get the Google Award for Best All Round Search Engine.

Highly recommended

Fast has produced a worthy competitor to Google in their AllltheWeb search site. See below for more details.

2. Best professional search site

Fast takes up the challenge

Note: Microsoft acquired FastSearch (enterprise search product) On April 24, 2008 and the site no longer exists now. It is now Microsoft Development Center Norway.

As Norwegians we are naturally glad to see that a Norwegian company is one of the few able to challenge Google on the search engine turf.

Fast has developed a search engine that many considers to be as good as Google's. It is not that well known, however.

Fast does not promote its own search site, AlltheWeb, actively -- they consider it a showcase for their technology -- and there are not that many who know that Lycos and a large number of other search sites and portals are powered by Fast.

During last year, Fast has expanded its database (now containing some 2.1 billion pages) and improved the quality of search results significantly.

Fast AlltheWeb gets the award for best professional search engine for its strong support for advanced searching.

You may exclude "offensive content", and redesign the AlltheWeb pages using your own CSS-file if you feel like it. You may also save the advanced settings for future use.

Fast does not support true Boolean expressions, unfortunately, and does not plan to do so in the future. Librarians and professional searchers will miss this.

[Well, that was what Fast told us. However, no more than a week after Fast was awarded this award, they did implement true Boolean searching at their site. Read our article on New year innovation from Fast AlltheWeb for more on this and other advanced features.]

We would also like to see some more documentation of "hidden" features, e.g. on how to limit your search to Word documents and PDF files only.

Highly recommended

Last year's winner, AltaVista, is now actually the only major search engine that supports true Boolean searching. The page for advanced searching has a separate field where you may use brackets and operators like AND, OR and NEAR to your heart's content.

Non-professional searchers need not feel left out. Like AlltheWeb (and Google for that matter) AltaVista presents a menu based search page where users may decide how to filter out the results they are looking for.

AltaVista has, like AlltheWeb, spent a lot of time refining their site, making it more accessible and easier to use. This old timer has also improved the quality of search results, and should not be forgotten by searchers looking for hidden gems on the Internet.

However, we feel that they still have a way to go as regards coverage (database size) and relevance, which is why the site does not win the award this year.

Look out for HotBot

Hotbot is no longer a professional, advanced, search engine based on the Inktomi search engine only. Instead it has morphed into a common interface for several of the best search engines in the World: Fast, Google, Inktomi and Teoma, making it a natural destination for searchers who would like to switch quickly between several search engines.

Given that none of the search engines cover the exact same area of the Web, this might actually be a very good idea.

As the four search engines gives different support for advanced searching, there is not one common page for advanced searching. HotBot does provide advanced menu based search pages for each of the search engines, however, presenting a useful alternative to the original search sites themselves.

3. Best metasearch site

ez2www, cumbersome name, great site (Note: The site was defunct on July 2004)

A metasearch engine is a search site that gathers listings from several search engines and directories and combines them into one list of results.

Normally metasearch engines will give pages that have a high ranking in several search engines a boost in the metasearch ranking. This makes sense, as many such high rankings may be considered a vote of confidence.

Given that the search engines and directories do not cover the exact same areas of the Web, metasearch engines may also give you a broader reach of the Net.

There is actually, a large number of metasearch engines out there (see the list at the bottom of our metasearch page). Unfortunately, quite a few of them stink. The design and coding is bad, and the results are filled with pay per click text ads. There are some notable exceptions though, being one of them.

At the core of ez2www is a metasearch engine that gathers results from AlltheWeb, Teoma, Google, Yahoo!, AltaVista, Wisenut, ODP, and MSN.

The result pages are relatively uncluttered and easy to read. To help the searcher pinpoint the information she or he needs, ez2www has included links to relevant directory categories (directory results from the Open Directory) and to clustered results, i.e. to related and more focused search queries.

The pages that are considered most relevant are given a number of one to five stars.

At the bottom of each result page, ez2www tells you how many results each search engine has reported and how many of these the metasearch engine has fetched.

This is not all. There are separate metasearch engines for searching for news, auctions, encyclopedias, forums, images and MP3 files. There is a translation service, and a page for advanced searching that lets you limit your search to specific topic oriented search engines and sites.

Any cons? Well, ez2ww insists on giving us news in English on Norwegian affairs on the front page, meaning that it tries to give us a portal page based on our point of origin. If we were looking for portal features like these, we would probably go elsewhere. We do appreciate direct links to the relevant national parts of the Open Directory and other services, though.

Moreover, the name ez2www is probably not as easy to remember as the creators may think.

Highly recommended

Vivisimo remains a haven for ad free metasearching. It has good support for advanced searching and fetches results from a large number of high quality search engines, including for instance AltaVista.

Update: In 2012, The company was acquired by IBM and its search engine site is now defunct.

