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Meet the New Ask.com

Q&A Injected Into the Search Experience Via the Web and the Community

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We’ve known that Ask has been working on a new version of Ask.com for months, but now it’s here. Ask is placing new emphasis on the Q&A side of search, and is injecting the Q&A experience directly into the main search experience, which is what SVP of Product Management Tony Gentile tells WebProNews, sets the new Ask apart from other Q&A sites.

He says they’ve taken a hybrid approach, utilizing existing partnerships and new technology that’s been refined over the last six to nine months, to build a new social Q&A experience that’s built directly into Ask’s search capabilities. When Ask doesn’t immediately give you an answer (or the right answer), you can simply ask "the community."

We asked Gentile to tell us a little about who this community is. Initially, he says, they are using their existing employee base across IAC companies in a private beta. These employees are encouraged to invite their own families and friends to participate. Some journalists have been invited as well. Eventually this will expand. He says they will also implement technologies like Facebook Connect, Twitter, LinkedIn, OAuth, etc. to get users to bring in people from their own networks.

Also as a result of the social media aspect, he says profiles can lend credibility to answers. For example, if you answer a question and your LinkedIn profile is attached to it, that can show your experience in a field related to a question you have answered.

This is where the new Ask.com comes in as a potentially useful tool for businesses.
Businesses may want to answer questions about products, and even create relationships with potential customers. An interesting nugget Gentile shared is that in analyzing the questions Ask receives, the majority of them are either related to "how do I spend my time?" or "how do I spend my money?"

New Ask.com - Focused on Q&A

Ask has the ability to work at the local level, as well. Gentile says they have the ability to analyze questions of both an implicit and an explicit local nature. For example, if someone asks, "what’s the best burrito shop in San Francisco?", that’s clearly a local question, and they can route it accordingly to people in and who have visited San Francisco.

Another type of local question, however, is something like "who’s a babysitter I can trust?" That’s also a local question, but it doesn’t name a specific city. Ask says it has the ability to figure it out, and again, route accordingly. It calls upon signals in the user profiles. If a user gives permission, they will use location.

Here are the main features of the new Ask.com (as described by the company):

- Proprietary semantic search technologies: Finds the most relevant, quality answers across the Web, and displays them at the top of the page. No click-throughs required.

- The largest Q&A database on the Web: More than 500 million questions and answers indexed, and the ability to quickly extract Q&A pairs from hundreds of thousands of sources.

- Ask.com community: Leverages proprietary search categorization to route questions and solicit high-quality answers from community members based on their interests and areas of knowledge.

- New user interface: Improved UI makes it easy to ask and answer questions, highlights advancing and trending questions from the Ask community throughout the site.

New Ask.com - Focused on Q&A

"Ask’s heritage has always been about answering questions – in fact, more people associate Ask with answering questions than any other brand in the world," says Ask.com U.S. President Doug Leeds. "As users continue to embrace the social Web, now is the perfect time to extend Ask’s technology beyond finding pages that have answers to finding people who do as well.  With 87 million monthly users and more than a decade of Q&A experience, Ask.com is uniquely positioned to answer the long tail of questions that are impossible for search engines alone to address."

It’s worth noting that Google purchased Aardvark not too long ago, which also calls upon a community to answer questions, but the company’s plans for the service are still somewhat unclear. It remains to be seen if that will become fully integrated with the search engine.

"As the Web becomes more conversational in nature, consumer expectations and the Web’s ability to meet those expectations are changing rapidly.  It has become natural for people to ask questions and receive answers online, and algorithmic search alone can only take that proposition so far,” says Allen Weiner, Research VP, Media Industry, Gartner Research.  "There is a huge market opportunity for companies who can get this right."

While they don’t have any specific announcements yet, Ask has a roadmap for new directions in which they plan to take the new Ask.com, in terms of social and mobile. These could be key elements in just how successful this relaunch is.

Meet the New Ask.com
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  • http://www.propdata.net Robert

    I loved the past clean look of ask.com. Fair enough, I might be the only one, but their move from that single search box to more of a portal look (like the dying Yahoo! or now gone MSN) is surely in the wrong direction.

    Lets hope their search continues to be the best for information.

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Tom Nolan

    I agree with Robert…not too sure on the look of it…interested to learn how all the new features will work out though…guess there’s only one way to find out…ask!

  • http://www.ukrbiz.info Viktor

    To be honest, I will not send my question to ASK, simply because spending about 20 minutes I have found nothing that would make me choose it; what I need is to find the correct information and find it fast; there for my personal experience tells me ask google.

    • Guest

      Yeah, fantastic for a close proximity nightmare!

  • Guest

    I would gladly try Ask if they can lose the ads.

    The results are good but who wants another advert network. We already have millions of web sites polluting the web with Ads by Google.

