Lycos has overhauled its video search engine by licensing technology from video search specialist Blinkx in an attempt to boost visits to its web portal.

With Blinkx's technology, Lycos will offer a larger video index with better content and more advanced search capabilities. Lycos plans to make the new search features available today.

Lycos had been licensing a video search engine from another company that indexed and ranked clips based on keywords and other textual information that describes them, said Brian Kalinowski, Lycos's chief operating officer. But Blinkx employs deeper tactics, such as automatically transcribing what is said on clips and indexing it, letting users perform more granular searches, he said.

Blinkx's broad indexing of professional video from providers including news organisations and entertainment companies fits in very well with Lycos' comeback strategy of offering high-quality broadband content, Kalinowski said.

Lycos, a pioneer web portal, ranked as the 24th most popular website network in the US in July, with almost 24 million unique visitors, according to comScore Networks. Yahoo ranked first with 129 million unique visitors. In the late 1990s, Lycos ranked among the five most popular sites in the US.

The Blinkx deal is part of a larger push Lycos is readying for the third quarter, when it plans to launch a website devoted to high-quality, long-form video such as full-length movies and television episodes.

That broadband video site will be built on top of a technical platform from Lycos partner PermissionTV. The Lycos video portal will offer an extremely high-quality, DVD-like video. However, Lycos will steer clear of the very popular video-sharing format that has made YouTube one of the most visited sites in the world.

Other recent moves by Lycos include its entry into the VoIP market, an upgrade of its webmail service and the launch of social networking site.

With online video exploding in popularity, internet heavyweights including Yahoo and Google have been improving their video portals and search engines over the past year.