Ask getting more international

(Throwing up an old post. Why don’t I throw them out when they’re hot off the pixel presses? I dunno. Sometimes I forget to post stuff.)

This post on the Ask Jeeves blog mentions some neat new translation and definition features on Ask. The post is interesting to me because Ask mentions that previously they didn’t have as many international pages. When I’d compared results in the past, I’d noticed that Ask had fewer international results. Sounds like they’re going to tackle the “ümläüt market” more in 2006. It’s good that Äsk is adding more international pages and plans to grow its staff by 20% next year.

The thing that I like about the search engine market today is that there are so many smart people working on different ideas. That bodes well for users in 2006.

(By the way, Åsk just rolled out a German version of their search. Good for you, Ask.)

33 Responses to Ask getting more international (Leave a comment)

  1. Harith

    Hi Matt

    “The thing that I like about the search engine market today is that there are so many smart people working on different ideas. That bodes well for users in 2006.”

    Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

    Working at present on an a project of an advanced Global B2B Search Engine. Shall keep you posted 🙂

  2. Ellio


    Will we be getting a Big Daddy update on your blog soon?


  3. Stephen

    Lol – Harith is always here quickly 🙂

    Perhaps I will have to get a job at ask then – does not look like my websites will pick up – sniff sniff.

    Matt – we know that BD is still in development etc, and it has been noticed that some homepages are being crawled again after not for a long time, although they dont rank yet – is this part of the canonical fix ?

    Sorry to be a pain keep bring back BD – but I need to make a decision sooner or later on whether my sites are going to come back or not – if not then I will have to look at other ways of making a living. He he. 🙂

    If you cant comment at this stage fair enough.



  4. Stephen

    BTW, no He he belongs in my post really.

    Onto Ask – there was an intresting discussion at WMW about Yahoo and there targets for search market share – which I am sure that you saw – I personally think they have given up on Global search – but are targetting local markets – US, UK etc

    Intresting that Ask are now moving in to International versions of search – Google are streets aheard in so many countries though that I wonder how other SEs can really make a dent now.

  5. David Thulin

    Äsk – this is not only slighly humorous, it is also the exact way it would be pronounced in Swedish to sound English. Or something like thät. /David

  6. Funny that you promote other search engines,… your competition,….

    oh but they use Google Ads in their sponsored web results,,.. 😉

  7. David

    what about umlaute in google?
    most people think they are handled equal but they aren’t. it’s a huge different wether i spell ueberraschung or überraschung (german for suprise) both in serps and adwords.
    the other thing are umlautdomains which can’t compete at all.
    i’d like to have some background information about how google handles this and most important is trying to handle it in the future.

  8. german

    Google does not handle umlaute correctly. I can see it on my counter and on Google Sitemap. I have yet to see an automated system that can handle it correctly throughout, let alone one that understands that ü and ue are sometimes the same and sometimes not.

    Umlautdomain are in my opinion not worth it if you want to be international.
    These special charachters are not found on (for german speaking countries) foreign keyboards like the french or english ones.

    Ask has still big problem with spam. One big spammy site with hidden keywords the way like matt likes to show (westboxx) is taking with its subdomains half of the result places of the first two pages.
    At least I am on page 2 so I am not worrying much.

  9. Hi Matt,

    I’m actually currently working on a site in two languages. Does Google still prefer that all the text be left without accents or is it now a good idea to use the accents in the main body of the site?

  10. Ralf

    Talking about getting more international (category amusing)

    Harith Said
    Ellio Said
    Stephen Said
    David Thulin Said
    Peter (Brane) Said
    David Said
    german Said
    Nick Said

    Together with a friend here in Europe we had to make a decision whether or not using WordPress.

    First remark was: Why use al these people the same arabic last name ?

  11. You guys at the ‘plex should care for “ümläüt” a bit more as well! In Germany, we have a really huge problem in terms that Google does not know 7-bit versions of our “Umlaute”.

    For example:

    Großbräu (to stick with the stereotype, this could be the name of a brewerie) can be written aus:


    All 4 of them are EXACTLY the same word. Guess what Google think it is? Right, 4 different queries!

    This is a hard job in site-building, especially if the grammatically right word would be “Großbräu”, yet most of the visitors would query for “Grossbräu”.

    (Examples are hypothetical, yet from a grammar point close enough to what I deal with on a daily basis)

  12. Mike

    I have to say that Yahoo has become very clever in localising results.

    What they got completely wrong is that you cannot display websites, relevant globally on the country of origin only. That way you are limiting the information avaialable on a global level and segregating culture with search results.

    Ask Jeeves, I always want to think that Ask Jeeves is a search engine but every time I search there I have great trouble believing it.

