Comparing Search Results

Since different search engines weigh different parts of their algorithms differently, they can all have similar relevancy while having significantly different search results.

Some people are quick to ask how their sites are being penalized in one search engine because they rank well in others. While many sites do get penalized for aggressive spamming techniques, most sites that do not rank well usually just fail to satisfy the specific ranking algorithm for that specific engine in question.
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The Problems with Teoma’s Technology

Since Teoma is so focused on local communities, it is easy for people to spoof false topical authority onto a site by creating many sites within a specific theme that commonly link to the spoof site and other randomized authoritative sites on that topic.

Since Teoma does not provide a ton of traffic, there is less of a strain on their algorithm by people manipulating search results than there is on Google, Yahoo!, or MSN.

How To Rank Well in Ask

Ask is usually one of the slower engines at picking up new websites. The average time for picking up new sites is about a month and a half.

Since the primary focus of Ask is on local communities, it can take a long time to rank well in it. You will need to find ways to embed yourself in the correct local communities to list well for competitive terms. Social interaction is key.
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Effect of Links on Teoma

Teoma does most of its link evaluation after the user searches and primarily focuses on local communities. Several things result from this system:

  • It is hard to measure link popularity in Teoma.
  • Off-topic links have extremely little effect on Teoma’s search results.
  • On-topic links are exceptionally important.

What is Teoma and How Does it Work?

Teoma is the search engine that powers Ask. In early 2006, Ask killed the Teoma brand and the Teoma.com website, but Teoma is still the search technology used to power Ask.

The core of the Teoma search technology is based upon the idea that society and the Internet consist of tiny communities that self-organize themselves into hubs and authorities.

Hubs and Authorities

An authority is a site that is linked to by many sites and pages covering that topic. A hub links to many relevant topical sites. It is said that a good authority has links from many good hubs, and good hubs link to many good authorities.

If you read search engine papers and information mining topics such as latent semantic indexing and multi-dimensional scaling, you can learn how some of those technologies are similar to what Teoma does. LSI works at understanding word relationships, but Teoma looks at understanding link relationships between pages within communities.
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Ask.com Search Distribution

Ask has a distribution of around 3% of the U.S. search through Lycos, Ask.com, Excite, My Way, and iWon. For a number of years, My Way was the default home page on Dell computers, but more recently Google partnered with Dell.

InterActiveCorp bought out Ask and cross promotes Ask on their other properties such as Expedia.com, Ticketmaster.com, and Match.com.

On the Ask site, they blend Google AdWords ads at the beginning of search results on highly commercial terms. You can also buy Ask pay-per-click ads directly. Ask will display internal ads for a particular search query only if they feel they will make more money from them than from running AdWords ads. Ask also sells banner-based advertising and Kelkoo product ads for some of their more expensive words.