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Infoseek tunes up search engine

The Net gateway introduces technology aimed at getting users more direct responses to general search queries.

Net gateway Infoseek today introduced a new technology on its site aimed at getting users where they want to go faster.

Dubbed Extra Search Precision (ESP), Portalopoly the technology provides more direct results to general search queries, according to Infoseek. Search and aggregation competitor AltaVista launched a similar service earlier this month.

With search and content aggregation sites fighting it out to be the home page for as many users as possible, these gateway or "portal" sites have added an array of bells and whistles to attract users and keep them coming back. By offering free email, stock quotes, paging, and other services, these portal competitors--which include Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, and others--hope to gain market share and ad dollars as more and more users come online.

But new users who are unfamiliar with the Internet often find it overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Even more experienced users may not be tapping into all the Net has to offer with the popular search engines and directories: a study published last month in the journal Science found that "The engines index only a fraction of the total number of documents on the Web; the coverage of any one engine is significantly limited."

With the portal sites overflowing with features and looking to attract new users, improving search technology could prove to be an effective means of differentiation.

With Infoseek's ESP technology, "To the user, it feels like we are thinking the way they are and, in a way, we are," Sue LaChance, director of technology products at Infoseek, said in a statement.

Along with the ESP technology, Infoseek also debuted a feature called Advanced Search, which the firm said is aimed at both new and experienced users. Net users make selections in a template to access results that address their specific needs, Infoseek said.