As of January, 2012, this site is no longer being updated, due to work and health issues
What is a Web Site Search Tool
And Why Would I Want One?
You put a lot of work into your site, whether you're a hobbyist or a corporate web designer. But the amount of content is not the only issue: to have value, your site must be accessible. You should certainly consider your overall site architecture, and your navigation options, but many people will need to locate a specific topic right away, and don't want to follow links. In other cases, visitors will come to your site for a reason you could never anticipate, and will not find the prearranged navigation links very useful.
For example, if you have a site about your town, visitors who are researching architecture, women's history and city planning will all have different needs and will approach your site differently. It's great that they can all get something from your site -- it's what makes the Web so special -- but you can never anticipate what they'll want!
A Web Site Search Tool gives your visitors a chance to find something on
your site by searching, much like the search engines such as AltaVista, HotBot
or Google. Because your site is focussed on a particular area or topic, a
site search tool will allow visitors to find the information quickly and without
wading through hundreds of irrelevant results. It will keep them on your site,
and will allow you to learn more about what your visitors are looking for.
Who Needs a Web Site Search Tool
- Sites with valuable data in many pages. The exact number of pages is hard to define, as it depends on the density of the data. If you have more than 50 book reviews, for example, visitors will wish to search for other books by the same author, or other books they've heard about.
- Sites which get many visitors arriving from search engines at pages deep within the site hierarchy.
- Growing sites that are adding new and valuable information.
Who Doesn't Need a Web Site Search Tool
- Very small sites where the data is easy to locate.
- Sites which are lists of links focussed on one topic, with excellent navigation structure, such as JobSmart.
- Catalogs and other database-based sites, where the content is entirely stored in the database rather than static HTML. They need a database search tool, rather than a site search tool.
- Sites that are works of art, games, or entertaining in and of themselves; where the site is the content.
What to Do Next
- Think about where a search field would fit in your page design.
- Add meta keyword tags and descriptions to your pages, which will also improve your look and feel when your page summaries are displayed by webwide search engines.
- If you are running a hosted site (not on your own server), ask your ISP what search services they provide. You may have to pay some additional fees for search tools. If they do not provide these tools, check with friends who have servers. A search engine does not have to reside on the local server.
- Web Administrators should read the Guide to
Site Search Tools.