Ask Jeeves has a new image search engine and it is ready for its close-up, the company said Tuesday.The image engine is the first to use an index and technology developed internally by Ask Jeeves. Previously, Ask Jeeves relied on partner Picsearch AB to power its image engine.Ask Jeeves has fine-tuned its image-search algorithms. To rank image search results, Ask Jeeves measures their "authoritativeness" within their "topic community," and it employs image-recognition technologies to sharpen the relevance, according to the company. In addition, search suggestions specifically developed for image search offer users alternative terms related to their query, the company says.Ask Jeeves, owned by IAC\/InterActiveCorp., says it invested in improving its image search because it is its second most popular type of search, accounting for 16% of queries.Considering that the image search engine fields such a large percentage of total queries, it makes sense for Ask Jeeves to enhance it, said Gary Price, news editor of SearchEngineWatch.com. "That's why it's such a high priority," he said.The popularity of image searching will continue to grow as will usage of multimedia search engines as people increasingly browse the Web looking for songs, music videos, podcasts and television shows, he said.Price also credits Ask Jeeves for being a pioneer in featuring image results on its main general Web search page, thus complementing the traditional text list of Web site links with items from the image index.Surfacing items from specialty indexes such as images on the general Web search engine is important in educating users about the existence of other types of search services, Price said.It has been shown that many search engine users only use general Web search engines, even when Ask Jeeves, Google and the other major operators prominently feature tabs to conduct special searches of, for example local businesses, discussion groups, news and products, Price said.