A classic on-site search, i.e. the small search field in the upper area of the website, is now part of the basic equipment of every website. Ideally, it works too.
An example: A user searches the website for information about a new product that was mentioned in a newspaper article. Unfortunately, the search did not return any hits. Not so bad if the content is really not stored on the website. But if – for example in a PDF – the information is not displayed in the search results, then that is not only annoying, but a clear omission. Nowadays, an on-site search has to index all the content of a website and make the entire range of information perfectly accessible.
It sounds banal at first, but a good on-site search doesn’t just have to sift through the text information in the databases of the content management system. Video and audio files, PDF documents or images as well as the content of other relevant company / group sites must of course also be indexed and integrated into the search processes.
Quality through relevance, guided navigation & barrier-free access
In addition to the basic functionality, namely finding information, sorting by relevance is also an essential quality feature: What have other users already searched for and which results have they clicked?
With the knowledge, businesses can help visitors find the information they need while determining which terms to display first. A so-called “guided navigation” can be used as a further aid. If necessary, it suggests various suitable topics after entering the search term. Using these search filters or facets, the user can quickly find the really interesting information.
It should not be forgotten that today more and more users are accessing websites and using the search function via various devices such as notebooks, tablets or smartphones. Accordingly, operation and display must be automatically adapted to the respective screen size and resolution. But not only a device, location and time-independent function must be guaranteed, but also that every user can access it without barriers, for example via reading functions and various input aids.
Cloud-based search solutions
Companies are often overwhelmed with the numerous requirements of a professional search. It is easier and more convenient to obtain the service as a cloud solution from a local provider. Companies benefit from the comprehensive service without having to worry about administrative tasks or updates. You also save installation and configuration costs.
Solutions are now available for this which can be integrated into the company website via copy and paste without programming knowledge and without the involvement of the IT department, are easily adaptable and billed monthly. In addition, in most cases the customer can convince himself through test versions of how well the solution works for his special needs.
A look into the future
Many websites still consist of only 50 to 100 pages, but with Big Data, search engines will have to process larger amounts of data. This does not only apply to globally active retailers such as Amazon or eBay, manufacturing companies, energy suppliers, financial service providers and pharmaceutical companies also have to process a huge amount of data quickly. Therefore, a search engine should be able to index information quickly and search it in real time. A good cloud service scales automatically and dynamically.
Search assistance services are also becoming more and more important. For example, they bring different websites together, help to understand the search input and may one day be able to predict what the user currently needs. For example, a diabetic usually looks for other “health tips” than an asthmatic.
Ultimately, the boundaries between the various sources of information are falling more and more. Whether professional or private applications: Search engines have to evaluate all data across the board, regardless of its origin, form or use. With behavior analysis and further information, the user receives exactly what he was looking for with a relatively general word or language input.