  • http://2gsm.biz Mark ‘MKWeb’ Hultgren

    Not too sure how well the Answers will be received when they start using journalists as the “response Community” with the spin that each one imparts on almost any topic. When I do a search I would like to see real answers not tilted left or right bias on the subject.
    In other words, if I ask “what is green?” I don’t need to see responses that tell me it is anything from yellow to blue. I would rather see an answer that states it is a mixture of Yellow and Blue colors. Or that it pertains to saving our ecology in positive veiws instead of someone ranting about how it is a left-wing fringe group that wants to get everyone involved in eradicating the harmful and poinsonous emissions that are killing us and the planet and eating fruits, nuts and vegetables instead of meat.

    I know, a little close to the ‘edge’ on that reply, but that is the ‘slanted’ answer you will usually get from a journalist that is biased on a specific topic.

    • Guest

      Well..that is what sells their stuff

  • http://www.macgadgetgal.com Mac Gadget Gal

    Perhaps this is a turning point for Ask.com. The planned Social and Knowledge Sharing features need to reward us by providing some sort of SEO value and back-link juice to contributor’s profiles at the very least.

    Ask’s biggest failure of years long-standing has been utterly neglecting the SEO community: No tools other than a blind Site Map submission; no ranking criteria, no guidelines, no nothin’ to make us even care. And their market-share has suffered as a result.

    They need more than the brief blip of PR buzz over a redesign and makeover. They need us – the content creators, marketers and promoter’s FIGHTING for the chance to be seen in results. They need us more than ever for Ask.com to remain relevant. They ought to be knocking themselves out to get the focused attention and participation of the SEO community — and traffic, glorious traffic is what they’ll get in return…

  • http://parsonsmarketing.net Danielle Parsons

    The new Ask home page is user friendly. I started using Ask Jeeves when I was earning my Bachelor’s degree in college. Google was just getting started then.

    • GuestMK

      Well I don’t have any degree in anything…but shoo I would just LOVE to have someone just to advise me a little in simple terms how to get ranked a BIT on google or any site…as I don’t have a clue?tnxmk

  • http://www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz/ Dion

    Maybe it will now stand out as offering something useful that the more successful search engines don

  • http://topsavings.net Aaron Siegel

    Although it isn’t the biggest engine, I realized how the Q&A results were coming in. Simply write an article within your blog or Ezinearticles.com and make the title a question with the “?” at the end of the title of course. Seems they are indexing private pages as well as networks (Ask.com, WikiAnswers, etc.

  • http://www.ivory-design.com Steve Derby

    I also have to agree with the previous comments. If they are following a similar web design as Yahoo, I won’t be using them. I hate that cluttered portal look.

  • http://elijahmarks.com Elijah Seo Expert

    It is a good idea to try to publish questions and answers, especially if they can figure out the exact questions people are asking. I find google, yahoo and bing are still tweaking their SE’s. I think people go to google all the time and type questions into the search field, but unless someone is looking for something specific and put it in quotes, I dont think all those stop words will be indexed
    and they will have to key in on so many keywords to be able to get google matches, it will be difficult. And to top it off no one really uses ask.com anyways do they? I do a huge volumne of searches and I dont see any ask.com matches coming up.

  • http://www.custom-web-design.co.za Martin

    Even if they are upgrading their search policies, I would still not use it- for the simple reason that it forces itself into browsers and is a hateful process to get rid of. Unless it cleans up it’s image as Adware I will stay as far away from it as I can and advise my friends to do the same.

  • http://www.sharonhod.com Sharon Hod

    I type the question on Ask.com
    ” What the Best Search Engine? ”
    The first link I received (even above the sponsored links):
    http://answers.ask.com/Computers/Internet/what_the_best_search_engine

    That was the answer:
    Glad you asked…
    Google is considered to be best search engine. It provides detailed search results very quickly. It shows most relevant searches at top.

    LOL :-)

  • http://www.speedylimousine.com Pearson Toronto

    Ask’s biggest failure of years long-standing has been utterly neglecting the SEO community: No tools other than a blind Site Map submission; no ranking criteria, no guidelines, no nothin’ to make us even care. And their market-share has suffered as a result.

  • http://www.image-designfurniture.com Guest

    It seems to be that all the search engines are rapidly changing the way they gather info. I can respect anyone who wants to imporve on an idea. It is better than being stagnat. Imagine if we all still drove the first Model A cars?

    However, from a person who is 3 years new to the SEO industry, I have to say that too many changes seem to be entirely frustrating. I like to know what I can expect and not expect from each search engine. directory or querri. I want to know what works and what does not. We don’t need a dozen search engines competeing for the same thing. If they each can find a unique “niche” that sets them apart from eachother they would really have something.

  • http://surf-find.net Guest

    I will stay as far away from it as I can and advise my friends to do the same.

    Best regards

  • Guest

    Ask is a group of computer criminals!

  • Anne

    I want to get ask.com to stop billing me $15 a month every month. I don’t

    even use their services.

    Anne

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