Ask.com has recently announced the inclusion of RSS Smart Answers in their search results. Smart Answers are the answers you see at the top of the page above the actual search results.
According to the Ask.com blog, the Smart Answers will feature RSS feeds of the last 3 posts when searches are performed for particular blogs or feeds. The initial release is only providing the feeds from the most popular sources as determined by their Bloglines users, with more feeds promised in the near future.
While the initiative is a great start, it will become more useful as more feeds are added. The true value of the service will be achieved when relevant feed content is offered for searches beyond just actual blogs or feeds. Currently, results only appear when you search for a particular blog title (i.e. TechCrunch).
In the short term, it would be handy for greater drill down/search abilities to be included in the Smart Answers results. Links to Ask.com’s blogsearch and even the ability to subscribe to the displayed feeds would be quick enhancements that improve Smart Answer’s usability.
That said, it’s good to see Ask.com setting the trend. None of the other major search engines like Google and Yahoo! have really integrated feeds into their search results. While some incorporate news content, there is still scope to give greater prominence to blogs and other user-generated content sources in search results. It’s only a matter of time before they are!