Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ask.com - worth another look?

Check out this article about Ask.com from USAToday.

For those of you familiar with Ask Jeeves, well, it's now Ask.com. The technology behind Ask Jeeves is now the search engine behind Ask.com. Their method of searching is to organize the search results into different groups of results instead of just giving you all the results and letting you take care of finding the relevant information you're looking for.

Comparing the results from Google and Ask.com when searching for "Columbia MD", both agree on their #1 result --- General Growth's website on Columbia. The rest of the results are pretty mixed for both (probably a result of the link farms out there that skew the results for those who subscribe to SEO services). But it was nice to see the Columbia Wikipedia page on Google's results (#4) and Columbia Association's website on Ask.com's results (#2). Interestingly the wikipedia page didn't appear on Ask.com's first page results and the Columbia association's website didn't appear on Google's first page results either. I looked at pages 2,3,4 and 5 of Google's results and the Columbia association website didn't appear there either.

Now what about Ask.com's organizing into different search groups (they call it clusters) feature? Well, the search groups it found were links to more defined searches for "Columbia, Maryland", "Columbia MD Restaurants", "Columbia MD Mall", "Jobs Columbia MD", "Fireworks in Columbia MD", "Columbia Association Maryland" and so on. If you drill down on those searches, the results are still pretty mixed.

But I think the technology is promising. And trying it out on more common search topics like "wifi" or a school research item like "photosynthesis" yields search group results that effectively provide guidance on where else to look for additional information. The search groups for photosynthesis were "Process of photosynthesis", "Photosynthesis diagrams", "Chlorophyll", "Steps of Photosynthesis", "Light Reactions" and so on.

So is it worth another look? Give it a try and see for yourself.

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