Search upstart Teoma releases toolbar

Citing the loudening drumbeat of consumer demand as its impetus, Internet search site Teoma.com unveiled its first Web browser toolbar Tuesday, offering search addicts the ability to perform a Teoma query wherever they are on the Web.

Teoma.com, which was purchased by query site operator Ask Jeeves Inc. in September of last year, has been rapidly gaining users since it was officially launched last April. The search site has expanded from 25,000 users in March of this year to nearly one million users in April, according to New York researcher Nielsen/NetRatings.

Teoma sets itself apart by its search methodology, which ranks sites according to subject-specific popularity, in addition to traditional search methods such as traffic, text analysis and click-through rates. Subject-specific popularity is determined by how many sites on the same subject link to that page. Teoma results are also displayed differently than those of rival sites, with listings grouped under Resource, Results and Refine headers.

The site decided to roll out a toolbar after receiving widespread feedback from users demanding the software tool, according to Jim Lanzone, vice president of product management at Ask Jeeves.

"What they were all saying was toolbar toolbar, toolbar," said Lanzone. "We realized we needed to build one pretty quick."

Because Teoma was eager to respond to user demand, the Teoma toolbar is pretty basic, Lanzone said. Toolbar users can perform a Teoma search from any page on the Web, e-mail Web pages to friends and perform a dictionary search through Merriam-Webster Online.

The software also allows users to turn on a "Highlight" feature which highlights keywords on Web pages so that they can be easily identified. Additionally, linked pages will also show the keywords as highlighted. This is a toggle feature than can be turned on and off.

"We wanted to get it right with the basics and get it out there since the demand is so high," Lanzone said.

For now, the toolbar only works with the Internet Explorer 5.0 browser and higher.

Ask Jeeves, in Emeryville, California, said that it would be introducing updates to the toolbar based on user feedback, however, and may make it compatible with other browsers in future versions.

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