Early Reports of Ask.com Testing Google Results in Core Web Search

Mar 5, 2008 • 6:59 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Ask.com - Ask Jeeves

A WebmasterWorld thread has one member spotting Google search results in the Ask.com web search results. textex, who has been a WebmasterWorld member since 2003 and I personally find to be a trusted forum informant said last night:

I am seeing Google results on Ask right now!

Unfortunately, he decided to quickly clear his cookies and reproduce the same results. When he cleared his cookies, he was no longer able to see it. He does not want to publicize the keyword phrase he used but he did say it did happen. I do believe him, even though the Ask.com PR team says it is not happening (not that I think they are lying, I just don't think they know.)

If you guys want to help out, please conduct some random searches on Ask.com and see if any of them match the Google search results. Make sure when searching in Google to be logged out and personalized search off. Also, when searching in Ask.com, I would test it in Internet Explorer on a PC. If you do see that the results match, please contact me at barry.schwartz AT gmail.com, attach a screen capture of the results, the browser type and version and your OS. I seriously want to have these cases documented if possible, it is one thing to go by someone's word and another thing to have a screen capture.

Why is this so important? Most of you know by now that IAC cut 8% of Ask.com and set out a new strategy for Ask.com, a strategy that in my opinion will kill the search engine as we know it today. I will write on this topic a little later, but removing Jim Lanzone, now Gary Price and 8% of Ask.com and then telling us they will focus on building out an engine for women who ask questions on health and entertainment - well - how can we take them as a serious Google competitor anymore, we can't.

Again, if you can please run some tests between Ask.com and Google and see if anything matches, it would be appreciated. This can be the first signs of proof that Ask.com is really thinking about dropping the search engine in favor for a lower cost syndication service with Google. This scenario is very possible, as paidContent.org suggests.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: Here is my post on Ask.com's announcement: Search Community Reaction to Ask.com New Search Strategy.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: March 4, 2008



03/05/2008 04:19 pm

Trying to please you idiots was why Lanzone wasted three years and millions of dollars to show no results. There is absolutely no way anyone was going to out-Google Google on search performance and features, and nobody in the world outside your bubble ever thought so. By focusing on their actual users -- a 58% bias towards women is a significant ADVANTAGE in monetization, not an embarassment as is assumed in so many of these posts -- they can actually grow share. Remember -- unlike Yahoo and MS, they only need to move the needle a little bit to be a huge success. If you don't realize that Safka's plan is the most plausible way to do that, you're just not a business person. (Which is fine, but don't pretend to be.) And by the way, as a woman, I like the idea of a search engine that's appropriate and useful for families. With no frickin' porn.

Barry Schwartz

03/05/2008 04:22 pm

Calling us idiots? Enjoy your search engine.


03/05/2008 04:34 pm

Okay, let me even clearer by posing the following question: Can you identify a single break-through feature in the past three years -- most of which you and the other search intelligentsia (eg. Danny Sullivan) applauded at the time as pioneering -- which resulted in a single gain in share? And, more importantly, any feature which Google would have any difficulty in reproducing *within days* if they wanted to? No, guess not. Know why? Because you don't gain share against the leader by agreeing that the leaders terms of reference are the appropriate ones for your customers. You focus on other ways and places to win. Want an example? Okay, recipe search. I use Google every day for recipe search; it's filled with crap. Want another? porn filters. I don't want to use a site that's helping pornographers make millions abusing women. Want another? actually useful search for health and nutrition. I have been an Ask user all along, and as you can tell I work in the industry, and have been frustrated by the fact that the Ask team always seem to take their cues from the people who used Google anyway, instead of those of us who used it as our main search engine. And, yes, by any standards, not listening to your core loyal customers is business idiocy. I hope that's over.


03/05/2008 04:46 pm

I think the disappointment with Ask.com's new focus is the question: how many re-branding campaigns can the public tolerate? They went from Askjeeves to just Ask. They put the butler out there, they took it away. They did kooky 'big brother is watching' you campaigns. I'm confused and I FOLLOW the industry. There are already family friendly and women focused search engines BTW LisaM. The GOOG listens and actually IMPLEMENTS what 'idiot' users and industry people ask for and what has that gotten them?


03/05/2008 04:48 pm

I want to reflect what Barry has said, you want your search engine, go enjoy your search engine. Ask hasn't given me a result set that really satisfied me in I don't know how long, and if they need to use Google Results, then fine, Yahoo did that for years, and AOL just gave up on trying. It's not to say that Ask is a terrible engine, I don't think it is, and I hope that they make better strides, but it's people, not the "search intelligentsia" that decide what search engine they will use.


03/05/2008 04:58 pm

Bitter much? I understand the the world of search and search engine optimization is frustrating, but taking out your frustrations by calling a whole group of people idiots (many of whom I like and respect very much) doesn't solve anything. I look at the search engines from an e-retailer point of view and wish that the search engines would just show relevant results. I think the change that Ask.com is making might benefit users and the sites they index as well. Nothing wrong with having a site aimed at women and or families. I like Ask.com's format but as an independent retailer myself in a world of big corporate competition, I understand their move to differentiate themselves - I think it's a wise choice. Plus, keep in mind, none of us "in the industry" are "normal or average search engine users" so it is hard for us to see search for what it is to that "average user". Just MHO.


03/05/2008 05:05 pm

Got it. So you're insulted -- fair enough -- but nobody could come up with a single example of a breakthrough feature that moved the needle for Ask against Google. That's what I thought. By the way, where is that major search engine that prioritizes features and concepts that families/women care about? I'd like to try it, but I don't think it exists. I'm not bitter at all! I'm delighted that somebody finally stopped listening to y'all. :)

Barry Schwartz

03/05/2008 05:08 pm

Ask 3D and the marketing behind it did help increase Ask.com's share from about 3.5% to 4.5% in a year.


03/05/2008 05:24 pm

I can't believe you really believe that Ask 3D had any effect at all. But if you do, well, that's interesting. :)

Barry Schwartz

03/05/2008 06:01 pm

Lisa, like I said, enjoy your search engine.


03/06/2008 03:22 am

hey mate... this one must impact you .... the proposal story for the grandkids will begin: There once was this search engine - and you point to an old logo.....

Jacques Snyman

03/06/2008 08:08 am

Ouch, seems nerves got touched here...like your comment, man from oz, I concur!

An Observer

04/03/2008 02:46 pm

I realize that I'm coming into this discussion about a month late, but Ask.com and Google results frequently overlap--especially if you're searching for something that's very current or in the news. Witnessing this for one search doesn't mean that they're testing Google results. If they were testing Google results, they wouldn't put them up on their main site; they'd have an interface and a bunch of focus groups and QA testers like they've always used. Personally, I don't think Ask will ever switch to Google. They'll sooner fade into oblivion like those other search engines that we (okay, I) used back in the 90s.


11/03/2010 05:58 pm

does ask.com use google or some other technology?

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