Jim Lanzone Says Teoma is Very Important to Ask Jeeves

Dec 30, 2004 - 9:04 am 0 by
Filed Under Ask.com

Yesterday, I ask for help to start of a thread on Ask Jeeves named The Little Engine That Could. I could not have received a better response, and thank you all who have participated.

The thread is about exploring Ask Jeeves weaknesses from the SEM's perspective. We are not talking about spam issues, although Mike Grehan did show one example. We are talking about, what will it take to encourage Ask Jeeves to really take Teoma to the battle lines and stand face to face with Google, Yahoo and MSN. Let me first summarize some of the responses by those who kicked off the thread and then note some of the points in Jim Lanzone (Senior Vice President, Ask Search Properties) reply.

Andrew Goodman was the first to reply to the thread, and a single quote can sum up his point.

If Ask Jeeves doesn't do anything related to the natural-language question-answering they promised to pioneer when they launched, then the whole enterprise degenerates into a debate amongst top management and a succession of ad agencies about the relative importance of the butler.

Ammon Johns who goes under the name "Black_Knight" at the forums was next up. Just to note, Ammon is one of those SEO individuals that I deeply respect and look up to. Ammon feels that they are the "The saddest waste I've ever seen in search."

But, the desperation for cash that hit so many dot-com boomers hit this. Rather than let Teoma grow as it should, Ask insisted on tethering it by trying to turn into a pay-for-indexing engine. This was an unforgivable error of judgement, and in my opinion, is definitely responsible for Teoma not taking Google's place as the top engine in 2001/2002. Teoma had the technology, but had no pilot with the faith and vision.

Danny Sullivan followed, he played the devil's advocate by saying they have done great things with shortcuts. In addition he put things a bit in perspective with this little comment.

Let's play "Where's Lycos" to see what they've avoided.

Ian McAnerin noted that he was getting fed up with the Teoma results that seemed to be getting worse and worse as time goes by. He said;

unless they make some significant changes soon, starting with increasing their index of real sites and throwing out duplicates, they are in serious trouble.

Mike Grehan an other SEO individual I deeply respect (I respect the others as well), added some of his personal discussion with the Ask Jeeves people as well as some criticism.

There's a whole lot of stuff going on technology wise at Teoma. In my opinion Apostolos Gerasoulis, the brain behind the Teoma algorithm took their search technology to a point where Google was following them for a while. Not the other way around... Having said that, they are quite susceptible to being knocked sideways every now and again as they get their somewhat smaller indexed pummelled with millions of spammy networks.

Mikkel deMib Svendsen who is one of the most well known SEM specialists in the International community adds his frustration with Teoma and its lack of support for international languages.

I have never personally used Teoma/Ask Jeves much because it has been so english focused. I work in several languages and need an engine that can return good results in them all - Google does that, Inktomi does that to some degree and we expect MSN to do that too. Teomo/AskJeves dosn't.

Nacho Hernandez the leading SEM expert for the Hispanic marketplace chimes in as well. Nacho notes how Ask is targeting the younger (K - 12) crowd with creative tools, and that will make the difference in the long run.

The Big 3 have grown due to popularity, features from its portal or even being driving traffic from the default homepage on just about every new computer with IE as the browser of choice. HOWEVER, creative concepts

Then we have Jim Lanzone the Senior Vice President, Ask Search Properties post a reply. In his reply he addresses many of the points addressed in the thread. I believe he left out the language support issues, sorry Mikkel and I,Brian. However he does explain that Teoma has been Ask Jeeves's "biggest investment". I pulled that slightly out of context, here is the full context; "Since then, our company´┐Żs biggest investment in new people has, by far, been in those working directly on the engine, which is now well into triple digits."

He ends off asking for advice, so lets give it to him and Ask. I for one, really do want to see Ask Jeeves step up and stare down Google, Yahoo and MSN. Teoma is unique, we all talk about it, Ask presents on it at every SES conference. Now its time for them to step up to the plate and make a statement to the SEM community that they are serious about Teoma. Jim does say in his reply that he is aware of the cannibalization of the Teoma results at Ask Jeeves by Google AdWords. He goes on to explain that Ask is a public company and he can't talk publicly about it, but he drops one line that gives us hope.

Give us some time and we'll find the right balance here.


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