IndustryHow Ask Jeeves Works

How Ask Jeeves Works

In-depth explanation of how the Ask Jeeves search engine works, for Search Engine Watch members


Ask Jeeves is both a company that provides search results to other people and a search site itself. This page focuses on the Ask Jeeves search site and how it operates. The company’s search distribution activities are covered on the How Direct Hit Works page.

Ask Jeeves Results Page

The Ask Jeeves results page lists information from three major sources:

  • Human-powered editorial listings
  • Paid listings from Google
  • Crawler-based results from Ask Jeeves-owned Teoma

The results page also offers a variety of advertising options. Both editorial and paid listings are covered more, below.

Human Results

At the top of the Ask Jeeves listings is usually a section called “Click Ask below for your answers.” The listings here, from the Ask Jeeves “knowledgebase,” generally come from the work of human editors.

Ask Jeeves doesn’t offer an Add URL page, like human-powered directories such as Yahoo, LookSmart and the Open Directory. However, you can suggest that your site be linked to a question via email. Simply send a message to [email protected].

Be smart with your submission. You’re likely to have more success if you find there are no existing questions relating to a particular topic. Do some searches, look for gaps, then suggest appropriate pages from your site. Be short, to the point, and explain why your site has value.

For example, say I had a site about solar eclipses. Let’s also assume I did a search at Ask Jeeves and found it didn’t have answers relating to my topic. I might then send a message to the editors like this:



I have several pages about solar eclipses, which provide perfect answers to questions your users may have. Some examples are below, along with pages from my site that provide answers:

+ When is the next solar eclipse?

+ What are safe ways to view a solar eclipse?

+ How do solar eclipses occur?

I think you’ll find the pages helpful to your users, as they are quite detailed and designed for beginners. The site as a whole has also won many awards and positive reviews, which you can see at:

Thanks for your consideration!


Ask Jeeves provides some editorial guidelines for sites requesting to be listed. By following them, you increase your chances of becoming a resource in the knowledgebase. Here’s a summary of key points:

  • Sites should load quickly and be polished, easy to read and easy to navigate.
  • Sites should be well maintained and updated regularly.
  • Sites should offer thorough and accurate information that answers a user’s question.
  • Sites should offer additional links or information related to the user’s question.
  • Sites should demonstrate credibility by providing author and source citations and contact information.

These points, and some additional information, can be found here.

Ask Jeeves Editorial Policy

In addition to adding sites for free, some of the human-powered listings at Ask Jeeves come through its paid inclusion “Answer Link” program, as described further below.

Overture Results

Usually, the second major group of listings on the Ask Jeeves results page is headed “You may find these sponsored links helpful.” The listings in this section come from Google AdWords Select. They are the top listings from the Google AdWords program for the terms you searched on.

This means that in order to appear at Ask Jeeves for a particular term, you need to be one of the top listings for that term at Google AdWords. See the Google AdWords section of the How Google Works page for more about this.

Teoma Results

Usually, the third major group of listings on the Ask Jeeves results page is headed “You may find my search results helpful.” The listings in this section come from Teoma, a crawler-based search engines owned by Ask Jeeves.

While the Teoma is no longer in “beta,” there are still likely to be changes to how it crawls the web through the middle of 2002. The articles below, especially the latter half of the second one, have more details about how Teoma is crawling the web and tips on ranking better with it:

Teoma Releases Version 2.0
SearchDay, Jan. 21, 2003

In some ways still the new kid on the search engine block, Teoma hits puberty today as “version 2” of the search engine is formally rolled out to the public.

Teoma vs. Google, Round Two
SearchDay, April 2, 2002

So Long Direct Hit, Hello Teoma
The Search Engine Update, Jan. 22, 2002

This article discusses the paid inclusion program that Teoma is currently beta testing.

Ask Jeeves Launches Paid Inclusion For Teoma
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 19, 2002

A “bulk” or “trusted feed” program is also being sold now by Ask Jeeves and through various resellers. The article below provides more details:

Ask Jeeves and 24/7 Launch Fee-Based Service
Ecommerce Times, July 10, 2002

The “Index Connect” program allows “trusted feed” style, cost-per-click deep listings. FYI, Ask Jeeves tells me 24/7 is one of several providers offering the service., and are also third-party providers, plus you can contact an Ask Jeeves sales rep directly via

This article has further technical details about how Teoma’s link analysis ranking system compares to Google’s:

Make Room For Teoma
The Search Engine Update, July 2, 2001

Browse By Subject Results

Ask Jeeves also owns a service called Direct Hit. In turn, Direct Hit provides Ask Jeeves with a version of the Open Directory, which is offered to those who choose the “Browse by Subject” tab at the top of the Ask Jeeves home page. Directory category links also appear at the bottom of Ask Jeeves results pages. For more about appearing in these listings, see the Directory Listings section of the How Direct Hit Works page.


Ask Jeeves has a variety of non-tradition advertisements that are offered at its site. More information on these can be found below:

Ask Jeeves Advertising Information

Some significant options are also described further below:

Answer Link

This is a paid inclusion program that allows sites to be listed in the Ask Jeeves knowledge base. Ask Jeeves will review your site, determine the types of questions you would be an answer for and give you an estimate of the traffic they’d expect to send to you over six months. You’ll then pay anywhere between five cents to as high as $1 per click, depending on the perceived value of the search queries you may be relevant for and the overall amount of traffic expected to be generated. You must have quality content and meet editorial guidelines, in order to participate. It also is important not to use frames, so that Ask Jeeves can deliver people directly to the most relevant portion of your site.


These are paid text ads that appear on the Ask Jeeves site, to the right of the main listings and under the heading “Featured Sponsor.” They are not sold self-serve, as with GoTo. Instead, they must be purchased through the Ask Jeeves advertising department.

Branded Response

These are image-oriented ads that appear within the main search results at the site.

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