Ask Jeeves Adds Search Shortcuts, Site Preview Option

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Ask Jeeves rolls out new search shortcuts and a site-preview tool today as it aims to offer itself as a credible search alternative to Yahoo and Google.


The Emeryville, CA, search engine added nearly a dozen shortcuts, designed to give searchers answers instead of Web pages with its Smart Search tools. One shortcut provides a real-time update on the terror alert level from the Department of Homeland Security in response to a search for "terror alert level." Another links directly to the Federal Trade Commission's national no-call registry when a user queries "do not call." In all, Ask Jeeves offers more than 150 Smart Searches for everything from weather to movies to wedding registries.


"We're innovating and taking search beyond the 10 blue link experience," said Daniel Read, director of product at Ask Jeeves.


Smart Searches are a way for Ask Jeeves to combine structured data with unstructured Web data. Some Smart Searches, such as the terror alert, are done editorially while many are implemented through content partnerships. Ask Jeeves turns to RottenTomatoes.com for movie reviews, for example, and GasBuddy.com and GasPrice.com for local gas price information. Ask Jeeves expects to launch another 50 Smart Searches in the coming months.


Ask Jeeves also is testing a Web site preview tool that lets searchers get a thumbnail preview of a site from the search results page when they mouse over a binoculars icon. The internally developed tool is similar to what Viewpoint offers in its search toolbar.


Ask Jeeves said the previews would help searchers find what they are looking for faster. A study commissioned from Lionbridge's VeriTest division found that the tool helped reduce the number of clicks required to find relevant results by 50 percent to 70 percent per search.


Ask Jeeves is banking on drawing searchers by giving them a different experience than Google or Yahoo. With its Teoma Web search technology, Ask Jeeves is the only major search engine other than Google and Yahoo to have its own algorithmic search capability.


Google and Yahoo also offer search shortcuts. For example, Yahoo has more than two dozen shortcuts for flight status, weather, maps and other information. Google's Search by Number gives direct answers to searches for UPC codes, patents and package tracking, among other information. Google also provides maps, travel information and stock quotes.


Despite some similar features, Read said Ask Jeeves offers a more intuitive search experience thanks to its combination of Teoma and its own natural-language search roots.


"We believe we do that the best in the market," he said.


For example, a search for "Dodgeball" on Ask Jeeves yields a box with a short synopsis of the new Ben Stiller movie and options for reviews, the official site, a trailer and the ability to search for show times through newly acquired Ask Jeeves portal property My Way. The same search on Yahoo returns options for trailers and photos, along with Web search results. A Google search yields news stories and Web search results.


Though Google remains a clear leader in the search market, recent research suggested its lead is vulnerable. A study by market researcher Vividence found searchers got comparably relevant results to sample searches from Ask Jeeves, Yahoo and Google.


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