Page not found on AltaVista's regional websites

Searching for a web page that was created after mid-April this year? Better not try any of the 22 regional AltaVista search sites.

          Searching for a web page that was created after mid-April this year? Better not try any of the 22 regional AltaVista search sites.

          No new web pages have been added for months to the index behind the regional search sites, AltaVista confirmed Tuesday. The local sites are supposed to generate search results relevant for web users in a specific country. By default, all local sites search in the regional index.

          AltaVista, which went online in 1995 as the web's first full-text search engine, heavily promotes the regional sites. When a user from the Netherlands, for example, logs on to, a message pops up urging the user to go to the regional AltaVista site.

          AltaVista says the index is outdated because the database that holds the regional URLs (Universal Resource Locators) is being merged with the main international database.

          "In April we started the process of merging the one physical index that holds all the 22 regional sub-indexes with the international index. You have to stop adding URLs if you are doing a merge," says Ian Hegerty, technical architect for AltaVista.

          Ultimately the merger of the two indexes should result in a better search service, but the new web index won't be ready for about another month, according to Hegerty. He also says that the database merger is not related to AltaVista's restructuring or to the closure of several of its international offices.

          "This is a consolidation exercise, but the justification is technical, to improve user experience. The regional indexes will be back and much better than before. It should take between two and four weeks for the new regional indexes to be online," says Hegerty.

          AltaVista sees no reason to alert web users or webmasters who might be wondering why after four months their website has appeared in AltaVista's international index, but still can't be found using the regional search service, he says.

          "Most webmasters are aware that indexing pages takes time. Typically we update every six weeks. Now we've skipped a cycle because of the merge," says Hegerty. He made no comment when it was pointed out that more than one cycle has been skipped, as it has been over four months since new pages were added to the regional indexes.

          AltaVista has local pages for: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US.

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