I’ve been looking at Ask.com lately. I think that they have done a clever job with their marketing and decided to take a look at what they are doing. Here are some comparisons between Ask.com’s and Google’s search engines, and an explanation on why Ask.com is providing better SERPs than Google.
There are screenshots of the Ask.com and Google.com SERPs for the keyword japan. The first image is from Ask.com and the second is from Google. To view the images in Firefox, right click on each of them and press the “w” key on your keyboard. That will open the images in new Firefox windows and you can then switch back and forth between the images and the explanations in this blog post with the keyboard shortcut ALT-TAB.
- Narrow your search down from japan to things like map of japan, facts about japan, japanese culture, foods in japan, or even expand the search to things like Mt. Fuji.
- At the top of the page, above the sponsored ads, there is a block that links to comprehensive information about Japan. You can instantly see information like the capital, leaders of the country, population, and have one-click links to Wikipedia, BBC, US government travel information, weather, local time, and tourist attractions.
- One problem I have with Ask.com is that the sponsored results are blended into the search results too much. It’s hard to tell where the ads stop and the search engine results begin. This is my main usability complaint with Ask.com.
- Images of Japan are well-placed on the top right of the page. The images include maps of Japan, flag of Japan, Mt. Fuji, and what looks like a temple.
- The News Images section shows a couple of news articles and related images. Easy to quickly scan and is much better than Google’s awful “Universal Search” which puts Google News results directly in the SERPs.
- A clock showing the current time in Tokyo, Japan. The clock updates in real time on the Web page.
- Google, pay attention — Ask.com puts Wikipedia in the SERPs, but in the sidebar, not mixed into the SERPs. This is a great feature.
- Current weather in Japan. Excellent small touch that makes the page even more useful.
- [not marked on the screenshot] If you hover over the binoculars icons you can see thumbnail previews of the Web sites in the organic search results.
Summary of Ask.com’s SERP:
Ask.com did a great job with this SERPs page. I can probably find the information that I am looking for even without looking at the actual organic search results. The Ask.com SERPs are not any worse than Google’s for this search term, and some of the first page results overlap.
- Google puts it extra services as links at the top of the page. There is no preview of images and news like on Ask.com. Google often integrates Google News and Google Local/Maps into the SERPs making the SERPs muddled and confusing.
- Instead of putting Wikipedia in the sidebar like Ask.com, Google usually puts Wikipedia near the top of the SERPs. In this case Wikipedia is #1. The Ask.com makes more sense. If Wikipedia is going to be a result for just about every major search term, give the site its own sidebar block.
- Google puts the related searches at the bottom. I think Ask has them in a more usable location. Ask.com’s SERPs are made for finding information at a quick glance; Google’s SERPs are not as well designed.
- Google puts images of Japan at the bottom of the page in this case. It would make more sense to put the images at the top or in a sidebar like Ask.com.
- The one place where I think Google did a better job than Ask.com in this comparison of SERPs is that in Google it’s easier to tell what part of the page is the sponsored ads.
Summary of Google.com’s SERP:
Google’s search engine results page is mediocre in comparison to what Ask.com has done. Google has not even provided better organic search results than Ask.com in this case.
Conclusion of Ask.com vs. Google
I’m going to continue this comparison by setting my default search engine to Ask.com for at least a week. I will follow up soon on the results of my experiment.
This was a brilliant job done by Ask.com on their search engine results page for the keyword Japan.