How to Search with Ask.com

Ask X
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What is Ask.com?

Ask.com, or just Ask, is a crawler-based search engine with lots and lots of cool features. Ask also is the parent company of such notable Web destinations as Ask for Kids, Bloglines, and Teoma, which is the underlying search technology for Ask's search.

Ask Home Page

The Ask home page is streamlined, and simple - but don't be fooled by the simple interface, you have a LOT of search options here.

In addition to the standard Web search, you can also search for images, news, maps, local search, weather, encyclopedia listings, blogs and feeds, and more. You can see all these options in the Search Tools window directly to the right of the main search bar. If you click "More", you'll get even more Ask search goodies: Advanced Search, Bloglines, currency conversion, desktop search, mobile content, movies...it just keeps going! This is a serious search engine user's dream come true.

How to search with Ask

One thing that Ask.com (formerly Ask Jeeves) was famous (or infamous, depending on how you want to look at it) when they first started out was the ability to search in "natural language", or in non-searchese, the ability to search in the same language that you would ask a friend, such as "am I wearing pants?" (and hopefully, the answer to this particular query would be "yes".).

Ask doesn't promote the natural language bit as much anymore, but they still have a few searching tips that are good guidelines to keep in mind when searching with Ask.

For one thing, "Ask.com's search technology responds to questions, phrases, or single word searches"; a handy tip to remember. So any of these queries would work successfully:

  • "car rentals Wyoming"
  • "car rentals"
  • "where can I find ford car rentals in wyoming?"

Ask Searching Shortcuts

You can go ahead and use Ask to find something on the Web, but the good folks at Ask have already done a lot of the legwork for many of the more popular searches for you.

For instance, here are just a few of my favorite search shortcuts:

  • Conversion Calculator: My query for "mile to yards" got an instant answer with more suggested conversions on the far right.
  • Dictionary: Preface the word you want defined with "define", "definition" or "meaning of" whatever word you want.
  • Famous People Search: Simply type the name of whatever famous person you are searching for. My search for "dylan thomas" came back with many results for both the singer and the poet, I was able to choose from narrowed search results, poetry selections,and related names.
  • Product Search: "Find products based on reviews, features, price, and store location."

Ask really offers so much to the searcher that I could write an entire book on them - but I'll stick to just a few of my favorite search features here.

Ask Smart Answers

One of the best things about Ask.com is their Smart Answers feature: "Smart Answers can be found on the web results page of many searches, like for a band or famous person, and contain a brief bit of information and links to more information. You can get quick access to sports scores, movie times, weather, dictionary results, translation, conversions, and more." The thing that is really special about Smart Answers is that you're getting an instant, factual answer (no sorting through lots of extraneous results), plus, you get plenty of extra search suggestions to the right of your search query that can expand or narrow your search.

Ask Local Search

Want to find a good pizza place near you? Just try Ask Local Search. For instance, here's a search for pizza in New York City:

  • pizza new york city

What's interesting about Ask Local Search is you get lots of expand/narrow options for your search. Example: obviously, there's going to be a LOT of pizza places in New York City, so Ask gave me a drop-down menu with some specific neighborhoods and boroughs that I could look at.

Each search result comes with tons of information: map, directions, website, price, even the hours.

You can also sort your results by relevance, distance, or ratings.

Plus, you can click on any of the numbers on the interactive map and be taken instantly to the corresponding website for that destination. Just for clarity's sake, it would be nice to have the name of the destination popup when you wave your mouse over the points on the interactive map.

Ask really offers so much to the searcher that I could write an entire book on them - but I'll stick to just a few of my favorite search features here.

Ask Blog and Feed Search

If you'd like to learn more information about a specific blog, simply type the name of the blog - no need for a complete URL. The search results show the latest posts, and you can click through for more information. One thing I wish that was part of the Blog search feature within Ask would be the opportunity to instantly add that blog to your feeds within Bloglines - and since Ask.com owns Bloglines, I would think this would be an easy function to add in.

Why should I use Ask?

Ask is one of the best search engines out there, in my opinion. It's the thinker's search engine - there's just so many great search features, tools, and ways to tweak your search at Ask. Again, I could seriously write a small book on how much good stuff there is to play with at Ask, but the best way to experience all that Ask has to offer is just to do it yourself.