internet/ask.gifGoogle is great for searching, but now there is another search tool that you might find even better.

internet/ask.gifWhen Google came on the Internet scene a few years ago, everyone started using it because it was superior to the other search engines at that time. Over the last few years, there has been little competition. I occasionally use ixquick (www.ixquick.com) or some other search engine, but like many others, I have become a dedicated Google user.  However, that may change with a new format now being used by Ask.com (www.ask.com).

Although Google's interface is good, I think the new Ask interface is even better. It serves up the results in an innovative format that I find very simple and appealing. The Ask results page is divided into three columns which are easy to visually peruse and it gives a lot more information than Google.

Let's use a simple search for "Mickey Mouse" at Ask.com as an example. Instead of a list of search results, Ask.com returns a list of possible related items in the left column. In that column there are choices for the History of Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Wallpaper, Mickey Mouse Club, First Mickey Mouse, etc. In that column there are also links to expand your search by directly searching for other Disney Characters, and Related Names.

The main column in the middle shows a short history of Mickey with links to his official website and encyclopedia entries on Mickey. After that come the typical sponsored (paid) results, which have become the norm for Google and other search engines. Following that, like Google and others, you will see a list of many links for Mickey Mouse and related websites, which goes on for many pages.

The right column of the Ask results page is especially enticing. It has images of Mickey, his Wikipedia entry, videos that can be played right from that page, and news and shopping ideas that relate to Mickey Mouse.

All the information on the page is given in a simple format that is easy to read. If you look at the entire page you are bound to see links to appealing information about Mickey Mouse, plus whatever you are looking for about Mickey Mouse.

Google has also revised their search results page to include images and news. However, in contrast Google's results page for Mickey Mouse puts several images first, news results second, and web links after that. Since all the main results are in one column and are simply labeled differently, the information is actually much more difficult to decipher.

 To see the difference yourself, just Google "Mickey Mouse", then surf over to Ask.com and enter the same name. If you want to be a bit more serious, compare the Ask results to Google's information about "George Washington" or some other more serious name. I think you will be quite surprised by the difference. Ask.com made it easier to find interesting information on just about every subject that I tried.

Ask.com is based on a different type of search technology, called Teoma, which uses what Ask.com explains as "a clustering concept of subject-specific popularity". While it may be difficult to understand exactly what that means, to the end user it means that the search results using Ask.com will be different than the results from Google and other search engines that use different technologies. That is very good because Ask.com gives the searcher a better interface plus different results. If you are a dedicated Googler, you don't have to stop using Google. You can just use Ask.com when you want to find more results or differently targeted information.

I'm not yet ready to give up Google, but Ask.com is without a doubt, a great addition to my arsenal of search tools.