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Whatever happened to Excite?

Whatever happened to Excite?

Friday, October 14, 2005 16:51

In the latest of our series reviewing search sites that have now largely disappeared from view, we look at Excite this month. Originally one of the earliest and most prominent search tools, Excite has now become a minor search player and a shadow of its former self.


Excite first appeared at the end of 1995 and was one of a spate of launches by the new ‘crawler’ based search engines, sending out spiders to record websites and build a searchable index – others from this time were AltaVista, Lycos, WebCrawler and Infoseek. In 1996 Excite was growing fast and purchased WebCrawler and also Magellan, a smaller but highly regarded search tool.

Excite continued to build a strong position within the search market at the end of the 1990′s and established a series of partnerships with MSN and Netscape to provide search services. However, the main Excite site, along with international versions that had been established, tended to follow the portal route that many of the search engines of the time pursued, offering a range of other services as well as search.

Consequently, the impact of Google’s launch in 1998 meant that these established search sites began to lose traffic and Excite was acquired by @Home.com (a broadband service provider) in a $6.7 billion merger in 1999. This failed to halt the slide, however, and by 2001 Excite@Home was facing significant debts, despite being one of the top ISPs in the US. The Excite search index was also falling behind the other main players of the time – Google, FAST, AltaVista and Inktomi.

Eventually filing for bankruptcy in the US, Excite@Home was broken up as part of a takeover of the service by AT&T. The Excite.com portal was eventually purchased by Ask Jeeves in March 2004 and the European operations were also taken over this year, giving Ask Jeeves ownership of all the domains and portals in different countries across Europe.

Excite continues to exist as a brand at the moment, with its range of portal services being offered in the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. In the US, search results are provided through a metasearch tool combining results from a number of pay-per-click and natural search tools (including Google and Yahoo) whereas the Excite UK website currently replicates the results generated by Ask Jeeves and also offers directory results from the Open Directory.

If you’d like to know more about Excite, or if there is a search tool that you used to use in the past and wonder whatever happened to it, please let us know.

This article was written by the web search workshop, a search engine optimisation and marketing consultancy for UK business websites. Contact us today for a free assessment of your website.

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