free html hit counter Speaking of Ask, Check Out Answers - John Battelle's Search Blog

Speaking of Ask, Check Out Answers

By - May 24, 2005 traffic has spiked since it got the nod from Google for its definition service. Here’s a comparison traffic graph with Ask on Alexa. Impressive. See that spike in the blue line? That’s when Google started pointing to it (right after it shed its sub model and went free).

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8 thoughts on “Speaking of Ask, Check Out Answers

  1. Greg Linden says:

    Hi, John. Hey, I’m curious. Do you think Google will stick with Or do you think they’ll soon replace it with something homegrown?

    Seems like Google could do pretty well with a quick combination of Google Q&A, Wikipedia, and a dictionary. Sounds like a 20% time project to me.

  2. Paul Hehn says: seems to be getting good traction, that’s for sure. Anecdotal evidence: my 5th grader came home recently saying “the teacher told us to go to for our reports.” My experience in the last few years is that “google” has been the limit of many teachers’ experience with the Web.

    Full disclosure: our site,, is partnered with

  3. Like Wikipedia’s own traffic, Google drives SO MUCH traffic on the Web, it can make any site a top 100 site overnight. You can’t tell me that the average Web user is typing in to find things. But you do see it as a top 10 Google result ALL THE TIME. That is where their traffic is coming from. Same thing for It isn’t 5th graders. Look at that graph more carefully and you see that the traffic has leveled out after the initial boost. (What’s happened to’s in the same period?)

    Also remember that few people have downloaded Alexa since 1999 when they were buying downloads, so whats left is a very tech-savvy audience full of webmasters, ie not the average web user. (Speaking of which, why doesnt Nielsen or Comscore come out with a free product? Alexa gets so much coverage because its the only thing people can see and measure by. But it’s completely inaccurate. I’m sorry but Fastclick as the #8 English language site? Give me a break.)

    Its a good brand opportunity so lets see what they really do with it. But in the end, they are dependent on Google now for their traffic.

    One other thing. As a user, my biggest problem with is the name, which is misleading. The site doesnt have Answers, it just has encyclopedia pages. If you try to get actual answers to things, it just comes back with Google results. You have to query one of the encyclopedia topics to get an “answer”, whcih is a bunch of sources piled together on one page. Useful when you need it, though I’d just go to wikipedia for it.

  4. Speaking of which, why doesnt Nielsen or Comscore come out with a free product?

    They do, but mainly for top 20 and some specialty sites

  5. So, let’s compare the top two reference sites:

  6. Jim Geurts says:

    Can you post a bigger picture of the graph?

  7. Greg Linden says:

    Jim, you can get a bigger picture of the graph from Alexa. A direct link is below:

    But, as Gary said, Alexa is inaccurate. It’s better than nothing, but not by much. Be careful of what you conclude from their data.

  8. We should just ask how they maintained traffic. The answer is either:

    a) Google built their brand – which would be a huge score for; or:

    b) They found another way to drive traffic, given they knew they were going to lose the deal; and/or:

    c) Alexa just isn’t accurate given it’s among a small, unrepresentative audience.

    My guess is B and C, but I suppose the only way you can argue that Google is affecting Answers is to say it affected Dictionary.