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For starters, I'll say that the people in this forum have always been great about supporting our efforts to offer choice in the market with our site and engine. So I would also argue with the word "antagonistic," as Brett did. On the other hand, there do seem to be a number of conspiracy theories in this thread. I'll try to set the record straight on a few of them.
First, the 25% reach number was taken out of context by the writer of the article first posted by Muscle13. The number cited by Michael Palka on the Toronto panel was as follows: 25% is the total reach of the search sites that, at the time, licensed our Teoma search technology (Infospace, etc) or used it (including Ask.com), collectively. Since that May conference, that number has actually grown thanks to our acquisition of ISH properties. Ask Jeeves, Inc.
is now the 7th ranked property on the Web overall. While we hope that translates into more search market share over time, in the United States our company share is currently estimated to be only 7-8%, though it is growing, especially on Ask.com. Ask.com now receives over 20 million unique users each month.
As for why some sites get more traffic from us than others, there could be any number of reasons. In the U.K. there is a different site layout today on Ask.co.uk that could account for different traffic levels sent to people in various categories. As of today, we only operate sites in the U.S. and U.K., though over time we will be expanding internationally.
From speculation about our marketing methods, to theories about Ask Jeeves' "mistreatment" of the Teoma technology, it's worth pointing out that we are a very different company than we were in 1998-2001.
First, one really should not make a distiction these days between Ask and Teoma as entities. Teoma had fewer than 10 employees when it was acquired in Sept '01, and both the search group and the technology have grown with Ask as the company has experienced its turnaround. If you are a user of Ask.com or Teoma.com, I think you'll agree that the Teoma engine has come a long way since 2001 and is now at a world-class level.
Secondly, we are not a marketing driven company the way we were in the "old days", when admittedly the Ask.com site was not up to par and they received a lot of flak for it. Even when we have marketed recently, however, the total has been very low, especially relative to Yahoo's marketing. Our growth is mainly coming from word of mouth.
Regarding the number of ads above the search results on Ask.com, we have taken the approach that when a query is commercial, rather than polluting the editorial index or playing it both ways with ads at the top *and* on the side, we prefer to show more ads on top, clearly marked. In those instances, they should be relevant. In the future you'll see us head even more towards this approach, to the benefit of the vast majority of other results pages, which are non-commercial. In contrast to recent comments I've seen, we have not, in fact, expanded the number of ads on our page recently. Our methodology has been the same for nearly 18 months. The only difference may be that the number of advertisers in the Google AdWords program has expanded.
As for the biggest mystery of this thread: who is Muscle13? Heck if we know. As a public company we are not allowed to pump the stock that way, and I am the only permitted spokesperson of our company on WebmasterWorld. We appreciate the support though, whoever it is. Also, who would pump a stock on WebmasterWorld? :)
Hope this is helpful. In general, people should know that we at AJ are working our tails off to compete in this market. Our desire is not necessarily to be the biggest, but to be the best, and we think that given our assets we can get there. The more people who support us, the more dynamic the search market will be going forward.
Most people on the board (and I'm not an advertiser so can't voice on opinion on this) are saying their anecdotal data points to <1% for that figure.
As you say, I *do* want more than just Google & Overture as an option for my advertisers, but whether it's worth the time or not is somewhat a function of whether non-Google ASKJ/ISH is more like <1% or more like 2-3% as you say. I just think it would behoove ASKJ to render fully transparent their search statistics.
I am rooting for AKSJ/ISH, though, just as I am rooting for FWHT; a two-party system does not an open market make.
Most publicly available analyst estimates have Ask Jeeves with 3-4% of domestic searches in the US. When we acquired ISH, they had roughly the same number of searches collectively, throughout their properties, as Ask.com did. Combined, they should be in the 7-8% range. (Remember that some of those sites are metasearch today. It's not traffic that is necessarily coming from Ask or Teoma.) Also, almost all of our traffic is US based, which differs from sites like Google.com which have more than half from outside the US.
I am not sure where you get the impression that 65% of clicks on our site go into the Google AdWords. Even when we show a lot of ads, those queries represent just a sliver of our overall query stream.
65% is nowhere close, even on pages where they appear, let alone pages that do not. We do get a higher average click rate on those ads than a site does that runs ads on the "right rail", but you are definitely overestimating the click volume that is "usurped" by AdWords on Ask.com. I'm sorry that I can't be more specific than that, but I want to make sure people know that this line of reasoning is offbase.
As for why some people in this thread, including you, are seeing less than 1% of their traffic from us, I don't know. I am not sure if your site is US based or international, or is in a category like "viagra"
which is ad heavy, or are not ranked high for popular queries, or perhaps the Frame (which we are in the process of removing) is blocking some people's ability to gauge traffic from us. To be honest, I do not know.
Lastly, as for making our statistics transparent, as far as I know we're the only search engine that tells the public a specific number of searches we get each month or quarter. You don't get that from Google or Yahoo or anyone else for that matter. We are by far the most transparent engine out there. If you are receiving less traffic from us than others, then you just are. For other people it might be different.
Either way, we really appreciate that you're rooting for us. We don't take it for granted and promise to make you proud in the months to come.
...or perhaps the Frame (which we are in the process of removing) is blocking some people's ability to gauge traffic from us.
Yes. I've been bugging Paul about that every time I run into him. It's a great move and I applaud it heartily.
