Over 5 weeks no posts in the ASK forum. I am susprised at a forum of this calibre ASk doesnt participate. Didn't there used to be Googleguy, and Liveguy or somebody like that, maybe theres a Bing guy now, i dunno, but the last few threads have some great insight, and a bit of interactivity with a few webmasters communities wouldnt be bad. Especially read Martinibusters posts. It seems ASK had a chance, or may still to compete among the search engines. They really should listen to some of the suggestions and criticisms made in those threads.
-results were not bad but need lots of work (though the same could be said for Google, Yahoo and Bing)
-5 ads pushing results down, totally stinks
-Lean googlelike home page great
-Deals, not bad, has some appeal
ASK should consider moving the 5 top sponsored ads to the right where they have related searches and stop with the #1 result followed by 4 or 5 sponsored ads followed by more results. Yahoo,Google and Bing all do it too so obviously if the right side alone was generating enough revenue the other SE's wouldnt be doing the same thing with ads on top pushing everything below the fold, so maybe keep 2 ads on very top and 3 on the top right with related searches below that, so in effect framing the results with ads and related searches and possibly keeping a healthy CTR on those ads.
Jeeves had appeal but not to the younger visitors, maybe try that again but with a younger hip character to appeal to the younger crowd or someone that any age would like, perhaps rotating wildlife pics, but an image cutout like Jeeves was, not a background image.
I just checked Ask for one of my site's 'trophy phrase' and it's #1 with the prime competitor #3. Second and third competitor missing and a bit of related but geo-physically distant 'could be' competitors. Not detecting searcher's IP? When mine is looked up on publicly available IP data sets it's within 3 miles.
Adding the two letter us state code shuffles in more of the correct regional competitors. Still 2 results are from off continent. No one from that US state will drive there to buy!