First, on November 9th we hear that Ask.com decided it no longer really wants to be a search engine. You can read more here – Ask.com Update from their blog (I think it is weird that the President of Ask.com decided to write his name in all caps, what is that supposed to mean?).
This after all the excitement of Yahoo! also deciding to get out of the search business earlier this year, has created a lot of change within the search space in such a short time. The problem is that as we lose things we seldom get anything back and/or if we do get a new web property it is usually never as good as something else we lost.
Hopefully, Blekko, a new search engine proves me wrong and fills in the void of Ask.com. So far it does not appear to be happening, but there is always hope….:-)
Ask.com just cannot seem to get things right. It’s search traffic volume rarely changes, but it’s focus seems to change with the wind and it has seen a lot of change as of late with most of it not being considered good. Here is a hit list of fun items over the last year:
- A new look and feel with a new direction as more of a Q&A engine (haven’t we done this before?)
- The rise and fall of Ask Deals (a lot of Brady Bunch, but little actual substance)
- The return of ‘Jeeves’ in the U.K. only (what, is ‘Jeeves’ not good enough for everyone else?)
…..and now they just sent a message out to all self service credit card advertisers that reads:
Ask Sponsored Listings will be discontinuing the self-service credit card channel on September 30th, 2010.
When the self-serve credit card channel is discontinued, your advertising account will be permanently closed. As a result, your ads will not longer be in distribution and your account will become inaccessible.
Please review the timeline below as this outlines the account deactivation process.
September 1st, 2010 – The Client Services Team will disable the auto refill feature on all accounts. This will prevent any future credit card charges to your account.
Mid September – The Client Services Team will begin deactivating self service credit card advertising accounts and processing refunds for their remaining balances*. When your account is deactivated, you will be given “Reporting-only” access which will allow you to run click reports until September 30th.
September 30th, 2010 – The self-service credit card channel will be discontinued and access to the advertising console will be removed.
*Please note: The refund process can take up to 90 days, but this deadline may be extended.
So, where does this leave us? It leaves us a new interface, lack of confidence from the owner, loss of our technology lead, failed product extensions, a revival of a lost icon (in the U.K.) and now……the end of self service paid ads. Why not just drop another nail in the coffin and also get rid of one of your revenue sources – well it sounds like a good idea, right?
All I can say is that Ask.com once had a chance to be bigger and better than it is today, but I think that time has long passed us by.
So, it may not be often (or as bad as a bad tattoo), but Google sometimes does not provide the results that are needed or wanted. So, where do people turn to get their answers? A great new study by Chitika entitled, “Googlers’ Backup Plan – Ask.com?” gives us some insights. Look at the chart below:
Amazingly enough, when Google is not the answer over 30% of people go to Ask.com. While that is not as much as Yahoo with almost 50%, it does blow away Bing with around 17% (and since AOL is basically just Google repackaged in AOL even 4% is pretty incredible).
So, what does this tell us? Is there more opportunity or value in getting the initial search or is it more valuable to get secondary searches? Maybe Ask.com is more valuable then we previously thought. This research (and others from Chitika on Ask.com) open up data sets that have been ignored or missed before and we look forward to more of this type of information to better plan our search marketing campaigns.
Many people ask me which posts have been the most popular or which posts bring in the most traffic to the site. So, I decided to outline the top 5 for you in order of overall traffic to the site: #1 from March of 2008 Add URL – Free Search Engine Submission Links - Hands down the most visited web page on the blog as people love to submit to the search engines and they love to do it for FREE…:-)
#4 from December 2009 The 10 Best FREE Keyword Research Tools on the Internet! - Come on, who does not love a top 10 list and who within the search marketing community does not use keyword research tools on a daily basis? This post was a match made in heaven, at least some people’s heaven.
#5 from January 2009 To Ping or Not to Ping, That is Not the Question - With our fun play on words how could you not love this post? Come on, really. When it comes to pinging there are those that love to ping and those that could care less, but those of you that care, made this one of the top posts on the blog and rounded out our top 5 posts ever!
Now that we have shown your our top 5 based on website traffic, we would love to hear what you liked and/or disliked over the last 2+ years. Please leave us feedback by leaving a comment even if you do so anonymously as all are appreciated. Thanks in advance and stay tuned for more fun, helpful and interesting posts to come!
Just in case you care – Entireweb is launching it’s new (updated) search engine tomorrow (countdown timer available on their website at www.entireweb.com).
Entireweb at a glance (from the website):
Entireweb’s goal is to be a leading supplier of search technology solutions. The international Web search engine www.entireweb.com is not only a highly popular general purpose search engine used by millions of people around the world – it is also a showcase of our search technology and our expertise in the field of ultra-high-performance information retrieval from huge unstructured data sources.
Entireweb currently handles over 100 million searches every month, and is a trusted partner of internationally acclaimed meta search engines such as Mamma and IxQuick, who rely on Entireweb to provide world-class search results.
The new search engine promises to be much more robust with a deeper index in order to better compete against Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com. Recent announcements from their blog highlight that the new engine will pull real-time data from OneRiot and image data from picsearch. Ads will be pulled from their SpeedyAds program and their is a new mobile interface available.
Remember cuil? I don’t blame you if you don’t as there was a ton of hype around this being the next big ‘Google Killer’ a year or two ago and not much after. cuil never lived up to the hype, but yet continues to somehow survive and manages to keep providing the same non-relevant results as always.
Well, recently I found (via TechCrunch) this great information showing a little known, but pretty cool search engine called Duck Duck Go that is leveraging some brand equity (if there is any left) from cuil (at least someone is getting something from it) by creating two new websites that look and feel as cuil, but actual provide relevant results (via Duck Duck Go).
I would like to put forth a new valuation method to better understand how much a company may value it’s search engine. I feel that we can use a search engine’s blog as an indicator as to how a company may value it’s search engine. I had my own preconceived notions as to what the outcome would be and they were dead on, so maybe monitoring blog activity can tell you a lot. Check out the data below:
While Ask.com is a distant fourth in the top 4 search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing and then Ask.com – AOL is not included as it uses Google’s index even though it has about the same marketshare as Ask.com) it can provide traffic and is an important part of any SEO effort.
Ask.com does not allow URL submissions as most other search engines do, instead the ONLY way to proactively submit your site to Ask.com is via an XML sitemap ping. This ping is VERY EASY and takes no time at all. Here is all you have to do.
Use the URL listed below and replace, ‘www.MYSITE.com’ with you URL and make sure you have an XML sitemap at this location – www.MYSITE.com/sitemap.xml. It is that easy.