    Sorry Ask

  13. Nice post Matt. This and Marissa Mayer’s recent “apology” for Google Video are one of the reasons Google is deservedly on top – you guys want a better internet even if it is your competitors that are helping make it that way. You should all take great pride in that fact.

    Harith you work at ASK? Where’s YOUR blog dude? Rahul speaks at WMW conferences and seems to be a very sharp and nice guy.

  14. “The thing that I like about the search engine market today is that there are so many smart people working on different ideas. That bodes well for users in 2006”
    Excusing me for laughing.When 95% of adult searches show expired mainstream domains and you still haven’t been able to work that one out, then it bodes alarm for the users in 2006

  15. Smoke2Much

    Ask is irrelevant. I rank high for my target keywords on Ask, but I don’t remember the last hit that came through them. What’s the news on Big Daddy? Target date? I’m guessing president’s day weekend.

  16. BillyS

    The thing I believe ASK has really mastered at this point is natural language. I was playing around with my daughter’s homework and the instructions were to ask a series of questions on Google.

    I followed the instructions exactly and found that Google, Yahoo and MSN all had trouble interpreting the questions (as written in the assignment).

    In nearly all cases, ASK did the best job of understanding what the user (me) was looking for. Most of the time I had to “cheat” to get the results I was looking for on other search engines.

    Later I found the teacher marked one of our responses incorrectly (Who was the first woman to appear on a US postage stamp?). I found the answer on the USPS website and it’s Queen Isabella I of Spain. The teacher’s answer key said it was Martha Washington (which is incorrect).

  17. Jeeves

    Jeeves 4 President.
    Thats my opinion.

  18. Ask Jeeves is one big SE joke!

  19. “what about umlaute in google?”

    I see the same in portuguese (áéíãõ etc.) but my experience is that Google does a good job at understanding that use with or use without means the same thing.

    Servers don’t understand all those specific letters with accents so you kind of have to use them without in URL’s.

    “First remark was: Why use al these people the same arabic last name ? ” LOL That is extremely funny!

  20. Ralf

    I was curious about the search results of the German Ask also because of the less positive comments above, so I did a search for my hometown.

    #1 and #2 shows a hotel site, the first site is a dot com (redirects to the same dot de domain including a popup), the second site is a different .de domain. Both about the same hotel, but more disappointing the hotel is located about 100 kilometers from my hometown.

    #8 shows one of my own sites a busyness, which is located in my hometown, OK, this is fine for me but this site is gone for almost 4 month now.

    Another result says: Melden Sie sich kostenlos an, um “my hometown” zu kaufen und zu verkaufen (guess who?)

    My point, just another SE that depends on SEO, the truth of the answers is still far away.

  21. Gustaf

    I don’t like your attitude. This spelling umlaut with dots over it might be pronounced the same in English, but not in other languages. I don’t like your tone, as if “we are better, we are English, we don’t need that” ending with “good for you”.
    I’d personally rather be interested in whether they (Ask) will censor german searches just like google does.

  22. Hi Matt,

    I am not sure what the protocol is for this, if I should reply to the Dec 21 post
    or reply here because no one will ever look back to Dec 21, so I apologize if this is bad form. I am not a computer guru or SEO person, just a wife and mom trying to help my husband’s law firm. I made us a website last year, and I have tried to learn about SEO and apply some of it to our pages. I think our content is good and I understand that is the most important thing but this SEO stuff is FASCINATING!!

    ** I am putting my actual question up here, in front of what turned out to be much longer and more rambling than I meant it to! Why, on different servers, are my website results so different? On there are 11.5 mil results for my search term and my site is #19. On there are 4.2 mil results for my search term and my site is #121. Why such a difference and could you point me to a place to learn more about this. Thank you! **

    I recently revamped our whole site and uploaded it 1 28 06. I also made a google sitemap (I had no clue how to do what your instructions said to generate one, so I used one of the third party software sites to do it and it seems to have worked. Your directions were amazingly complicated or I am amazingly slow!!)

    Anyway, I have become obsessed with learning about this stuff and through exploring on the web I found a site that shows all the different IP addresses for the google servers. This was so exciting to me because I FINALLY understood why sometimes I would do a search and get 11.5 mil results and the next time do the same exact search and get 4.2 mil results.

    This led me to you because two of the servers had special names, one called “little daddy” (my personal favorite so far because my site is 19 out of 11.5 million results for my search term) and another called “Matt Cutts Big Daddy” (which I don’t like as well because it has my site at 121 out of 4.2 mil results).

    Then I wondered who is Matt Cutts, and googled your name and found this blog. I love the fact that “googled” is a verb and I bet you do too. I started reading your blog and thinking what a nice guy you seem to be, and especially impressive because I guess you could retire a gazillionaire right now (I live in Austin where we have lots of what we call “dellionaires”, so maybe you would be a googlellionaire?) but not only do you still work but you take time on your personal nights and weekends to do this blog. Actually, I think I can understand it somewhat because this is amazing fascinating stuff that has kept me glued to computer recently!

