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I have to give the kudos to MSN for their wonderfully fresh index.
Despite changes to some of the pages titles or content, the index remained with the old cashed pages. At one point the sites index page was showing content some 9 months out of date.
Ask returned about 40-70 customers a month maximum for about three years but almost every day the bot came but with a low number of hits and no changes to the pages in the index.
Then the site had three big deep crawl hits from the bot about a month apart each time with the usual regular bot hits as before - again no changes in the index. My client phoned me at the time to suggest blocking the bot as it was eating bandwidth and producing nothing in return. We left it as it was but had written ask off as a supplier of traffic to the site.
Then, bingo one day about 4 months later, it was like a miricle, loads of the sites pages started showing up in the results top 10. For keywords that we didnt expect to be honest!, the keywords we expected to rank didnt but other pages did.! Ask started sending about 4000 visitors a month to the site.(not big numbers but a step in the right direction) This has continued since.
I have looked into it and can honestly conclude that i have absolutely no idea why the site now ranks in it. Teoma show the site as having more backlinks than before but so have other sites we work on that still dont rank.
If i had to guess, i would say that possibly the site attracted some links from a few similar types of content sites (that Teoma liked)and this may have been what triggered the push.
I have since read that Teoma likes "matching content links" and that whilst it prefers only paid for listings, it will feature some "authority" sites in the index for free if it values them enough.
Frankly its a lottery if you "ask" me how you get ask to recognise your site as an authority, but even in this example, the webmaster is still trying to work out how to get it to rank for other keywords.
And you all thought Google was a mystery - i think ask takes some beating!
The only indication I know of that Teoma sees a page as an authority is if you search for your keyword and look at the list of "Resources - Link collections from experts and enthusiasts". My guess is that it is only a small selection of authoritive documents; if they would list them all, it would be too easy (even though I already have a hard time getting a link on those resources).
I'm waiting for Yahoo to review a website that I submitted for an express directory listing. I'm very curious to see if anything will happen in Ask and/or Google and/or Yahoo as a result of that.
The trouble for newer websites seems to be getting into that pool of pages of which the cache is (somewhat) frequently updated. Ask's own version of a sandbox, perhaps ;-)
I would just check that the cache page dated by ask was the page on that day.
In my own experience i have seen ask show a cashe date on a page when in fact the page had been changed some weeks earlier and that was not how the page looked on that date.
As for the bot it has visited loads of sites we work on, on a regular basis but they have still seen zero movement in ASKs natural SERPS
Regarding authority status i believe that the connection is down to one way links from sites within your sector it rates to your site. This is the only connection i have found to date.