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Ask Jeeves Uses Acquisitions To Its Advantage

Question and answer search engine Ask Jeeves Wednesday continued its internal and external makeover.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based company's search engine division began offering two new paid inclusion services dubbed "Index Express" and "Site Submit."

The company said both services are designed for large content providers that need frequent URL updates.

Other recent changes include a redesign of the company home page; simplifying its look and making it look more Google-like and a new tool in its Jeeves Solutions arsenal.

The changes were paramount considering the search engine must make up for lost ground from pay-for-placement competitors like Overture . Ask.com also continues to rank well below Yahoo! , Google, Primedia search engine About.com and Terra Lycos in page views, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Ask Jeeves Index Express' performance-based service charges the content provider each time a user accesses one of their pages through Ask.com or its newly acquired Teoma search index. The search engine's marketing partners include 24/7 Media, Did-it.com, Inceptor, and online marketer TrafficLeader.

Introduced last spring, Site Submit is now out of beta and accepting submissions. For an annual fee, Site Submit lets Web sites with fewer than 1000 URLs to submit their Web pages for inclusion in the Teoma index. Ask Jeeves said Site Submit content is refreshed on a weekly basis. The URL submissions are handled by ineedhits.com.

"Paid inclusion is a timely and low maintenance way for businesses to ensure that their most updated content and information is available to Web users," said Jim Lanzone, vice president of product management for Ask Jeeves.

One of the more significant changes impacts the company's business arm: Jeeves Solutions.

The division Monday unveiled "JeevesOne Enterprise," which the company said is designed to, "improve the efficiency of the Web as a support and sales channel."

The technology takes advantage of portlet software acquired from Octopus.com back in January.

JeevesOne Enterprise is available starting at $155,000 and supports Solaris 2.6,7,8, Windows NT and Windows 2000. Its architecture is based on a multi-tiered J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) application and supports emerging industry standards. The software's security framework can leverage authentication mechanisms including LDAP and NIS.

The platform combines natural language processing, customer intelligence tools and enterprise connectivity to connect and present information stored in multiple systems to give users complete answers to their questions.

For example, an auto insurance customer could ask online "What is the status of claim # 290765?" Jeeves said the insurance company could respond not only with a summary of the claim record, but with all relevant information related to the claim: repair estimates from the autobody shop, photographs of the damage, insurance deductible information, and car rental information.

"Previously, only human customer service agents could deliver this kind of comprehensive response," said Tuoc Luong, senior vice president of products for Jeeves Solutions.

The service has a head start in that Jeeves Solutions' customers already include Dell, Ford, Nestle and Nike.