    My family is having a lot of “do it yourself dinners” lately… our code for “Mom is at the computer again working on the website and she doesn’t want to stop to cook!!”.

    Enough for now, thank you for reading if you even get this far, and keep up the amazing work!

    P.S. I really like that your mom made a comment here about this interview I found. This is the kind of thing I do to my kids, and it is easy to see why she is so proud of you!!

  23. If ASK can go worldwide how difficult could it be for Yahoo??
    I’m talking about the Israeli market, a large enough market for google to start an office there, MSN Israel is charging about $1000 a year to appear in their sponsored results (so many results that you can hardly find the organic results, but Yahoo doesn’t even seem to care.

    I agree that the search engine field is the a very interesting field today, but something about it must change cause people are losing faith in it due to all the spams results appear everywhere you look.

  24. Matt – please just don’t tell us that your failure to post means you are working on the *political* version of safesearch.

  25. Thanks for the encouragement. The Google optimism and altruism at is strong in this one. I’m working for on the crawlers and back-end services. It’s fun competing with the big guys will still being a little guy. We will likley stay little as long as G, Y and M keep hiring away all the fresh Ph.D’s we make offers to. Like Yahoo, we are focused on becoming #1 in the U.S. search market, but are hopeful that the international markets, further away from the Google reality distortion, will bear more popularity and traffic.

  26. Matt – started to notice that G is finding sites that have no links to them – is G starting to crawl sites directly from the registars?

  27. And what about other Central European languages, like Hungarian? Let’s see whether there is
    1.)a translated interface, 2.) an option for searching only for pages written in Hungarian, 3.) a site under the .hu domain

    yes, yes, yes

    MSN Search:
    yes, yes, no

    Yahoo! Search
    no, yes, no

    Ask Jeeves
    no, no, no

    So definitely Ask has a long way to go… 🙂

  28. Joe, I’ve been busy, but not on that. I’ll leave that subject to Andrew’s post at

  29. Thanks for that link Matt – a very thoughtful post by Andrew.

    I’m not as optimistic about the future of censorship in China but I’m also tired of hearing the shrill commentary implying that we’ve “perfected” free speech here in the USA. “All the free speech money can buy” is hardly a perfect model for a free and open democracy. Some suggest we already have a state run TV network and it’s called “FOX NEWS”.

    Luckily the internet is a far more powerful distributive mechanism than most reckon and information will flow past most of the roadblocks very quickly.

    I just hope all the good folks at Google are choosing to help break down the roadblocks rather than helping to set them up.

  30. Thanks Matt for making a post concerning the international market especially a post on a language like German which uses characters that are not in the normal Roman character sets. My personal expertise is in the Japanese market.

    I’d love to get a quote from you on the progress of Google & IDN domains. I’ve been doing research on my forums & we thought at first that IDN domains couldn’t get Google pagerank but one of our members found a spanish website that was only accessible through the IDN domain that had pagerank. All of mine that I’ve put backlinks on & are the only domain for the sites do not get any PR at all.

    Anyway I also see that Google already displays IDN domains in it’s native character set if you do the searches on the international Google site.

    Any idea why most newer IDN domains don’t get PR. Most of the members on my forum have been through thousands & we only found one with PR…

    Anyway you guys are doing great…

  31. chandrika

    Dear Matt,
    In the webmaster quality guidelines it stated –

    * Avoid hidden text or hidden links.

    There are so many really nice js and css menu systems, that use the show/hide layer function and I wonder whether by including that code in a webpage for legitimate reasons, the site could be penalised. Someone has said to me that this guideline is only referring to things like same color text and bckgrd, but I want to be sure that using a show/hide layer menu system I am not deviating from the guidelines. Could you tell me please, does this guideline mean that menus using such a show/hide layer system, could be detrimental to a sites ranking in Google?

  32. Ralf

    I think it is reasonable to add this to my post above about a search on my hometown. .
    A post at WMW and mentioned at seroundtable says “Has ASK Jeeves Updated its Index?”
    So, I checked again for my hometown. The results are really up to date and accurate now. Well done.

  33. Michael Schneider

    Hi Matt!
    It is my 1st post to your blog, thank you for all that information you have gathered here.

    My question is concerning IDN’s
    I found a few idn domains that are indexed in serp’s but,to make a specific example there’s 1 Greek idn showing on 1st page though this same site is not even indexed on

    There are more different language idn’s with the same situation

    Can you please explain why this might happen?
    Is it possible google didnt get to updating its algo for its cc sites?

    Thanks in advance,