AskJeeves has become the latest search engine to revamp and expand in the hope of repeating Google-style success. The company has improved its search engine to preview images of selected websites, something it claims will make it easier and faster for users to find the information they are looking for.
It has also extended its Smart Search capability, which sticks what it believes to be the most likely information someone is looking for in a box above the normal Web results.
"This is not the same old Ask Jeeves. Its product is of much higher quality than back in 1999 and 2000, but they must convince people of this," said Gary Price, a librarian and editor of ResourceShelf.com, an online newsletter devoted to Internet search. AskJeeves used to disappoint many users by providing irrelevant results, he said.
The preview-image feature will pop up a snapshot of a listed page when the user places the cursor over a binoculars icon included with a query result. It's not supposed to let users read everything on that page, but rather complement the listing data, a spokesman said. If the site doesn't appear to be what you are looking for, it saves time and effort clicking the link and then working backwards to the results again.
The feature is currently optimized for 800 by 600 screens. On such a screen, the snapshot takes up 25 percent of the browser window, he said. The company will continue to develop this feature so that the snapshot can be larger without sacrificing speed, he said.
The Smart Search capability, based on a combination of the company's Teoma search, natural language and structured-data search technologies, is being extended with new features including the following categories: movies, wedding registries, tracking numbers for Federal Express and UPS packages, people search, word definitions and sports teams.
The Ask Jeeves Smart Search technology works very well for certain types of queries, Price said. "I'm very positive about it. It's a good idea to make search engines be more of answer engines, because they reduce the time and aggravation for users and get them quality answers," Price said. The concept of providing shortcuts to Internet data isn't new, but Ask Jeeves is doing a good job of developing it, he said.