Special Search Tools Issue, Part 1

SearchTools Report: Recommendations for Search Results

Search engines use statistical and lexical analysis to match query terms to indexed text, but sometimes human judgment is more effective. Most of the top search engines now allow administrators to designate recommended pages or links to respond to common queries -- this is sometimes called "Best Bets".

Specialize Your Site's Search - Forrester Report, December 2001 by Kyle Johnson, $595

In covering site search, this report recommends distinguishing ecommerce product search from customer service / tech support search from information full text search, and choosing a search engine for each function separately. Describes current state of site search, including interviews with search admins, discussion of common problems, recommendations for cleaning up content such as page titles and no-matches pages, and improving focus. Includes general descriptions of many search engines.

Usability Test on the Best Number of Search Results Per Page
Academic tests compared search results with 10, 50 and 100 links per page. Found that short and mid-sized pages performed best, that very long scrolling pages were harder to use, and users dislike them.

Getting Them to What They Want - User Interface Engineering Report, $24, November 2001 by Erik Ojakaar and Jared M. Spool
Provocative research report describes the problems with badly-designed search engines, such as commerce searches that do not include site information (such as an Amazon.com search for "return policy"), and those which are not tolerant of spelling and vocabulary variations.

New Search Developers Mailing List
Search Tools editor Avi Rappoport is moderating a new mailing list for search engine developers. Topics for discussion include open source code options, robot spidering and web crawling, index compression, file format conversion, metadata indexing and searching, Boolean and Intranet search operators, index speed and size, stop words, relevance ranking algorithms, stemming, categorized search results, search form and results page user interfaces, search log analysis, security, peer-to-peer search, and anything else that interests the participants.

W3C QUery 1.0 updates
New drafts for QUery 1.0, use cases (with a nice Full-text Search example section), and integration with PAt 2.0.

Boxes and Arrows
A wonderful online magazine and discussion forum for information architecture, designed for practitioners interested in the vital issues of the craft.

Tomorrow: New and updated search tools.

Avi Rappoport, Principal Consultant for Search Tools Consulting, is the leading authority on site, Intranet and topical portal search engines.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

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