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Teoma Hits the Ground Running



12:16 pm on Apr 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Teoma Launches

On March 22nd, I enjoyed a long interview with Teoma's Vice President of Search Paul Gardi about the official launch of Teoma.

Teoma arrive out of virtual obscurity last May. Within three months, they were purchased by AskJeeves.

Teoma has relaunched their new search engine today. Although visually it appears similar to the previous beta sites, there are some notable changes to the new search engine.

A Whole New Way to use a Search Engine

The most interesting new feature is the expanded Refine Results option on the results pages.

On the right side of most results page, you will find one or more Refine Result links. These links allow you to drill down into searches making them more accurate.

After a bit of warming up to the new feature, I've found myself using it often. It has an uncanny way of mimicking exactly the same search refinement process we tend to go through at other engines.

What is so fascinating about the feature, is Teoma's ability to identify major resources within communities. Most of us in the search engine marketing sector have heard of Kleinberg's famous Authoritative sources in a hyperlinked environment, I believe Teoma takes the concept one step further. Not only does Teoma identify the major "authority" sites in any community via it's "resources" links on the results pages, but it is able to determine the relevance of any link.

Gardi says that what makes Teoma so much different from other static search engine indexes, is that Teoma, "creates on the fly, clusters of web pages into topic specific web communities".

You can see this in action by using the refine option to drill down into searches. While it may appear that you are using a type of "search within these results" method, it becomes clear that is not the case at all. There is something more fundamental at work than a simple include/exclude type of search.

Teoma was able to determine that Webmasterworld was part of the search engine optimization community and NOT part of the search engine community itself. Other engines often lump us in with the search engines, or other forums themselves.

One has to wonder about the processing overhead that is involved in such a real time feat. It could explain why Teoma has remained with somewhat of a small index (by comparison to a few other engines).

The refine option is somewhat radical, I had to wonder if users will use it, or ignore it. Gardi said, "it will be a process of education, but we are going to stick with it".

The refinement process with other search engines is a game of "catch me if you can". You set and think up the magic search words to get the results you want. That process is always fraught with missteps. In the end, a search results page is only as good as the search terms that went into it. The Teoma refinement suggestions reduce all that guess work to simple clicks.

The accuracy of simple searches is ok, but once you start to work down through the refinement process, suddenly results become hyper relevant. If they can get this feature to catch on with users - they may just have something big here. This is a whole new way to use a search engine.

The Shape of the Web

The whole concept of "communities within communities" was brought out in background media literature Teoma presented. The real eye opener, was an image of the web.

While we all ran over the cliff with the easy to visualize Bow Tie Theory, Teoma presented a more complex view of the web as communities. Each community is only connected at the edges to other communities, inside of their authoritative sphere of influence. By using the refine search option you can certainly see this aspect at work as sub-searches tend to stay in their community of influence and do not go down false links like other theme oriented engines.

Sponsors and Paid Inclusion

Other changes to the SERPs include the addition of Overture sponsored results as the first two listings on the page. The links are well marked as sponsors, and clearly separated from the remainder of the content on the page.

Another option for marketers is that of the AskJeeves paid inclusion program. The paid inclusion program is handled by Ineedhits and is similar to other search engine inclusion programs, but is cheaper. A url subscription is good for 15 months - three months longer than other search engines.

Gardi said they would not allow paid inclusion to influence results in any way. In fact, Gardi felt that paid inclusion made their job easier by helping to identify quality sites to a degree. Gardi felt that if they have the promotion budget for inclusion, "it's usually a sign that they have a quality web team to back it up".

Paid inclusion turn around time was expected to be around seven days. That should be enough for most sites, and keep the quality of the index high by thwarting algo analysis. Gardi said they were also exploring XML direct feeds and may make them available in the near future.

Uncrackable Algo?

We've heard the phrase before, and watched the uncrackable algos fall. Having spent a week studying Teoma, I don't see how anyone could crack it without an everest like assault. There maybe some minor avenues for link relationship building, but Teoma's usage of links, link context, page context, and community context, makes the theme engine the most bullet proof algo we have seen yet.

