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Dateline: 24 January 2000 Early Edition
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Portalmania -- .nz Style
Just when we thought the word "portal" was dying a timely death -- it seems that several of the country's big players in the Net game are scrambling to throw together the kind of offering that will attract crowds of local surfers looking to find directions to their favourite content.

Last week we heard that TVNZ was doing a deal with snap.com to provide a search-engine capability to flesh-out their TV1 website -- and now it's been announced that ClearNet is going to harness the search-engine capabilities of LookSmart to do the same.

So what does this mean to the existing small core of NZ-focused search engines and directories that aspire to be portals?

Within this group there are a number of well trafficked sites such as SearchNZ, AccessNZ, Utopia, NZ Pages, and others -- but can they compete with the big wallets of TVNZ and ClearNet?

Of course there are also other ways of asking the "big name" search engines to focus on .nz sites if you want. Just in case you weren't aware, you can prefix your AltaVista search queries with domain:.nz if you only want to look at sites that have a .nz domain name.

For example, if you entered domain: .nz computers into AltaVista you'd get New Zealand sites that were about computers.

So one must ask -- do we really need an NZ-specific search engine when many of the bigger US-based engines already have the ability to restrict searches to a locality?

Well it should be remembered that not all New Zealand-based sites have a .nz domain name. Indeed, an increasing number of NZ-specific sites are turning to .com names because of the "street-cred" that .com carries. Such sites are likely to be overlooked when doing a .nz-specific search.

Of course the answer to this is that any local site that uses a .com domain name should also register a .nz version.

I'd like to hear from you -- what do you think is the best search engine for local and international sites? Are they one and the same or do you use different engines depending on what you're looking for?


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