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Ask.com Expands Semantic Search Technology




By Peter Young

Given the recent improvements announced by Google it should come as no surprise that another search engine has recently announced a raft of improvements to their search experience. This time it’s Ask.com who have announced a number of advances to their semantic search technology.

With semantic search one of the key search battlegrounds over the next couple of years, Ask introduced a couple of new semantic technologies namely DADS(SM) (Direct Answers from Databases), DAFS(SM) (Direct Answers from Search), and AnswerFarm(SM) aimed at breaking new ground in the areas of semantic, web text and answer farm search back in October 2008.

According to Erik Collier, vice president of product management at Ask, the Ask technology is unique because it enables web surfers to type real questions, instead of a series of keywords. When interviewed by TechNewsWorld back in June 2008, he went on to say

To find out what football games are on the TV Sunday afternoon, users simply type in, for instance, “What NFL games are on TV this Sunday?”

That is where DADS comes in. The acronym stands for “Direct Answers from Databases.” The technology takes structured data feeds and converts them into information that Ask.com tags.

“It’s different than a traditional syntactical text matching. We’re understanding what the subject is, so we have discrete subjects. We’re talking about TV listings, event listings that have a much smaller semantic breath than a general word search. We optimized that, and it is discrete. We are able to identify that as a TV query; translate the different piece[s] of your sentence into what they really mean.”

Initial trials of this have mainly centered around TV listings. Further to this Ask.com have now expanded trials into NASCAR related information—chosen because of the significant buzz that is generated around the sport—particularly of structured data—something which is central to the new Ask technologies.

Ask.com Semantic Nascar results

Whilst integration of this technology is currently limited, it certainly shows a level of innovation sometimes lacking from some of Ask’s competitors. On a personal level I am not sure this is going to lift Ask above competitors such as Google, Yahoo and MSN in the short term, however it is certainly indicative of an ongoing commitment to search, which is often in doubt.

Peter Young is a UK search marketing Manager for MVi in Manchester as well as regular contributor to the Holistic Search blog.

  • http://www.velvetblues.com Shirley

    Funny. For some reason I thought that the people behind Ask were going to bow out gracefully and get out of search. But I suppose they do offer something that many search engines do not. Although, I have noticed that sometimes Google does answer questions for some unique queries.

    I wonder what Ask’s market share is…

    Shirley’s last blog post..Google Maps’ Street View Helps Fight Crime!

  • http://www.saadkamal.com Saad Kamal

    Google has recently mentioned that they are doing some semantic stuffs too. But the funny thing is none of the source pages had any tags that would enable them to process the data.

    I am yet to see how Ask.com is doing it. I’ll check it out later tonight.

    Saad Kamal’s last blog post..Dell.com is Buying Paid Links

  • http://quilmesverano.tv Quilmes Verano

    It appears that everyone is into semantics nowadays. Google is also looking into this lately…

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    Ask is a useful SE and I am glad that they are improving rather than throw in the towel. This is the advantage when the market leader keeps innovating.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..New Year Resolutions to Help You Save Money

  • http://www.seoresults.co.za/pages/seo-tools/ Jacques Seoman

    At least somebody else, apart from Google, has new stuff to talk about in the world of search technology…..the direct question comes much more naturally to people than keywords and keyword phrases.

  • http://www.rnbhaven.com R&B Love Songs

    It’s funny that they’re new features allow people to search using questions, when I always viewed that as the basic premise of Ask anyway.

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  • http://www.paystolivegreen.com Patrick

    It’s great to see that Ask is still trying to compete with Google, but I don’t think they have much of a chance. In terms of technology, Cuil is probably the only search engine out there that can really compete with Google.

    Patrick’s last blog post..Are We Eating Too Much Meat?

  • http://8disk.net Silvia

    Competition is encouraged in the world of technology in the name of mankind.

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  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/utah-seo-pro-blog/ Utah SEO Pro

    Good for them but they have a lot of catching up to do to Hakia and everyone else.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..An Interview with Utah SEO Pro (Jordan Kasteler) by Martin Bowling

  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Web Design

    I like that.. “DADS” heh heh.. very cool..
    Finally the world can have a patriach to whom they really can go for all their answers

  • http://www.types-of-flowers.org/ Lily Bent

    DADS and DAFS are great technologies indeed as it is more convenient to write direct questions than try to get the proper key words. Well done, Ask.com!

  • http://www.goodies4free.net Wii

    I don’t really know much about the technologies involved but anything that will help to put a little bit more competition in the market can only be a good thing

  • http://www.thewhitehatter.com John

    when they can catch up on other search engine? But I am happy that they are finally stepping up for the company to overpass other search.

    John’s last blog post..Busby SEO Test the hard way

  • http://www.dataflurry.com DF Marketing SEO

    Interesting, I am going to check out Ask’s new technology, sounds like some neat ideas and creativity taking place over there

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