Teoma launched in 2001 and was acquired that same year by Ask Jeeves. Ask Jeeves acquired Direct Hit in January 2000 (for a whopping $500 million) and then failed to capitalize on it. The main aim of that purchase seems to have been to get their hands on Direct Hits promising method of measuring clickthroughs to improve search results. The Teoma acquisition seems very similar except for the price estimated at around 4 million.
The driving force behind the purchase was access to Teomas link analysis technology, not its URL or brand name. It seemed to me that Teoma would wither away and be closed down just like Direct Hit so I asked Alexa Rudin, Director of Communication at Ask Jeeves:
Heres part of the response:
Sounds fairly rehearsed, but I checked the claims and it seems that relevance and performance is indeed at an all-time high. This was also apparent in a recent Search Engine Watch study. Teoma is a great little search engine and my personal choice for the title of Googles biggest problem. Theyve got some way to go, but they seem headed in the right direction.
Relevance At Teoma
Like most major search engines, Teoma measures inbound links to web pages. The idea is to improve relevance by determining the authority of each match. Teoma looks at link popularity a little differently though... Rather than count all links to a page, Teoma uses Subject-Specific PopularitySM. That means they only count links from same-subject sites.
Teoma's "Refine, Results & Resources"
Search results at Teoma are broken up into 3 groups. The Results part is the meat the most relevant sites in the Teoma database. In addition, Teoma offers Refine and Resources. In the Refine group Teoma suggests ways to refine your query by automatically categorizing your query into one or more subjects. For example, if I search for Ferrari club (I wish), Teoma would suggest alternative queries like Ferrari, Testarossa club, Michael Schumacher fan club etc.
The Resources group offers links to expert resource sites. Teoma identifies these by grouping sites into local subject communities. If I was looking for Roy Orbison lyrics, Teoma might suggest the official Roy Orbison fan site as an expert resource.
Paying Your Way Into Teoma
You have the option of paid inclusion via Ask Jeeves (which guarantees that your site is added but does not guarantee ranking) or you can use Google AdWords to get your site into Teomas Sponsored Links. Teoma also gets some results from DMOZ.
Notes on Teoma
Another Google challenger?
Not a bad little engine - Teoma quickly became the hot new thing when all the praise Google (rightfully) received became just a bit old. It has the same clean interface as Google, it seems at least as fast as Google - even the style of the logo design is similar to that of Google.
For now, it's not really a match for Google, but many believe that it could challenge Google in search relevancy. Super relevant search results is of course what made Google stand out in the first place.
Teoma uses a very similar system to Google's PageRank
Like Google, Teoma relies heavily on link analysis when it judges the relevancy of pages.
The difference is that Teoma's system does not measure links to page from anywhere on the web - only from a specific collection of documents it deems relevant to a particular search.
Acquired by AskJeeves Inc. on September 9, 2001
AskJeeves acquired the Direct Hit search engine in January 2000 (for a whopping $500 million) and then failed to capitalize on it. The main aim of that purchase seems to have been to get their hands on Direct Hit's promising method of measuring clickthrough to improve search results.
The Teoma acquisition now seems very similar - except for the price - estimated at around 4 million.
Skip Battle, CEO of AskJeeves, said that the Teoma engine will - for now - not be closed down. He also said that they might leave it up forever. Too soon to tell. The driving force behind the purchase was access to Teoma's link analysis technology, not its URL or brand name.
I'd imagine Teoma's popularity during the coming months will be an important factor in their decision.
New innovation: "Expert Links"
Do a search for any popular search term (like "games") and your search results will be accompanied by a list of "Expert Links".
It's a beautiful concept. Sites that list many resources on the particular search and that have many inbound links are seen as expert sites. These are listed along the right hand side of your search results - as a kind of directory by and for the people.
Here's Teoma's own explanation of its "Expert Links":
These web pages, created by topic experts around the world, contain a list of site links on related general subjects. In addition, they often categorize and provide editorial comments on the web links they list, serving as information resource pages for the related subjects.
More on Teoma
Ask Jeeves Acquires Teoma (Article)
Search start-up answers Ask Jeeves' call (Article)
Search start-ups seek Google's throne (Article)
This page is based on information contained in the Search Engine Yearbook 2003. For more detailed search engine information & help, please refer to the current version of the book.
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