Presentation by Search Tools Consulting's Avi Rappoport

Intranet Search: Best Practices


Avi Rappoport

Search Tools Consulting


Presented at the KMWorld/Intranets 2006 Conference


Improving Search - The Big Picture


Why Not Just Use Google / Yahoo / Ask?

Information Needs Analysis

[old story: oil company bidding against itself, Brunei office vs. Dubai office]

Plan for Change

[cu story: couldn't find company store, added a suggestion and made CEO happy.]


Technical Problems: Divide & Conquer

Content Inventory

ROT- defined in Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld's Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, aka the O'Reilly Polar Bear Book -- a vastly useful book.

[me: go, cafeteria menus not online, server with robots.txt]


Rich Indexing For Better Results


About Modification Dates

A checksum simply adds all bytes in an item, reducing it it to a number. If anything changes in the item, the checksum will be different. This is good enough for most cases, though it doesn't indicate what changed. For more information, see:

Metadata and Entity Extraction

[ex: chemical company used it to find chemical names with chaotic vocabulary]

Indexing Multimedia

[ex: web site for discovery channel]


The Search Process


Query Processing and Retrieval

talk at ESS, tested match any vs. match all: results were almost the same except match any found some valuable ones that match all didn't]

Relevance Ranking

[hp story: searching for product numbers, had to push down tech support tickets]

[cu story: press releases tended to get pushed up]

Elements of Search Results

Search suggestions are sometimes called Best Bets, QuickLinks or Recommendations

[salon problem: search within]

Results Page Example


Note: example from has site design and navigation, basic web-type interface, searched-for phrase in red, number of hits, page titles, "free" flag, match terms in context, category links for context. Not so good: no search field front and center, color-coding for categories seems too subtle.


Taxonomy Integration

[cu: fedex issue.]

Security & Access Control

Faceted Metadata in Results

new big thing

Faceted Metadata Example

Example from - note that the facets on the left side include type and current issues; further down are Human health condition, Contamination agent, Exposure pathway, Ecological effects, Infrastructure, Publisher, Date and others. Each of them has a preview number, so it's clear how many items will be there when the user clicks

Dealing With Search Failure

Example - Good No-Matches Page

Reality Check - Search Log Analysis

[party planning site: empty searches grabbing everything]

Using Analytics to Tune Search

[-- party planning: Superbowl vs. Super Bowl] -- cu: domain names, product line sale, acronym not on front page]

Personalization in Search

Relevance often changes even in the same query session -- see Marcia Bates The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques

Google personalization guy, me: Barney Google

Complex Research Tasks

Measure Search Progress

stuff here to make space



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