Ask Jeeves answers with updated search engine

Ask Jeeves has rolled out an updated version of its Teoma search engine, hoping to out-query competitors by offering refined search capabilities, Web-based spell check, and improved context and relevance among other new features.

The release of Teoma 2.0 Tuesday comes one year after Ask Jeeves integrated the search engine into its Ask.com site. Since then, the company has focused on differentiating its search offering from other players in the highly competitive Internet query market.

Teoma is taking a different tack from rivals such as Google by representing what it calls "Subject-Specific Popularity" in its search results, rating the expertise or knowledge a page contains according to how many same-subject Web pages refer to it. In this way, Teoma says that it displays communities on the Web, and can represent a group of pages on or about the same subject.

The search engine also offers advanced search tools, allowing users to refine their queries using specific criteria such as exact phrase, page location, date, domain and site, geographical region and the ability to search within results. Additionally, users can now search in 10 Western languages, including French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Teoma 2.0 also offers spell check that identifies query misspellings, and more complete descriptions of search results, offering contextual information that helps improve relevancy, the company said.

With its community approach and improved feature set, Teoma is hoping to scoop up more of the search market, which has taken off in recent years with its ability to generate revenue through paid listings, advertising and premium search services.

The company claims to now have 25 percent of the search market, behind leaders Google and Inktomi Corp. Teoma said that since its inclusion in Ask.com it has improved relevancy and expanded its index by more than 500 percent, having crawled one billion Web pages and indexed more than 500 million URLs (uniform resource locators).

The company said that it plans to continue investing in the search service, improving its technology and relevancy to gobble up more of the market.

The Teoma technology was created by a group of scientists at Rutgers University who launched the Teoma.com site in April 2001. Ask Jeeves purchased the site and technology in September of that year. Aside from powering the Ask.com search function, Teoma is also available at http://www.teoma.com.

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