Woo-hoo! Go Jeeves!
I really like Jeeves' search methodology, appreciate the technology behind it, and I (like many other webmasters) wholeheartedly welcome an alternative choice. Ask Jeeves serves a great demographic [static.wc.ask.com], has neat technology like the "Natural Language Questions Clustering Tool [webmasterworld.com]," plus the recent Tuckaroo purchase and the ad serving potential (combined with the Max Online [maxonline.com] acquisition), position Ask Jeeves as one of the most exciting search engines out there. :) Woo-hoo! Go Jeeves!
No traffic? No loving.
Nevertheless, as webmasters, we are still experiencing the phenomenon of minimal referrals from AJ- unless we advertise on AdWords. This has a negative impact on referrals, which impacts how we feel about Ask Jeeves. No traffic: No loving. :(
I have one website that is about a popular hobby (especially popular with women, a key Jeeves demographic). So far this month it has received XXk visitors from Google, and Zero from Ask Jeeves (124 from iwon, and 2 from excite). Even though for a popular search phrase my site occupies three positions in the top 5 in AJ, my logs still show Zero.
Is it the frame that is masking referrals? Or is it the ten AdWords ads preceding many results? I'm sure you can appreciate how a webmaster might feel (at best) indifferent about Ask Jeeves.
We are rooting for you
JeevesGuy, I'm glad you're stopping by. It's a good step toward rehabilitating the relationship between the webmaster and AJ, a relationship that can be beneficial for the both of us. What webmaster (or competitive search engine) would not applaud a dynamic alternative?
Appreciate the clarification on all matters that you have addressed.
Who is Muscle13? Don't know - though i spotted him a couple of months ago and every post, as far as i am aware is AJ/Teoma Centric - Go figure!
Some direct questions, if i may!
1. Does AJ plan to at any point role out its own advertising system (blow out G)?
2. Has AJ any plans of growing its index of pages - to a comparable size of other bigger engines?
3. Noticing one of comments about the different approaches utilised between ask.co.uk and ask.com, which one are the techs at AJ finding more successful, in unique's proportional to online national searches?
Why would anyone waste their time on SE, that can't find new popular Web Site in 3 months? I think these 25% are a joke.
AJ has grown its index significantly in the past few quarters and is constantly expanding its coverage of the web. Size is not the only thing when it comes to indexing pages on the web--the quality of content matters, and we are quite sensitive to maintaining a high quality index.
Also remember that nearly our entire index is made up of English-language pages, so a comparison to the other two major engines would be comparing apples and oranges.
If you are a user of Ask.com or Teoma.com, I think you'll agree that the Teoma engine has come a long way since 2001 and is now at a world-class level.
Not quite! How about more frequent crawls and updates of the index, especially as you are ending all PFI options?
Regarding the number of ads above the search results on Ask.com, we have taken the approach that when a query is commercial, rather than polluting the editorial index or playing it both ways with ads at the top *and* on the side, we prefer to show more ads on top, clearly marked. In those instances, they should be relevant. In the future you'll see us head even more towards this approach, to the benefit of the vast majority of other results pages, which are non-commercial.
Even more ads then?
I do appreciate your comments here JeevesGuy.
Re: Muscle13, if you read his posts you can see he is an investor with an acute interest in the subject matter. He was treated poorly by some 'senior' posters in this forum from my read.
I agree with him and the rest of the investment world that ASKJ is a great investment.
Sadly Ask isn't even in the league of itself one year ago. It used to be just about tied as the best engine out there, but its certainly not in that league now.
The black helicopter guys must be thinking that Ask has degraded its own results so much to gain revenue from the paid ads. But whether it is incompentence or deliberate self-sabotage, the result is the same.
The proof is in the pudding. As long as Ask's database remains woefully incomplete in terms of the best quality sites in every niche, it can't compete, and shouldn't.
1)65% is the % of ASKJ revenues that come from Google. I admit I haven't read through your quarterly statements, but I *have* heard that number used multiple times. Since you are a search engine, it stands to reason that if 65% of your revenues come from distributing Google AdWords, then 65% of your clicks go to adwords.
2)What's left after Google AdWords distribution (and resulting click-throughs) is ~1%, not the 7-8% number you state. Virtually everyone on this board is saying the same thing, and as another poster said, virtually everyone on this board makes their living on search, mostly as advertisers or companies who are otherwise living or dying based on real clicks and real conversions. So I do think that gives us some legitimacy when the majority of us say that we look at our logs (which by all accounts are the only true arbiter of paid/natural SE traffic) and see ~1% at best, coming from ASKJ. So arguing the point is like arguing that the color red is in fact not red.
Despite all this, I am really rooting for you guys, as more players are better than fewer.
[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 3:57 am (utc) on Aug. 14, 2004]
[edit reason] Abbreviated signature [/edit]
I've been getting more traffic from them than from any other search engine (not directly from teoma but from ask jeeves, but it's the same).
Actually that sounds like your problem not ours.
For my "main" keywords I have sites in the top 7 of 10 positions in AJ. I have the top 2 slots in Google.
Google sends me, for this keyword - approximately 800 people a day. AJ has sent me about 60... in 4 years.
If AJ is your top referrer, and you aren't using Adwords - then you must be getting 0.0000% of your traffic from Google.