Are your users finding the needle?

needleinhayLet’s buy a Search engine and let it do the job! I guess you are aware of the integration needed as well but I would not be surprised if you did not think of the work needed after acceptance testing is done and Search Engine paid for.

To make the search engine work well in your environment it takes some effort even after installation. You need to dedicate someone to check on your search engine at least weekly. What are your users searching for, do they get results on their searches and if they get results do they use the results.

A weekly check-up should at least consist of the following tasks:

  • Top search phrases
    Once a week check the top 10 or 50 search phrases. Do the same searches and check the results. Are you (who is familiar with the content) satisfied with the top hits in the result? If not see if you need to add synonyms, change ranking of results or use other feature in your search engine to get the correct search result.
  • Top search phrases, missing hits?
    Are your users searching on your domain for content that is not there? Should it be? If it should add it if it should not be there why not create a page telling the users that this info is not available on your site but help them with hints, links or similar on how to find it. It cannot hurt to be loved and remembered by your users.
  • Searches with hits where no one uses the search results
    Often the search engine can tell you what search phrases use resulted in no click through. By just looking at the phrases and the result you can often understand why the results are of no interest to the user and often this can be amended by changing the ranking or adding synonyms.
  • The list is longer on what you should do … but start with this!