Some will miss the presence of Google and AlltheWeb in the search results. However, Vivisimo does gather listings from BBC and Yahoo!, which are based on Google results, and from Lycos, which is powered by Fast.

The home page is peacefully uncluttered, as is the result pages.

Like ez2www it will cluster results for further refinement of your query. Those of you miss the Northern Light search engine, should definitely take a look at Vivisimo.

Ixquick is another elegant and uncluttered metasearch site. Take a look!

4. Best site on searching

Search Engine Watch strikes again

Yes, it is impossible to get avoid Search Engine Watch. It remains the best site devoted to search engines and searching on the Net.

The site is huge, and includes information on a wide array of topics, including search engine submission, search techniques, tools, resources, ratings and tests. A paid subscription will give you access to more detailed information.

In spite if its size, the site is fairly easy to navigate, as the content is divided into quite intuitive "departments". The large amount of information does, however, make the site's search facility a must. New visitors should also take a look at the site map. Its various newsletters are highly recommended.

Search Engine Watch is edited by search engine guru Danny Sullivan. He has now been joined by Chris Sherman, who previously edited the site devoted to search engines -- a strong team, indeed.

Search Engine Watch gets the price for best site on searching because of its wide coverage and good insight into all things search engine.

Highly recommended

Greg Notess' Search Engine Showdown is a treasure trove of search engine information. This is the place to go to find obscure search terms and other tips on advanced searching.

Notess is also known for his analyzes of search engine sizes and has recently added a search engine weblog to his site.
Look out for...

Among excellent non-English sites, check out @-Web (German), Abondance (French), Voelspriet (Dutch) and Internetbrus (Swedish).

5. Best site on search engine marketing

Search Engine Watch, encore

Danny SullivanDanny Sullivan and Chris Sherman will have to excuse us. They have already thanked their parents, their spouses, their managers and their pets for winning the first award, and now they will have to climb the stage again to receive the award for best site on search engine marketing.

The best thing to say at this point in the show is that "We don't know what to say!"

Search Engine Watch is one of the few sites that cover the arts of Web searching and search engine promotion equally well. The amount of information is staggering, even if you do not pay to get access to the fee-based, closed section of the site (you should, though).

Danny and Chris have contacts in all the major search engine companies and are up to date on all the major developments in this part of Cyberspace.

Highly recommended

They are not alone, though. There is Pandia, of course. Another informative and useful site is Search Engine Guide.

Behind its rather bland appearance is hidden a large number of informative articles, written by search engine optimization experts from all over the world

Search Engine Guide also offers an up to date search engine news service and a directory of search sites.
Look out for ...

Search Engine Optimization Support Forums. To be quite honest, we are not quite sure what kind of site this is.

It is not a discussion forum, in spite of the name. It is not a regular Web log or search engine news gateway, either. Still, it does contain a lot of useful information for optimizers and marketing experts.

6. Best search engine discussion forum

It's a Webmaster's World

The search engine community is blessed with a large number of discussion forums and email lists. Someone might even say there are too many, given that there is a limited number of people that are interested in search engines (yeah, really!).

Webmaster World has in a short time become one of the most important discussion forums for professional Web marketers. Traffic actually increased threefold during 2002.

Its search engine discussions attract a large number of very competent search engine optimization experts, professional as well as non professional.

This is the place to go to hear the latest rumors, fresh search engine news and detailed analysis of the latest trends by well know experts like the Webmaster World chief himself, Brett Tabke.

The search engines have discovered the usefulness of communicating directly with the search engine marketing community, and one of the more active participants at Webmaster World is Google's Googleguy. This means that you may get the view of the search engines themselves, which is very useful when you are trying to fathom the obscure parts of search engine ranking.

Any cons? Sometimes interesting discussions are removed too early. We watch Ally MacBeal too, and know that some American lawyers will sue God if they think it will bring in some money. Still, sometimes we wish that controversial entries would be allowed to live a little bit longer.

Webmaster World wins the award because of its interesting discussions, its high news intensity and its knowledgeable moderators.

Highly recommended

The fact that Webmaster World is dominated by SEO professionals, may make the forum a bit intimidating for beginners that are afraid of posting "stupid questions" (there is really no such thing, you know).

It is not that the WW moderators are not a friendly bunch, but some will find it a bit embarrassing to ask questions like "what is a metatag?", when the rest of the group is discussing the set-up of Apache servers.

In comes the new "I Help You Free Search Engine Forums", a friendly and informal forum moderated by experts like Jill Whalen.

While Webmaster World has a functional and efficient design, I Help You Free Search Engine Forums is characterized by bright colors and dancing icons welcoming newcomers to the obscure world of search engine marketing.

Among other useful forums we would like to mention the mother of all search engine forums, called -- eh, well -- Search Engine Forums, and the I-Search email based discussion list.

7. Best publication on searching

Alan M. Schlein wins again.

