Ask.com is abandoning its web crawling system in favour of a return to its question and answer roots, which may mean search engine optimisation specialists need to consider a tailored strategy for utilising the site.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land reported the company is downscaling its wide-ranging search algorithms in favour of a more selective system aimed at providing users with answers to specific questions.

The move will see the loss of around 100 jobs as the company closes its offices in China and New Jersey, he noted.

Mr Sullivan observed that as a dedicated Q&A service, Ask.com "may have some potential" as it will be aiming at a niche market, for which it already has a reputation, despite not operating in that area for several years.

He highlighted internal figures from the organisation that show the site has greater brand awareness than Google among people who are seeking to have a question answered.

Ask.com has struggled to challenge the major players in the search engine market in recent times, with comScore's latest figures showing it held just a 3.7 per cent share of the sector in September.

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