Ask Jeeves goes local with Citysearch search engine will serve up information on businesses in a specific area

Ask Jeeves Inc. will bolster the ability of its search engine to respond to queries that seek information about a specific geographic location.

Through a licensing deal with IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s Citysearch unit, Ask Jeeves's search engine will serve up information on businesses located in a specific area. Thus, will provide information on, for example, restaurants in New York City, museums in Philadelphia, parks in Chicago or bars in Los Angeles.

The information will come from Citysearch, which specializes in this type local business information, providing not only basic data such as business names and addresses, but also reviews and ratings created by Citysearch editors and users.

Ask Jeeves is announcing its partnership with Los Angeles-based Citysearch on Tuesday and expects to start delivering this type of information either this month or in September, said Jim Lazone, Ask Jeeves' senior vice president of search properties.

Ask Jeeves, in Emeryville, California, doesn't plan to add a search tab for this type of local business information to its search engine, Lazone said. Instead, it is making it part of its Smart Search technology, which is designed to let the search engine detect what type of information a user is looking for, he said. Thus, in this case, the search engine would deliver local-business information if it determines that's what the user is looking for, based on hints in the query, such as geographical or location terms.

The search engines from rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. already let users search for businesses in specific locations.

Prior to this deal with Citysearch, Ask Jeeves already let users search for information tied to a particular area, such as maps, driving directions, weather, people search and movies.

The deal with Ask Jeeves isn't exclusive, although it is the first time that Citysearch data will be served up from a third-party search engine as a result of queries, said Briggs Ferguson, Citysearch's chief executive officer. Citysearch also has agreements with Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Internet division and Yahoo to provide them with local-business content.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.