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search this site ?

 9:02 am on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

A client of mine has requested a search facility on a new site that I'm building for him.

As I'm not a programmer can anyone point me in the right direction with this



 9:54 am on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think I may have found the solution myself using java script from our friends at javascript.internet.com, but as this is completely unnone to me any help or guidance would be appreciated


 6:19 pm on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi tigger,

I work with one client that really hurt themselves with a site search. We've fixed some of the problems, but here's the heads up on possible issues we uncovered:

Consider this -- a new visitor searches a word or phrase, and if they get no results, you may have lost them immediately. In this case, you are worse off than not having a search utility. It can be like advertising the site's weakness, instead of adding a strength.

In order to be successful, a site search often needs to be a bit "fuzzy". That is, it should at least account for common misspellings and synonyms that are not literally in your copy, and return useful pages to your visitor.

Building and maintaining a top-end fuzzy search solution can consume time and money, but it's worth considering if the client is serious about doing business on the web. One of the best site searches I've ever used is at Amazon -- I'm sure they threw major resources into it, and continue to do so. Every reasonable search I do there returns SOME suggestion, no matter how I mangle the spelling.

One of the most useful things about site search is the ability to log unsuccessful searches. At the very least, the site owners get a report of what their users are looking for. If the design allows it, you can also modify your lookup and add in these unsuccessful search terms and some related pages that weren't pcked up by the literal indexing. This adds a practical degree of fuzziness. You can also write the terms into your content and re-index.

One last comment, sites who have a search function often allow that fact to excuse them from maintaining sound information architecture and navigation. It's a temptation that can kill site stickiness in relatively short period of time.

Given these caveats, if the site has the resources, I suggest outsourcing the search function. One of my clients uses FreeFind to good success. They offer a range of services beginning at free and going up to high end enterprise solutions. I haven't tried their high end service, but given the strength of their free and minimally priced offerings, I think they are a strong operation.


 6:41 pm on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster,

I understand what you are saying about being fuzzy and possibly losing viewers :(

Found the FreeFind thingy

Thanks again for all your help & advice


 8:09 am on Mar 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think the best site along these lines is Avi Rappoport's Search Tools.com [searchtools.com]. It is the black book of site search.


 10:04 am on Mar 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld uses the Fluid Dynamics Search Engine [xav.com] for its own site search [searchengineworld.com], so you can try for yourself right here and see if you like it. I use version 1.0 of the same - called Xavatoria - on my profile site, where it has indexed 800+ pages. Not as snazzy as 2.0, but it gets a lot of traffic and no one has complained yet.


 10:15 am on Mar 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

rencki, brett

thanks, looks like my saturday is now taken up with trying to understand this.

I may need to hit the help button if you don't mind :)


 4:49 pm on Mar 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Go right ahead, tigger. I should mention that I am no programmer either, but still managed to install and customize 1.0 without problems. Getting 2.0 up and running is a real no-brainer, judging from the documentation. (No point in asking Brett about that - everything is simple to that man.)


 6:25 am on Mar 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

Just noticed that the WmW site search also returns content from off-site pages that are linked from our threads, as well as the on-site threads themselves. Is that an optional feature the Fluid Dynamics Search Engine, or is it inevitable?


 6:56 am on Mar 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think you are seeing two things Tedster.
1) you can index the links themselves so a search for a link itself will show (I only had this on for part of the index as it can really balloon the database).
2) notice the drop down now includes "Search Engine News". I am now indexing all the stories the search engine news spiders gather for the headline news page on Search Engine World. It was one of the top requested features over the last year at SEW. I am thinking of making that a stand alone option.

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