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Ask Jeeves Serves It Your Way

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It's a busy day at Ask Jeeves with the announcement of several new services and enhancements, including the launch of a new personalized search tool and a major upgrade of the company's Teoma search engine.

Introducing My Jeeves

Today's most important announcement is the beta launch of My Jeeves, a new service that allows users to save and search a "personal web" database, similar to services offered by Spurl, Furl and others.

In this initial release of My Jeeves you're not able to search on the full text of saved pages. As of today, you can only search on the terms in the saved search "snippet" and any notes (another My Jeeves feature) you've added to the entry.

In addition to being able to search "saved" content you can also organize your saved material into folders. You're also able to save, organize, and search past queries. Currently, My Jeeves only allows pages from search results to be saved. Jim Lanzone, Ask Jeeves Senior Vice President of Search Properties, says that a toolbar and bookmarklet in the works will permit you to save content from somewhere other than a results page. He also tells us that very soon you'll also be able to keyword search the full text of "your" saved pages.

My Jeeves is a free service available to all web searchers. You don't need to register to use the service but if you do you'll have unlimited space to save pages and will be able to access your content from any computer.

It's not difficult to envision a time when this service will allow you to save, organize, share, collaborate, and search web pages and other file types from any web computer. According to Lanzone that time is not that far off.

Local Search Launched

Ask Jeeves Local beta also officially began life today. Ask Jeeves Local offers business and service listings, user ratings and other information from partner CitySearch. Users can access these local listings by searching at: http://web.ask.com/local. Local listings will also appear via a "Smart Search" box at the top of a web search results page.

For example, a search for Hair Salons Portland returns a box at top of the page with local listings for Portland, Oregon, a link to access more listings, hyperlinks to related categories, and the option to find listings for other cities with the name of Portland (for example Portland, ME) is also visible. Yahoo and Google offer something similar on web result pages but neither allow the searcher to switch locations.

I have been an admirer and user of Ask Jeeves' Smart Search technology since it launched over a year ago. I'm happy to see they're making more data available with this useful and potentially timesaving technology (See this page for more Smart Search shortcuts).

Jeeves also now provides local news powered by Topix.net. Local news will be available on the Ask Jeeves news site. To use it, simply enter a zip code.

Danny Sullivan notes that MSN actually experimented with a similar personalization service in Internet Explorer back in 1999. Read Danny's take on Personal Jeeves over in the Search Engine Watch blog.

Teoma Turns 3.0

Teoma, the standalone site and underlying search technology that powers Ask Jeeves has also been upgraded.

The Teoma database continues to grow in size (now over 2.5 billion English language pages). It's worth mentioning that Teoma does not count uncrawled pages in their total page count.

Additionally, Teoma is now refreshing their database with new or changed content from selected sites several times a day. The company plans to expand the number of sites included in this rapid recrawl/refresh cycle, though these will represent only a portion of its overall web index. PDF and Flash content is now being crawled and indexed.

Lanzone told me that sometime in the fourth quarter of this year Teoma will begin offering cached versions of pages. The company also plans to launch a desktop search product, likely based on Tukaroo, a desktop search company Ask Jeeves purchased in June.

The Butler Returns

Finally, the "missing" butler mascot which had been off on a public relations whirlwind world tour has returned home, in a noticably slimmed down format.

Many of the current and planned services the company is offering are not new in concept, but this is the first time we're seeing many of them from a major web search player. It's good to see these new efforts, and I hope they spur the competitive juices in Google and Yahoo to offer similar services.

Ask Jeeves continues to impress me a search tool and company. A few years ago Ask.com was an engine that I avoided, and I advised others to do the same.

However, this once ineffective and almost unusable search tool has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past few years, and I now use it on a regular basis. If you haven't used Ask Jeeves in a while it's time to take another look.

Want to discuss or comment on this story? Join the Jeeves Adds Personal Search Features discussion in the Search Engine Watch forums.

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