Overhype

by Joseph Weisenthal




The Algorithm Is A Disappointment

from the may-we-ask-why? dept

There's a lot of discussion today about the newly revamped Ask.com, which remains in the unenviable #4 spot in terms of search market share. Basically, the site seems to have sharpened up its interface a little bit, while incorporating things like news and images into its results page. Additionally, the site offers suggested refinement searches, so if you search for "Sopranos", it'll show you a link where you can get results for "Sopranos Merchandise". All of this is fairly inoffensive, but it's really hard to see how this is going to move the dial at all. Despite the company's insistence that it has developed "A Truly New Way to Search", the whole thing looks like a spin on Google's recently announced universal search strategy, which involves incorporating more types of media into its results. The look and feel is a tad different, but so what? Even if the new Ask.com returns "better" results than Google in some instances, there's nothing here that will actually get people to switch. Right now, the company is making a big effort to explain why the new changes are cool, but most people giving the site a try won't have the benefit of someone explaining to them why the site is now so great. As such, they probably won't see it themselves.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2007 @ 11:06am

    Yawn

    I still prefer old google... I want to type exactly what I want to search for. If I make on overly broad statement, give me a ton of results. If I can't make a coherent search, don't give me any results. Don't bombard me with crap I don't care about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dr Grammar, 5 Jun 2007 @ 11:15am

    Paragraphs please.

    Organize your thoughts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Witty Nickname, 5 Jun 2007 @ 11:23am

    Not just a search engine

    Don't give me just a great search engine and expect me to use it.

    Before I switch I will need e-mail as advanced or more than gmail, and a personalized homepage like iGoogle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      erinol0, 5 Jun 2007 @ 11:46am

      Re: Not just a search engine

      ...and yet everyone switched from yahoo to google when google didn't offer any of those other features like email or a homepage and yahoo had email, "my yahoo", and geocities. The switching cost was low enough for people to switch in spite of all the other features that yahoo had.

      If Ask.com really was better, and people were convinced of that, people would switch regardless of the features.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2007 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Not just a search engine

    No, people switched from yahoo to google because they were tired of big, busy web pages full of flashing crap they didn't care about.

    Google was clean, simple, and had very unobtrusive advertising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    phazed, 5 Jun 2007 @ 11:55am

    um, duh

    News travels fast around here! Ask.com has been spamming our airwaves for months now with their lame commercials. Ask.com understands concepts? It can't even tell me what to give my sister for her baby shower without a dozen irrelevant links to shopping for baby items.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bmac (profile), 5 Jun 2007 @ 12:29pm

    Google is still best

    The only thing they don't have handy is their own Yellow Pages search portal. I use Google pretty much exclusively, but for Yellow Pages searches, it's yp.yahoo.com every time.

    I'm really surprised they haven't stepped in to make that better than everyone else, but they do have a lot of projects to handle while also providing the best web search tool around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The infamous Joe, 5 Jun 2007 @ 12:56pm

    Google is a verb.

    Google *does* do yellow pages. Just preface your search with 'phonebook:' without the quotes. (phonebook: Smith, J Orlando, Fl.)

    Find out more here.

    Also, you can try out Google's new timeline and map features by following your search with 'view:timeline' or 'view:map'. (again, without quotes) (volcanoes view:map or einstein view:timeline)

    It's all pretty swell, if you ask me.

    PS- Ask dot com commercials suck. It seems like they're trying to be funny, and failing in such a way that the failure isn't even funny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    haywood, 5 Jun 2007 @ 2:48pm

    I think it is the integration

    I think it is the integration of services that makes me a Googleer. I love the Google toolbar, won't surf without it Google spell check is my best friend. I love the Google homepage, the links part means I seldom use my bookmarks or favorites, the email part makes it easy to spot new mail. The way they all work together is poetry in motion, total browser integration. If they hadn't screwed up Google groups, I wouldn't have a bad word to say about them

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    charlybird, 5 Jun 2007 @ 3:41pm

    Its all about the quality of the search results

    The migration to Google Search from Yahoo was due to the quality of the search results, not the add ons. The original success of yahoo was based on there edited lists of links to sites that provided, either the actual content, or an index of information related to the inquiry. This was useful but limited in scope and expensive to maintain. Google succeeded, becaused it was a hybrid of directed content based on user actions and Google editing/marketing/advertising. So if Ask.com is going to offer competition, it has to provide search results that have a noticable quality advantage over its competitors.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jan Bannister, 6 Jun 2007 @ 2:13am

    Too many Ads

    What really gets me is the number of ads that Ask shows after failing to find what I'm looking for.

    As many inappropriate sponsored links as organic results is too mach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steven, 8 Jun 2007 @ 10:32pm

    Fewer ads than others

    Jan, what I see is that Ask has fewer ads than any of the other big search engines. I search e.g. for "car insurance", a heavily advertised search:

    On Ask I get 3 ads on top + 6 on bottom = 9 total.
    Google: 3 on top + 8 ads on right side = 11 total
    Yahoo: 4 on top + 8 ads on right side = 12 total

    And Ask has stuff on the right that might actually be usefull, rather than ads like all the others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jimbot, 14 Jun 2007 @ 3:53am

    Maybe ask deserves to be #3 over MSN (who can't figure out simple 301 redirects) but don't see them as a threat to google.
    I think that what will finally topple google will be an 'application' rather than another SE website. But that might be years down the road, or never...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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