Will Ask.com's AskEraser Impact the Edison Algorithm and its SERPs?


Will Ask.com’s AskEraser Impact the Edison Algorithm and its SERPs?

Search Engine Land today posted news about a new feature on Ask.com called AskEraser which grants users the ability to search anonymously.

Ask.com's AskEraser

Users concerned about their online privacy now have an advocate. But how will this affect Ask.com’s search results? Ask.com combines both Teoma and Direct Hit into an algorithm named Edison. Edison is unique in that it is based on a User Reference Query. Quite simply put, a User Reference Query provides a factual answer rather than matching keywords. For example, if a user searches for “Michael Owen,” Ask.com will return a brief biography and a record of his playing career and the goals he’s scored (unlike searching for sitening where Ask.com will ask me if I meant “stoning” — grrrr!). However, most importantly, Edison utilizes the queries made by users to influence future SERPs. Barry Schwartz asked Jim Lanzone, CEO of Ask.com, how this might impact Ask.com’s relevancy.

Since Ask.com tends to use search queries in their Edison algorithm, how might missing this data impact results? Jim explained that the data used in their algorithms for relevancy is done on a “sampling basis”. He said that if 100% of Ask.com’s users adopt the use of AskEraser then Ask.com would have to “modify a lot of what we do.” Ask.com would embrace that change, since it means Ask has hit on “something super important to users.”

So if all of the Ask.com users opted to turn on AskEraser, how would the search engine provide relevant results — bearing in mind that the Edison algorithm uses search queries in its data? I can only assume that they will have to capture, save and apply the query data eventually, but in a way that is completely anonymous to the user (if that’s even possible). Otherwise, I think it will definitely impact the Edison-based SERPs.

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