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Optimizing for Ask

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday December 15, 2007 )

After noticing Ask steadily gaining ground on MSN Search, I thought I’d look a little more into optimizing sites for the search engine.

In case you missed my post from yesterday, is now less than 1% behind MSN Search in terms of search volume rankings. While MSN Search only has five and a half percent share of the US search market, it’s still enough to make it the no. 3 engine. I know that plenty of people spend time optimizing specifically for MSN and that being the case, I believe it’s now worthwhile to keep an eye on your rankings too.

Optimizing for Ask isn’t terribly complex, which is good as any special tweaks have the capacity to rock the boat in terms of preserving ranks on Google and Yahoo; far more important engines at this point in time.

If you’re following the basic principles of SEO, such as utilizing good keywords and description tags, title tags and taking some care with anchor text, plus of course creating quality content rich in key terms and getting relevant inbound links; you’re on the right track with Ask.

What I have noticed through going back through my server logs and reading the reports of others is that the Ask spider, which will appear in your server logs or traffic reports as Ask Jeeves/Teoma, is nowhere near as active as Google or Yahoo’s spiders.

To help the spider along, Ask recommends implementing an XML sitemap with the open-format Sitemaps protocol. Once you have prepared the sitemap, add the sitemap auto-discovery directive to your robots.txt as follows:


(where is the name of your domain)

Alternatively, you can also submit your sitemap through the ping URL:

If you’re interested in learning more about Ask’s webmaster guidelines and tips, you can do so here. If you need a sitemap generator, GSiteMap (freeware) seems to be a popular choice.


Identifying search engine spiders

Beginner’s guide to XML sitemaps


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