Ask staked its claim in blog search yesterday, when it launched it's new, long awaited blog search service. This new search service will help Ask to capitalize on the keen interest in the topics and debates covered by blogs that aren't easy to find on traditional online news sites. Both Google and Yahoo! have made similar plays months ago, and its nice to see that Ask has finally joined the party.
The obvious question remains though... what does Ask bring to the blog search table that its competitors don't? Well I had a chance to play around with this new service and in addition to the many small features we've come to expect from Ask, 4 features clearly stand out to me.
Unique Indexing and Ranking Methods
Instead of crawling the Web for blog postings to build an index to search like others do, Ask is using the index already created and updated by subscribers to its popular Bloglines site for searching, subscribing to, creating and sharing blogs and news feeds. This feature will significantly reduce the amount of blog spam that appears within most Blog search engines, as well as enable Ask to offer fresher blog search results than those offered by its competitors.
A "Sort By" Feature
Users can sort search listings according to relevance, most recent, and even popularity (according to Bloglines).
This Feature allows users the ability to preview most of the site/blog post without having to leave the search results page. Simply roll your mouse over the "binoculars" image and a pop-up appears.
"Subscribe" and "Post To" Options
Bloglines users, as well as those who use rival Blog and RSS feed readers (like Google's and Yahoo's), can subscribe to the blogs that show up in the search results, and without having to leave the page. Users can also post their search listings to Bloglines or Yahoo's Delicious or Digg.
This new search service is expected to be integrated into Ask's Bloglines site, which is similar to what Google has done with Blogger. Furthermore, I find the search results far more relevant (with less spam occurrences) than what Google and Yahoo! currently offer. It will be interesting to see how things progress from here.