The Challenge

Whether Teoma can break the internets addiction to Google is yet to be seen. They have a great deal going for them in highly relevant results, a SERP that is aesthetically clean, a quality brain trust, and the marketing and branding beef of a top site in AskJeeves. It's a safe bet they will be expanding along with AskJeeves into new markets.

About AskJeeves-Teoma

Stock Symbol ASKJ
Exchange Nasdaq NM
Last Trade 2.11 (04/01:AM EST - 4-1-2002)
Sector Technology
Industry Software & Computer Services
EmployeesApproximately 420
The NameTeoma means expert in Gaelic
Teoma ManagementPaul Gardi, Vice President of Search, Background in venture capital, product management and operations.
Teoma FoundersApostolos Gerasoulis, Ph.D., Vice President of Research & Development, Teoma Founder. Professor (CS) at Rutgers University. Expert in applied mathematics and numerical computing, parallel software and applications.
Tao Yang, Ph.D., Chief Scientist Associate Professor (CS) at UC Santa Barbara. Expert in parallel/distributed systems and scientific computing.
Teoma HistoryTeoma was founded in 2000 in Piscataway, New Jersey by a team of scientists from Rutgers University. Teoma means "expert" in Gaelic. Ask Jeeves, Inc. acquired Teoma in September 2001.
AskJeeves Management Team A. George (Skip) Battle, Chief Executive Officer and Director
Steve Sordello, Chief Financial Officer
Claudio Pinkus, President, Jeeves Solutions
Steven Berkowitz, President, Web Properties
George Lichter, President of Ask Jeeves International
About AskJeevesAsk Jeeves was founded in 1996 in Berkeley, CA, by David Warthen, veteran software developer, and Garrett Gruener, venture capitalist at Alta Partners and founder of Virtual Microsystems.
AskJeeves Company BlurbJeeves Solutions is a leading provider of enterprise class question answering technology that delivers Connected Self-Service and essential customer intelligence. Through an intuitive interface that connects customers with the information, products and services they are looking for, Jeeves Solutions uses sophisticated Analytics to deliver critical, customer-driven information to corporations. This essential data enables companies worldwide to build profitable relationships with their customers, prospects and suppliers. By learning from every online customer interaction, Jeeves Solutions helps companies cost-effectively increase the quality and depth of customer interactions and leverage customer insight to guide product, sales and marketing strategies. Corporate customers including British Telecom, DaimlerChrysler, Dell, Nestle, Nike and the State of Washington use Jeeves Solutions.

Notable Divisions, Links, and Domains:

AskJeeves Solutions http://www.jeevessolutions.com/
AskJeeves for Kids! http://www.ajkids.com/
Recent News Itemshttp://www.irconnect.com/askj/pages/news.mhtml
Site Submissionhttp://static.wc.ask.com/docs/addjeeves/Submit.html
Editorial Guidelineshttp://static.wc.ask.com/docs/about/policy.html
Pregnuta.com http://www.pregunta.com/
Ask.co.uk http://Ask.co.uk.com

Teoma Spiders
IP Addresses 63.236.92.*
Main block: -
random spiderings: -
Agents teoma_agent1
teoma_agent1 [crawler_admin@teoma.com]
teoma_agent1 [teoma_admin@hawkholdings.com]
teomaagent crawler-admin@teoma.com

Teoma Headquarters
1551 South Washington Avenue
Suite 400
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Ask Jeeves, Inc. Headquarters
5858 Horton Street
Suite 350
Emeryville, CA 94608

Recommended Advanced Reading List:

Hawk Holdings Launches Teoma Technologies
DiscoWeb : Discovering Web Communities Via Link Analysis (DiscoWeb team)
Division of Computer and Information Sciences
Teoma is a powerful new tool for searching the Internet that grew out of the 1998 DiscoWeb project at Rutgers. Professor Apostolos Gerasoulis was principal investigator on DiscoWeb and formed a private company to develop the technology under a license from the university.
Web Structure Analysis (links compilation)
Structure of The Web (J. Kleinberg, S. Lawrence -PDF)
Structural Analysis of The World Wide Web D. Gibson, J. Kleinberg, P. Raghavan
Inferring Web Communities from Link Topologies D. Gibson, J. Kleinberg, and P. Raghavan
Trawling the Web for emerging Cyber Communities Ravi Kumar, Prabhakar Raghavan, Sridhar Rajagopalan, Andrew Tomkins

AskJeeves Media relations is handled by Dotted Line Communications


9:36 pm on Apr 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

>Print publicity-wise, Teoma is striking pay-dirt now.

