Searchengineland, The Ask.com Blog, TechCrunch, John Battelle, The New York Times, Scoble and others apparently got an advance memo and briefing regarding Ask’s new product. Their reviews focus on the interface changes instead of the actual substance, mine will focus on the actual quality of the search data I experienced.
Not surprisingly, Gary Price of Ask has the most detailed coverage. I’m not going to go through each item as you can read his post. It’s great to see them being scrappy and innovating – it looks like it is a fun time to be working at Ask as they’ve clearly decided to not stay with the status quo.
Let’s start with what I love about the changes:
– Blog search is featured on the front page! This is one of my wishes for all search engines. If they added an option to aggregate News and Blogs together that would totally rock as a next step.
– With Google’s recent home page redesign, the simple interface which resembles the old Google layout can’t be categorized as a ripoff. Awesome timing for this change to be made. Props.
OK, what is weak then? Well let’s start with the fact that at SES Chicago last year, Ask City, was launched. When someone inquired as to why I hadn’t blogged about it, I told the senior person that I had not received the memo, advance notice and was not invited to the Ask City launch party so I had no basis to write anything. That person told me that I would be added to the list to receive future communications and he took the time to introduce me to an Ask publicist who obviously has not followed up on that promise as of the six month mark. It is a shame because I’ve loved all my interactions with the people from Ask when they have occurred.
I didn’t spend a lot of time on it, but here are my first three concerns that need attention before I’d consider playing with it much deeper on a regular basis.
– Ask’s search bot doesn’t index my site regularly and it’s not indexed thoroughly and completely enough. According to my stats in May the Googlebot visited 812 times, MSN/Live visited 899 times, Yahoo! visited 2030 times. Ask’s bot? It visited a mere 63 times. Sigh. Ask still isn’t asking my site for enough data to index it fully.
– A word about that blog search, it’s nice that you have my feeds. It’s nice that you show relevant links to me and comments. However at the moment a search on my first and last name in the post section doesn’t show my posts! Yikes.
– Longtime readers of my blog know that my title used to start with David “Dsquared” Dalka. As much as I love that nickname, I dropped it in the blog title sometime in late 2006 because it was driving a ton of one page visitors from Italy that were clearly looking for something else. (BTW, anyone know what that means there?) OK, so Dave what does this have to do with Ask? The entry for my blog on a web search on Ask still contains the old title. If Ask indexed my site regularly this likely would not be the case.
The good news is that I’m confident these a issues are easy to fix with a little attention. I look forward to seeing progress on these issues shortly and hearing from Ask on these issues.
UPDATE: The Ask.com blog didn’t accept my trackback. Why?