Early in the new year, Ask.com posted an entry on their blog heralding the dawning of a new age at the struggling search engine – the age of semantic searching. Well, it seems like splitting hairs, but the truth is that Ask.com needed to nail the hail Mary for the last quarter heroics – not sure that has happened. According to most SEO analysts, Ask.com is currently residing either fourth or fifth in search engine ranking, even though new directions such as semantic search were aimed at serving users’ needs in a bid to grow market share.
Taking a long, cold look in the mirror, Ask.com admitted in their January post that search engines, including their own, have a fundamental flaw that prevents users from obtaining quick and efficient results. “Many times users have to repetitively rephrase the query before they finally get the answer they want. That’s because today’s search engines are still very sensitive to the way queries are constructed, returning different answers for variations of the same query.”
The new suite of semantic, web text, and answer farm tools devised by Ask.com have been packaged as Direct Answers from Databases (DADS), Direct Answers from Search (DAFS), and AnswerFarm with DADS being the most relevant to the Ask.com bread and butter – providing answers. The way DADS works is to parse the question then in real time form separate database queries from the original question that each return answers from structured data. Ideally, this should negate difference from separate but similar questions and allow Ask.com to deliver the correct answers in an efficient manner.
To increase their association with the grass roots, DADS, DAFS and AnswerFarm are being tested on NASCAR-related search items. The goal of the tests will be to gauge whether the users are getting the correct results faster than a Skol Bandit can hit a spittoon outside the Piggly Wiggly.
Not sure if the rubber will ever hit road with semantic searching, or what’s around the next corner for Ask.com – maybe they should ask themselves and see what kinds words of advice DADS can provide.