Ask Jeeves has unveiled two enhancements to its search engine, promising increased ease of use.
The company said that its new 'Zoom' technology will help users by offering to expand or narrow a search, or by suggesting related keywords.
Search results for 'Beatles', for example, would include an offer to 'zoom in' to lyrics, biographies or history.
Asking to 'zoom out' would add results like 'Rolling Stones' and 'Woodstock'. The related search would point to 'John Lennon' and other band members.
The feature can help users find specific results even if they enter broad search queries, according to Daniel Read, vice president of product management at Ask Jeeves.
"Searchers don't want to spend time formulating and entering involved search terms," he said. "As a result, queries are frequently short or ambiguous."
The company also unveiled an improved version of its Web Answers that lets users phrase their queries as questions rather than by using keywords.
The previous version used structured databases as its main information source, but the updated software adds regular web pages to the pool of information sources.
"Web Answers allows Ask Jeeves to answer far more queries than would be possible using editors or structured databases," said Read. "By mining unstructured web data, we can tap the billions of pages in our index for answers."
Ask Jeeves is one of the four major search engines that own and develop their own search technology. The website is trailing behind Google, Yahoo and MSN Search when it comes to visitors.
The company was recently acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp, one of the world's largest web publishers with properties including Evite.com, Hotels.com and Ticketmaster.com.
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