Ask Jeeves Assimilates Teoma Search Engine

Ask Jeeves now offers search results powered by Teoma, the search engine that acquired in September 2001. In addition to Jeeves' familiar results that feature a list of questions and sponsored links, Teoma search results are featured under the heading "You may find my search results helpful."

Teoma results replace those formerly provided by Direct Hit, another Ask Jeeves property. Teoma results were quietly introduced on the site on December 18th, and users have apparently liked what they've seen.

Since introducing Teoma results, Ask Jeeves has seen a 25 percent increase in the number of times a user selects a search result on the results page, according to Steve Berkowitz, president of Ask Jeeves Web Properties. Site abandonment has also decreased by 15 percent.

Teoma calculates relevance using link analysis to identify "communities" on the web, and then determines which sites are the authorities within those communities to find the best pages. It's similar to the way Google works, but with some important differences. Briefly, whereas Google uses the collective wisdom of the entire web to determine relevance, Teoma tries to identify "local" authorities to help identify the best pages for a particular topic.

Examining same subject pages that reference a site to determine its level of authority in addition to relevance is referred to by the company as Subject-Specific Popularity.

Since its acquisition by Ask Jeeves, Teoma has increased the size of its index to 150 million documents. While this may seem like a small number compared to the billions of pages claimed by Google, the company has a different take on whether biggest is actually best.

"We think that we're going to get to a point where we've gone to the outer limits of the web and have built a base of information to be able to answer every query satisfactorily," said Paul Gardi, vice president of search, Ask Jeeves. "Our goal is to build the dataset up until the point where we're completely satisfied that we can answer every query."

What size web index will allow Teoma to achieve this goal? "We actually don't know what the upper bound is," said Gardi. "We think that there's a point where you've stopped finding useful information and you're crawling for the sake of crawling."

Not all Teoma features have been integrated into Ask Jeeves. The company continues to maintain the Teoma search engine as a separate site, and plans to move it out of beta some time in the second quarter. Despite using the same index, results will be different on the Ask Jeeves and Teoma sites.

As a searcher, which site should you use?

"When you ask people whether they come to to search or ask questions, they say to ask questions," said Berkowitz. "We see that there are many different types of users that like different ways to get information."

This means that if you like the question and answer approach offered by Ask Jeeves, you should continue to use it, and take advantage of the additional Teoma results when you find them useful.

If you are a relatively skilled searcher, your best bet will likely be using Teoma directly rather than Ask Jeeves. The reason is that queries are pre-processed by Ask Jeeves before being sent to Teoma, and results served at Ask Jeeves are filtered for adult content.

"The goal ultimately is to say that is the place to go for the driver searcher, the person who wants to get the best information quickly and cleanly," said Berkowitz.

Ask Jeeves


Make Room For Teoma
The Search Engine Report, July 2, 2001

After the loss of Go earlier this year and the expected departure of NBCi, you might have thought it was all over in the search engine game. However, just as consolidation seemed inevitable, new player Teoma has stepped up with an impressive debut of its new search service.

Yahoo Goes Espotting in Europe

Yahoo announced a pan-European alliance with Espotting Media to launch Yahoo Sponsored Matches, an enhanced placement program that allows Espotting to feature its top five Pay-Per-Click search listings on Yahoo's search results pages.

The deal, similar to one with pay-per-click provider Overture in the U.S., is expected to power 2.5 billion search requests a year across five territories - the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Yahoo UK & Ireland alliance with Espotting Media

Danny Sullivan will be taking a closer look at both the integration of Ask Jeeves and Teoma, and the implications of the Yahoo/Espotting deal in upcoming issues of the Search Engine Report. To ensure you get his review and analysis, make sure you have signed up for your free subscription at

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.