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Some Bits About Ask.com

When I was first asked to be a guest blogger on this site I asked if it would be possible to every now and then mention some of what we were up to at Ask.com. I was told, absolutely yes, go for it. Well, here it’s the 20th of the month and I have shared very little about Ask.com.

So, without further adieu here are some fast facts and examples. For more about my role at Ask, I was interviewed by Search Engine Watch last week.

It’s important to remember that the Ask.com of 2007 is not the same Ask Jeeves product that was around in the 1990’s. Far from it. Jeeves retired 🙂 in 2006 and Ask.com is now an algorithmic engine (like Google, Yahoo, MSN Live, others) with some human edited features. We can save the discussion about what makes are algorithm different (ExpertRank) for another time.

1) Smart RSS
If a person enters the name of a blog or feed, the editors name (in some cases) not only do they get web results back but also a near real-time feed of headlines. Three Examples:
+ Metafilter
+ Om Malik
+ FDA Recalls

2) Query Context
If the search is pics of golden gate bridge not only are web results returned but also results from the Ask.com image database. Ask was the first major engine to offer this feature.

3) If a country name is searched Ask offers several sources for info about the country (or state) at the top of the page. Sort of a virtual ready reference shelf. In some cases, if a stat is searched for, that will also be returned on the results page. Example: Market Cap Cisco (CSCO).

or

Area of Iceland

or

Seattle, WA
Direct links to NCES database, city home page, chamber of commerce, etc.

4) This search for Ben Franklin not only offers useful results at the top of the page (a Smart Answer) but also options to narrow, expand, and see related names. These results are called Zoom, related results and are similar to what once was available on Teoma. In fact, Teoma technology powers Ask.com. Here’s another example for San Francisco earthquake.* We place them on the right rail because it’s a highly visible spot (where others place sponsored links).

5) Ask.com also owns Bloglines and both sites have blog/feed engines. Same database, different features. One feature people like about the Ask.com interface are the direct links (below each title) to subscribe to the feed or share the post using a variety of services, including Ask.com and Bloglines competitors.

6) Ask Maps.
Two points here.
A) Ask offers both walking and driving directions.
B) Ask offers dynamic rerouting and route recalculation.
Here’s an example.

Now, drag the #1 or #2 “pin” to a new location. Watch the street name(s) change and the route recalculated on the fly. You can have up to 10 locations. You can also add location by simply selecting a spot on the map, right clicking and selecting “Add Location.” Aerial imagery is also available by selecting the aerial link at the top of the map.

7) Ask.com is also helpful for the typical searcher who might want a Zip Code but only enter a city name. Example:
Zip Code Springfield. We offer a pull-down that lists all cities named Springfield along with a direct link to the USPS for all Zips in the selected city. Here’s another example with disambiguation built in. This time, a search for info about man’s best friend.

* Ask.com offers a near real-time feed of Earthquake data with a simple search for earthquake. Via the USGS. Clicking the link takes you to the data, mapped.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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