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According to an interview Search Engine Watch’s Kevin Newcomb had with Ask spokesperson Nicholas Graham, the search engine is still committed to search and denies allegations that Ask is “dead”. In fact, apparently the search community overreacted.

Kevin has more of the interview feedback in his article but these quotes sum up Ask’s position nicely:

“The idea that we’re going to become a women’s site is just plain wrong. We know that a sizable group of our core user base is women, and we know they come to us for a certain kind of search: to get answers, often in areas of reference, health and entertainment,” Graham said.

“We want to address the answer-seekers, who put things in a search box in certain ways,” Graham said. “We think it’s smart to identify who our most active users are. It’s smart to identify the kind of searches they’re looking for, and focus on building that up. We want to be the first place our core customers come when they’re looking for answers.”

Read more…

Today the Wall Street Journal broke incredibly sad news… indeed I think it is one of the saddest moments in my SEO career. Ask.com is letting go of 40 employees and conceptually restructuring itself by moving away from mainstream search and focusing on question-related searches for their supposed primary audience “middle-American, predominantly female consumers.” Read more…

Today comScore released the search engine rankings for January 2008 and although the leaders of search are still holding strong to their positions Ask.com has experienced 20% growth! By far, ASK has shown the most significant improvement of all search properties. Furthermore when the report included all of the Ask Network the growth still trumped all other networks with 14.7% growth; the network includes other search properties such as MyWebSearch.com, Bloglines.com , etc.

After all was said and done Ask only had 477 million searches in comparison to Google’s 6,181, million searches… a substantial difference to put it mildly. That said, it is great to see growth at Ask because I see it as a vastly underrated search engine; it has evolved into a leader of Web 2.0 search. I was so impressed with Ask I determined it was well worth writing an article on How to Optimize for Ask. Read more…

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Friday, February 8th, 2008

Ask Expands Skin Ability

Ask LogoLast year Ask launched Ask3d, and with it came the ability to customize your Ask.com interface with a collection of skins. I personally have never customized a search engine interface using skins, but can certainly see the appeal it may bring to some web users.

Since it began allowing skins, Ask has received many requests for the ability to upload custom skins, and now they have included this feature.

Ask’s Official Blog has step by step instructions on how to customize your search using skins. I suspect that while this feature will appeal to many existing Ask users, it is probably unlikely to pull users from other engines to increase their market share. Nevertheless, it is nice to see a search engine that actually listens to its users.

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Thursday, December 13th, 2007

AskEraser Goes Live at Ask

The issues surrounding online privacy have been a hot topic on the web lately, and Ask.com has taken the concern a step further with the introduction of AskEraser.

Ask announced the launch on Tuesday in their official Blog. This new feature added to the Ask site provides control for the searcher over how their search activity data is handled. At any time users have the ability to turn on the service which will result in their search data being removed off the Ask servers within a number of hours. Information removed from their servers will include search terms, clicks, IP addresses, and any user or session IDs.

Using AskEraser could not be any simpler. When visiting Ask.com you will see an “AskEraser” link at the top right corner. Clicking this link will bring up a window explaining the service and provide you with a button to turn it on. Once on, the link at the top right will expand to offer you an on / off toggle.

AskEraser is all part of the move to expand the end user’s privacy. While it may be a smart move for Google to follow suit, I suspect this feature is one they may not move towards.

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Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Ask Launches Improved UK Maps

Yesterday Ask launched an improved version of UK Maps in a bid to get more users of the utility in the UK.

I am not too familiar with the pitfalls of version 1.0 but according to Ask’s press release the new system accounts for the US-english vs UK-english language barrier (i.e. an ‘exit’ on a motorway is considered a ‘junction’ in the UK). The other improvements included:

  • Receive driving directions for up to ten different destinations at one time. In other words, plan your driving route for an entire day of errands – pretty cool.
  • It now includes walking directions.
  • “Landmark Assistance” is included which, I presume, allows you to find your way to particularly popular points of interest; this would be quite handy on a holiday!
  • Subway stations are marked for those who wish to get around a little quicker.
  • Curious about how everything might look in a particular location? Try the satellite view which will give you a decent photo view of the surroundings.
  • Satellite shots are available for purchase on the fly… odd but okay.
  • If you search for any UK city within Ask Search you will be presented with a myriad of city details including hot spots, links to maps, tips, etc. Read more…
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Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Dogpile Outranks Google

J.D. Power and Associated rated Dogpile with the highest rank in customer satisfaction among search engines for the second year in a row.

Based on 1,000 points, Dogpile earned a score of 818 this year, up 14 points from 2006. Google fell in second at 794, with Ask filling in the top 3 at 784 points.

Dogpile users report that they are particularly satisfied with the limits placed upon paid advertising within search results.

This study is in its fourth year and looks at overall consumer behavior, experience and satisfaction within a number of search functions.

While Dogpile has a long way to go in the major search engine race, it is nice to see an underdog (no pun intended) holding its own against the major search engines.

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

How to Optimize for Ask

Ask’s portion of the search market is a mere 4.3% (src. Hitwise) so it is understandable that optimizing for Ask is a low priority in the eyes of many webmasters. That said, despite the company’s rather infamous advertising campaigns Ask has some incredible and unique features that I believe will slowly but surely steal search share from its more popular brethren. Consequently, it seems appropriate to provide some tips on how to optimize for Ask without sacrificing rankings on the other search engines. To that end the following instructions are supplementary to the recommendations provided in my “How to Optimize for Yahoo” article. Read more…

The latest figures from comScore are in and Microsoft is picking up speed.

While long standing search leader Google continues to dominate by a large margin, comScore reports Google losing some ground in June, while MSN saw a noticeable increase.

Latest figures for Google show a drop to 49.5%, down 1.2% from May. Yahoo also saw a decline of a little over a percentage point down 1.3 to 25.1%. Meanwhile Microsoft had a significant gain, up from its low 10.3 to a higher low of 13.2%. Ask remains unchanged at 5%.

In June Americans performed 8.0 billion online searches, which are up 6 percent from May, and up 26 percent from June 2006.

Interestingly enough, while both Google and Yahoo both saw a decrease in their percentage share for the month of June both search engines actually saw an increase in the actual number of searches conducted. With Microsoft’s nearly 3% jump, along with an increase in American searches, Microsoft experienced a spike in search volume up 36% over May, a substantial increase by any means.

Microsoft’s increase is partially credited to the introduction of the Live Search Club launched in late May, a program created to reward users of Live Search. Using their Windows Live ID and logging in to play games, and completing puzzles that involve searches users earn tickets which can then be redeemed for rewards.

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Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

How Safe is Your Search?

Roughly 4 percent of all search results display links to potentially dangerous websites, according to a report published by McAfee’s SiteAdvisor, on Monday. The report notes that Yahoo results are the riskiest with AOL leading the pack as having the safest results.

Over the past year, both organic and sponsored links have seen an increase in safety, however, the biggest change is seen within sponsored listings. On average the number of risky links declined from 8.5% in May 2006, to 6.9% in May of this year. Organic results saw a drop from 3.1% down to 2.9%. Read more…

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