Yes, there are several good introductions to Internet searching out there, but few presents the topic in such an useful and interesting way.

Find It Online, The Complete Guide to Online Research is a rich depository of rare and interesting search tools beyond the world of ordinary search engines and directories.

Here are people finders, mapping tools, yellow pages, government sources, public records, news resources, business tools, and much more. This is the book for professional researchers - librarians, journalists, scientists, investigators, salesmen and information managers - who are looking for detailed information on rather obscure topics. Nevertheless, the accidental searcher will also benefit from browsing this book.

The new edition has been updated and includes tips and search strategies from 20 information industry experts.

Alan M. Schlein is given the Pandia Award for Best Publication on Internet Searching for the book Find it Online because of his insight into the world of Internet searching and research, and his ability to present this knowledge in a clear and informative manner.

8. Best publication on search engine marketing

You can achieve a significant improvement in search engine rankings if you do some basic fine tuning of your site and your pages. And better rankings leads to more visitors, i.e. more potential customers or loyal readers.

Book coverYou can learn a lot by exploring sites like Pandia and Search Engine Watch and by following the discussions on forums like Webmaster World. In our experience, however, it is useful to start studying search engine promotion by reading a thorough introduction to the topic.

Should you then decide not to go on with the work, and hire a search engine promotion expert instead, you can use what you have learned in order to determine whether this expert actually is what he or she claims to be, i.e. a true expert.

The award for best publication on search engine marketing and publication 2002 goes to Planet Ocean for their Unfair Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars.

As Europeans, we find their marketing methods very fascinating and very American. Yes, they have a "the dog ate it money back guarantee", and you will get a bonus if you don't delay and buy the book today!!! (The fact is, of course that you will get the bonus whenever you buy the book.)

The book is veeery good, though, as is the bonus Search Engine News newsletter.

The Unfair Advantage Book gives you easy to understand information on practically everything regarding search engine and directory optimization and promotion.

Moreover, it is updated monthly, so if you feel like it you can print out a new version on the 1st of every month. This is important, as the search engine industry changes so fast, that what was common wisdom one month a go, may be considered folly today.

The book is published in a ready to download PDF format that can be read by the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program (included in most browsers).

You do not have to read every single edition of the book, however. If you buy the book Planet Ocean will give you a free 6 month subscription to Search Engine News with your order. This newsletter will keep you updated in the ever changing world of search engines.

You will also get access to four years of SENews archives and resources, a veritable encyclopedia of search engine promotion resources.

Highly recommended

Mike Grehan has written a very extensive, high quality, guide to search engine marketing, called Search Engine Marketing. The Essential Best Practice Guide.

This is a veritable encyclopedia of search engine optimization and promotion. While there is probably too much detailed information for the beginner or the impatient reader, the book should be of great use to SEO professionals and others that would like to know more on the science of how search engines work and how to optimize your site for good search engine rankings.

It says a lot about Grehan that he includes a brief history of search engines and a detailed description of the various modules of a search engine. Search engine algorithms are explained in detail, giving you a better insight into how search engines "think".

Moreover, there are reviews of online SEO resources, books, and interviews with search engine representatives and experts, as well as practical tips on how to write copy, design sites and optimize HTML files.

In order to protect his work from pirate copying, Grehan has published his book in a special Windows ebook format, which makes a little bit hard to access for Macintosh users (they will need Virtual PC with Windows to do that). If you want a paper copy you must print out each chapter separately.

9. Best search engine weblog

Gary Price's Resourceshelf

The Web log (or "blog") has conquered the Web. The search engine community has also seen a growth in the number of sites providing regular search engine news updates and personal musing on tools, resources and the industry. Even Pandia has its own blog.

Last years Honor Award winner Tara Calishains's Researchbuzz is still going strong.

The Pandia Award 2002 for Best Search Engine Weblog, however, goes to Gary Price for his Resourceshelf (previously known as Virtual Acquisition).

The Resourceshelf is updated daily and includes extensive information on the search engine industry, search syntax and techniques and information sources beyond the realm of search engines (online information, public records and archives, education research, libraries, business research and more).

Resourceshelf is the perfect spot for librarians, researchers and others looking for online quality information sources.

Highly recommended

While Gary Price is targeting librarians and researchers, Peter Da Vanzo is focusing on the needs of search engine marketers. His new Search Engine Blog did soon build a loyal following among SEO enthusiasts, and we are reading him regularly.

His blog does not contain as much information as Price's site, as his main purpose is to give links to relevant articles and resources on the Web. Recently, however, he has started publishing interviews with various search engine experts -- very interesting, indeed!

Look out for...

High Search Engine Ranking Search Engine Blog , a look at search engines and search engine marketing from down under.

Note: This is an archived, little bit shorter and revised version of the original page of "The Pandia Awards 2002". Although most of the content is outdated now as it was first published in 2002. We have made it available mainly because it's still sought by many readers of the website.