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Infoseek tunes up search engine

Internet search service Infoseek Guide is setting up new guideposts this week for users trying to find their way through the vast amounts of information available on the Web.

Internet search service Infoseek Guide is setting up new guideposts this week for users trying to find their way through the vast amounts of information available on the Web.

The company revamped its service to provide "searching in context," a feature that it claims is unique among Net search engines. This mechanism provides a list of related subjects and keywords for every search, in addition to a list of direct hits.

Infoseek also struck deals with 17 magazines and content publishers to add a new content area to its site called the iZone.

The company says both new features are a result of studies of how people use their search engines. Users tend to launch their searches by using very broad topic areas, such as "movies," that pull up a wide variety of mostly extraneous hits.

Searching in context, however, is designed to let users continue choosing broad categories but to help narrow their searches by also providing a list of related topics. For example, a search on "Republican primaries" can also point users to searches on "conservative opinions," "candidates," or "Medicare and Social Security."

The iZone, on the other hand, carries rotating feature stories on selected subjects from 17 content providers, including Billboard, Inc. Online, Quote.Com, Women's Wire, and CondeNet. The current menu of topics includes The Campaign Trail, The Arcade, Sports Arena, and a Special Event feature on the coming Mike Tyson fight. The company says it will change both the stories and the topics periodically.

The new features arrive just as Infoseek's three-month contract as Netscape Communications' featured search engine in the Navigator browser is about to expire.