Meet the New Ask.com

Meet the New Ask.com
Chris Crum | Staff Writer

Q&A Injected Into the Search Experience Via the Web and the Community

We've known that Ask has been working on a new version of Ask.com for months, but now it's here. Ask is placing new emphasis on the Q&A side of search, and is injecting the Q&A experience directly into the main search experience, which is what SVP of Product Management Tony Gentile tells WebProNews, sets the new Ask apart from other Q&A sites.

Do you think Ask's Q&A-oriented approach is a good one? Leave a comment to let us know.

He says they've taken a hybrid approach, utilizing existing partnerships and new technology that's been refined over the last six to nine months, to build a new social Q&A experience that's built directly into Ask's search capabilities. When Ask doesn't immediately give you an answer (or the right answer), you can simply ask "the community."
We asked Gentile to tell us a little about who this community is. Initially, he says, they are using their existing employee base across IAC companies in a private beta. These employees are encouraged to invite their own families and friends to participate. Some journalists have been invited as well. Eventually this will expand. He says they will also implement technologies like Facebook Connect, Twitter, LinkedIn, OAuth, etc. to get users to bring in people from their own networks.

Also as a result of the social media aspect, he says profiles can lend credibility to answers. For example, if you answer a question and your LinkedIn profile is attached to it, that can show your experience in a field related to a question you have answered.

This is where the new Ask.com comes in as a potentially useful tool for businesses. Businesses may want to answer questions about products, and even create relationships with potential customers. An interesting nugget Gentile shared is that in analyzing the questions Ask receives, the majority of them are either related to "how do I spend my time?" or "how do I spend my money?"

Ask has the ability to work at the local level, as well. Gentile says they have the ability to analyze questions of both an implicit and an explicit local nature. For example, if someone asks, "what's the best burrito shop in San Francisco?", that's clearly a local question, and they can route it accordingly to people in and who have visited San Francisco.

Another type of local question, however, is something like "who's a babysitter I can trust?" That's also a local question, but it doesn't name a specific city. Ask says it has the ability to figure it out, and again, route accordingly. It calls upon signals in the user profiles. If a user gives permission, they will use location.
Here are the main features of the new Ask.com (as described by the company):

- Proprietary semantic search technologies: Finds the most relevant, quality answers across the Web, and displays them at the top of the page. No click-throughs required.

- The largest Q&A database on the Web: More than 500 million questions and answers indexed, and the ability to quickly extract Q&A pairs from hundreds of thousands of sources.

- Ask.com community: Leverages proprietary search categorization to route questions and solicit high-quality answers from community members based on their interests and areas of knowledge.

- New user interface: Improved UI makes it easy to ask and answer questions, highlights advancing and trending questions from the Ask community throughout the site.

What do you think of the new Ask.com? Let us know in the comments.

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Yahoo Now Including Bing Results - Tips for Optimizing

Yahoo Now Including Bing Results - Tips for Optimizing

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Retweet This! Bing SEO is More Important Than Ever

Yahoo has begun testing organic and paid search listings from Microsoft. Up to 25% of its search traffic in the U.S. may see organic listings from Microsoft, and up to 3.5% may see paid listings from Microsoft adCenter. I guess you could say that the early stages of the Search Alliance's transition have begun.

Will you place more emphasis on Bing optimization as it integrates with Yahoo Search? Let us know.

"The primary change for these tests is that the listings are coming from Microsoft," says Yahoo's VP of Search Product Operations, Kartik Ramakrishnan. "However, the overall page should look the same as the Yahoo! Search you're used to - with rich content and unique tools and features from Yahoo!. If you happen to fall into our tests, you might also notice some differences in how we're displaying select search results due to a variety of product configurations we are testing."

Yahoo provides the following example, in which the Microsoft-powered parts are represented by the boxes:

Yahoo provides the following example, in which the Microsoft-powered parts are represented by the boxes:

Yahoo Starts including Microsoft search results - paid and organic

As far as SEO is concerned, the Yahoo Search Marketing Team provides the following tips for organic search:
  1. Compare your organic search rankings on Yahoo! Search and Bing for the keywords that work best for you.
  2. Decide if you’d like to modify your paid search campaigns to compensate for any changes in organic referrals that you anticipate.
  3. Review the Bing webmaster tools and optimize your website for the Microsoft platform crawler, as Bing listings will be displayed for approximately 30% of search queries after this change, according to comScore.
Microsoft's Satya Nadella also says that "now is a good time for you to review your crawl policies in your robots.txt and ensure that you have identical polices for the msnbot/Bingbot and Yahoo’s bots. Just to note, you should not see an increase in bingbot traffic as a result of the transition."

The Bingbot is designed to crawl non-optimized sties more easily. The new Bingbot will replace the existing msnbot in October. More on this here.

Also note that the new Bing Webmaster Tools experience is live. This has been completely redone with a bunch of new features (and more features to come). Bing Webmaster Tools Senior Product Manager Anthony M. Garcia summarizes:

The redesigned Bing Webmaster Tools provide you a simplified, more intuitive experience focused on three key areas: crawl, index and traffic. New features, such as Index Explorer and Submit URLs, provide a more comprehensive view as well as better control over how Bing crawls and indexes your sites. Index Explorer gives you unprecedented access to browse through the Bing index in order to verify which of your directories and pages have been included. Submit URLs gives you the ability to signal which URLs Bing should add to the index. Other new features include: Crawl Issues to view details on redirects, malware, and exclusions encountered while crawling sites; and Block URLs to prevent specific URLs from appearing in Bing search engine results pages. In addition, the new tools take advantage of Microsoft Silverlight 4 to deliver rich charting functionality that will help you quickly analyze up to six months of crawling, indexing, and traffic data. That means more transparency and more control to help you make decisions, which optimize your sites for Bing.

WebProNews spoke with Janet Driscoll Miller of Search Mojo out at SMX a while back. She had presented on the topic of Bing SEO vs. Organic SEO. As she notes, some businesses actually see better results from Bing than they do from Google, and when Yahoo starts fully using Bing for search, Bing's share of the search market is going to grow dramatically (it also powers search in Facebook, let's not forget).

Google SEO vs. Bing SEO

Yahoo will be integrating Microsoft's mobile organic and paid listings in the U.S. and Canada in the coming months. The company anticipates that U.S. and Canada organic listings in both the desktop and mobile versions of its search will be fully powered by Microsoft as early as August or September. This of course depends on how the testing goes.

Yahoo and Microsoft have created new joint editorial guidelines for advertisers that will become effective in early August. These can be found here.

As we've discussed, Bing optimization is about to get more important, and now the time has come to really look at your Bing strategy if you've not already been doing so.

Are you prepared for the transition? Comment here.

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