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ASK Morphs Into the Future
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Last week ASK announced the release of their new search experience ASK 3-D. Today, ASK sheds even more light to where they are heading with search and search results. We know that ASK is leading the way with a unique search results page based on personalized search. (We think this is pretty cool). For the past number of months we have been preparing for personalization of search. It is something that we welcome as we feel that it will provide the best search experience for the user... and when it comes to search, relevancy is key. So how can ASK (or any search engine for that matter) provide unique or personalized results for the user? Well of course they need to know how the user searches, what they search for and how often. How do they know that you want news results, video results, classic text links or a combination of the bunch? How do they determine which content matches up best with your search?

ASK has developed a new content-matching algorithm that literally changes the results page according to your unique query. They call this process "Morph". According to the official ASK blog, Morph deep-dives hundreds of structured databases, taking into account not only relevance based on source signals, but also previous user behavior for your query. ASK Morph chooses among all possible content modules (such as music, television, news, blogs, images, encyclopedia listings, weather etc) then, it not only retrieves the most relevant content, it ranks the modules on the page depending on the topic. Let's test this shall we?

Try a search for San Jose weather. Usually when you search for something like weather it is an indication that you may be planning an event outside or even a vacation. This new ASK algorithm is smart enough to understand this and not only provide you with the current weather results but also provide you with video, images, maps of San Jose, the current time in San Jose etc. This is pretty cool stuff. For you Google users, this is similar to Universal Search where Google looks to provide addition types of results stemming from other Google properties (books, news, Google Video, blogs, images etc). ASK's "morphing algorithm" puts the more actionable modules--like maps and the correct time--at the top in hope of helping you get the right information, from the right sources, in the right place, at the right time. Sounds good to me, but is it accurate? Well the algorithm inserts the modules and results based on search history/aggregate user behavior for your query, keywords in your query and other factors that determine what you will be presented with.

Using AJAX technology you can also refine your search from the various modules located within the right pane of results. If you choose, you can do an entirely new vertical search in that module to find additional information. Have we said how cool this is? Check this out...

One of the coolest functions is the Video Mouseover where you can roll over a video thumbnail to see a 5-second preview, right in the page. Try it yourself. (Hint: Hover over the David Letterman Video Clip Icons). This is sweet! Some of the other features include:
  • Music Clips
  • Geo-Targeted Businesses and Event Listings
  • Artist Event Listings
  • Image Mouseovers
If ASK continues to provide this type of user experience, there is no doubt that they will gain market share in the search engine industry. They have been the most proactive in changing the face of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They are looking to gain market share away from Microsoft, Yahoo and even Google. They are definitely on their way.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, June 12, 2007  
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Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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