Get Federated – Let your Searchers Look In All the Right Places
The fix is federation. We have seen requirements for federated search solutions often over the past several years, and it makes sense. A federated search is able to combine content from multiple data sources into a single repository, or search index, so that users can search across all of the included content in a single search instance. Federation should be high on your wish for your next generation search.
Your Search needs to be Tuned
The tuning process should start with an effort to identify common search phrases and an evaluation of how well these search phrases are handled by the search engine. If the engine isn’t responding with the content expected AND in the priority desired, your tech team may be able to help, possibly just by configuring the solution provided.
If you are about to embark on the implementation of a new web platform, be sure time is allotted for tuning the search engine.
Search Results – Form Is Just as Important As Function
- Structure content so it can be tagged and related in the back end, mostly so filters can be applied strategically to the results.
- Assure your search results template is integrated to accept user authentications. This is so logged in users can get tailored results tied to their user account.
- Include a thumbnail image, especially if the result is for an image gallery or video.
- If the result is for an event, include the event date, perhaps within a snappy calendar icon.
- For some kinds of content, including the publication date in the search result can be useful.
- For users (staff individuals or members/organizations), consider pushing the phone number, email, and office location in the result.
The information chosen to display in the search results should probably be different for each different type of content. And to be clear: we are not suggesting you have multiple search engines for different types of content, but rather, that a single search engine instance can include multiple kinds of content and dynamically adjust the information displayed with each result.
Consider An Outboard Engine – You May Need the Performance
- Features: Improvements might include the capability to better address the points mentioned above. Additionally, outboard search solutions are designed to be more flexible and customizable. So, while it may be possible to achieve a greatly improved search solution by customizing your CMS, it may be easier to accomplish with a 3rd party platform. Also, 3rd party search solutions can provide consulting and implementation services to help assure success.
- Performance: Gains possible with a 3rd party solution can include improvements both for the actual keyword search, as well as the bandwidth required indexing the content. That is, If you steal capacity from the server for an intensive operation like the indexing function, the rest of the site might suffer. Regarding the latter, it is sometimes the case that the standard search engine indexes the site content using the same web server resources (CPU) that are responsible for serving site pages.