It's why I included the media rep firm url as the last line of the article. None better in the se world.


10:16 pm on Apr 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

One comment from your interview was a bit distressing.

Gardi felt that paid inclusion made their job easier by helping to identify quality sites to a degree. ... if they have the promotion budget for inclusion, "it's usually a sign that they have a quality web team to back it up".

This kind of view favors businesses that put most of their money into promotion rather than quality products and customer service.

There are some very competitive search terms in smaller fields where only two or three companies have any advertising budget at all. The companies that can pay tend to be large businesses with lower quality products at discount prices. That isn't necessarily the quality people want to find.

Eventually, all the small businesses will be driven off the internet, leaving only one more advertising venue for corporate America. It's inevitable, but it's sad as well.


11:22 pm on Apr 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Gardi said they would not allow paid inclusion to influence results in any way.

this was the first part of that statement, and certainly the most critical part of the statement, that if not honored would be all over this forum in the future.

I am a little confused by your concerns of promotion vs quality products, either the company trying to do well on teoma, has quality products or dose not.

Promotion, certainly in the way ranking algo's of many SE's not just teoma, demand a good quality site, that has many characteristics of quality, i.e. no spam. (hundreds of others, that with alot of reading, and asking here you will find out about.

Big businesses - need small businesses and vice versa, i don't think we will see small businesses being in any way eradicted from the internet courtesy of Teoma or the other search engines. It's not in anyones interest certainly not in the B2B marketplace.


5:07 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

All that functionality, such 'refinement' in search options...but...

You have to pay to get in!

Contradiction in terms?


5:29 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rcjordan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>You have to pay to get in!

They crawled something for free. I'm in.


5:46 pm on Apr 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


Gardi said they would not allow paid inclusion to influence results in any way.

I don't see how paid inclusions won't influence the results if the rule is that you have to pay to be included. I'm really not looking at this from a personal perspective. My sites have been well-ranked with Direct Hit, Ask Jeeves and others for a long time, so they're already in Teoma's new database. However, it does seem like it would be very difficult for a new site to get included if they don't have a promotion budget.

Concerning promotion vs quality, here's the issue for me. Yes, it's true that businesses backed by a lot of money may have more appealing web sites with better design features, etc. However, the quality of the web site is not a particularly good indication of the quality of the products and services offered.

I understand that search engines can only judge relevance, etc. by what's on the web site, but paid submissions, pay per click programs and so on do favor larger, better funded companies. If I wanted to start a new company today, I doubt that I could afford to promote it well enough for anyone to find it.

Sometimes visitors to my web site ask me for advise on how to get their sites promoted. I put them in my web directory for a link if appropriate and try to help them find ways of getting into the SEs. Some have very nice little web sites and no money. It just seems like every day another SE or directory switches to a pay-for-inclusion format, effectively taking away the possiblity of growth for these sites and often dooming them to failure.

i don't think we will see small businesses being in any way eradicted from the internet

I hope you're right. :)


12:13 am on Oct 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Six months have gone by.

In april, I would agree with everything said above.

Now, October 9th, I think things have changed.
Several of my sites have been indexed; I never paid anything to Teoma.
I have seen a slow, but consistent, growht in the number of hits from Teoma. Also, I see a gradual increase in the number of my sites being indexed.

I thought it would be useful to bring this thread back to top.


11:12 pm on Oct 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


I agree with what you are saying about the PFI model, not being exclusive to listing.

In regards of traffic from Teoma, certainly from the conversations at PubCon, it depends on industry and targetted demographics, that will draw traffic via teoma.


11:43 pm on Oct 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


Same here. I have been pleased with the results from Teoma (and even better AJ). I have not paid a thing but I have plenty if incoming links so Teoma has picked up all my main sites by spidering.

As a user I am searching with Teoma more and more for my daily use. I think it will gain more popularity over the upcoming months as their DB grows.

I think this engine has a good future.

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39

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