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The components of a portal site currently are:

1. Search engine

Web directory, e-mail address directory, yellow pages, white pages, search agents, suppliers' listings ...

2. Services

free e-mail, Website hosting ...

3. Content

stock market information, weather report, news, TV, sport ...


4. Community spaces

Web forum, live discussions, pager message service


5. Online shopping space

directory :shopping mall, comparison shopping, online store creation.

Their income is mainly generated by :

· advertising (display or sponsoring)
· commissions from sales generated (affiliation programmes)
· inclusion in directories (which are increasingly paid-for)
· sale of services (Yahoo.com offers the creation of online stores)

All the search engines have tended to transform themselves into portal sites, to the extent that it's getting harder, especially for the newcomer to the Web, to distinguish between those that were originally Web directories (such as Yahoo-http://www.yahoo.com) and those that were search engines with integrated text (such as Altavista-http://www.altavista.com, Excite-http://www.excite.com, Webcrawler-http://www.webcrawler.com, Hotbot-http://www.hotbot.com or Lycos-http://www.lycos.com).

The true portal sites have the following characteristics :

· they have a very high visiting rate (relative to their targeted audience)
· they increase customer loyalty
· they almost always have a high-quality research service
· their size is critical to their ability to act as a federate site in a specialised field
· they are entry points which help their users to understand Internet better
· their complex economic structure does not rely solely on advertising revenue

The concept of a portal site has been widely adopted and redefined, as is often the case when an economic structure appears on Internet, to the extent where many sites now claim to be portal sites without offering all their basic characteristics. Very often, sites will combine a number of services, even before they have many visitors, which misses the point of the exercise. Nevertheless, to help you distinguish between the different sites which call themselves portal sites, here is an attempt at classifying them...


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If you enjoyed this site, we obviously share values: we have written it in 1999 !

We haven't updated it online as the vision still is more and more relevant: the more the internet matures, the closer it gets to our vision.

We still believe in innovation, creativity, rigour and results control.

Contact us if you need webmarketing services:

Raphael Richard, founder

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