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Ask Jeeves turns up heat in online-search battle

Ask Jeeves on Monday is set to announce upgrades to its Ask.com site as it moves to up the ante in its battle for the hearts and minds of Internet search users.
Ask Jeeves is among the Web-search shops working to woo new users and increase visibility in a market dominated by privately held Google, the Silicon Valley company behind a technological leap that made searching more effective and is credited for moving Web search into the mainstream.
Company executives said Ask Jeeves' "Smart Search" upgrade helps users more quickly and intuitively find what they seek on the Web by making it easier to tailor search queries for information, pictures, products or news.
According to recent research from Nielsen/NetRatings, the Web's top search destinations are Google, followed by Web portals run by Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL Time Warner. Google supplies search technology to AOL, Yahoo and others.
Ask Jeeves the second-most popular search engine behind Google is the No. 5 Web search destination.
Steve Berkowitz, Ask Jeeves' president of Web properties, told Reuters there is room for his firm and a couple others to thrive in the fast-moving Internet search market, where Yahoo recently snapped up search engine Inktomi and search-advertising firm Overture Services.
Berkowitz said Web search is still in its infancy and that the technology remains imperfect. As a result, he said, Ask Jeeves has worked to give Web searchers an alternative: "People like to access information in different ways. We've always taken the approach of not trying to out Google Google."
Industry analysts and other Google competitors say the technology gap between Google and its rivals is closing, and agree there is room for more than one Web search provider in the market.
While Web search technology itself is not a huge revenue driver, good search results help spur traffic to Internet sites and are a key factor behind revenues from advertising services that are linked to Web search results. Google and Overture both provide such advertising services and share revenue from them with partners such as AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN Internet services division.

Source: USA Today
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