Creating a usable search page


Introduktion, Söksidan

In this document, we have collected inspiration and advice on how to use SiteSeeker's features and options in order to get maximum business value from your search function.

Guidelines and checklist for search pages

There are many ways to integrate SiteSeeker with websites, CMS and application servers. The following guidelines are based on our extensive experience of user behaviour on our customers' search pages. The items presented are not mandatory, however, we recommend that you consider them when starting a SiteSeeker project.

Test your own search page with the help of this checklist!

Clear and comprehensive search interface

The single most important point while designing a search page is to make it clear and easy to understand for the user.

Placement of search box
A clear and uniform placement is important, a search box in the header is preferable.
Placement of search results
Place the search results in the top of the page, at least four-five search results should be visible without having to scroll down.
Placement of segmentation
Make sure all segments are visible even with a smaller screen, the user must be able to understand which search results are the most relevant.
Is the font big enough?
It should be easy to page between different search results pages. The titles of the hits and images if there are any should be clickable.
Faceted search is preferred over an advanced search form (i.e. filtering before the search is actually performed).
Provide relevant information
The user should be able to understand what is happening, what the result was as well as why.
Displaying the search query
SiteSeeker provides a easy-to-understand description of the user's query that can be used as a headline for results.
Display how many search results there are
Print out of the total number of search results (automatic if the query description above is used)
Error message when no results are found
Clearly highlight if query did not produce any hits
Clear spelling suggestions
Display the spelling suggestion clearly
Do the documents/pages have relevant titles?
Examine the results and determine if titles seem ok and do not repeat.
Is the correct date for the search results being displayed?
Make sure both webpages and documents have the correct date
Are snippets and description good?
Make sure no navigational text from the web pages are displayed in the results list.
Are file formats of documents displayed?
If search results are of a different type than HTML, display this in the search results list. This can be done either by a text label ("PDF") or an icon.
Are categories or breadcrumbs printed?
Breadcrumbs or categories in the results page instantly shows from which part of the website the results come from.
Are search terms in titles and snippets highlighted?
Highlighting search terms shows why the user have received results for a certain search term
Do you get relevant search results for common search queries?
Use existing search statistics, if available, to compile a top list of frequent search queries.

Do you get good results for common search terms?

Take advantage of SiteSeeker's feature

SiteSeeker has many great features, all created in order for the user to find the right information fast.

Are you aware of the following features in SiteSeeker?

Query completion
SiteSeeker displays query completions, a smarter kind of autocomplete, while the user is typing in the search box.
Query refinement
SIteSeeker automatically suggests additional search terms to help the user drill down into results.
SiteSeeker can sort the search results according to relevance, date, popularity or title (perfect for product search or for list of employees).
Image search
If you are indexing images, make sure they are easily searchable and take advantage of thumbnails automatically created by SiteSeeker.
Search for metadata
SiteSeeker can index custom meta data attributes, perfect for product, employee or document search.
Secure documents
SiteSeeker's access control feature extends the security of your CMS to the search function. Make sure that users only see what they are supposed to, and that the web service is password protected.
Monitor the search statistic and analyse if there is a need to add synonyms
Best bets
Monitor the search statistic and analyse if there is a need to add best bets.

Don't let technology become an obstacle for the website visitor

There are a number of technical considerations to take into account when designing the search page in order to make it accessible and useful for all kinds of users.

Search query in the url
We recommend putting all search parameters in the URL
Web browser supports back/forward
Use GET instead of POST in order to avoid unnecessary error messages in the web browser.
Does the search work without JavaScript?
The search page should degrade gracefully if users have turned off JavaScript, i.e. it should still be possible to search, even if the user does not get the full experience.
Are JavaScript links supplemented with <a href> tags?
SiteSeeker and other global search engines cannot follow links in JavaScript so always add regular <a href> tags to allow all information to be indexed.
Is search supported by different web browsers?
Test the search page in all common browsers. Do not forget Safari for IOS or the Android web browser.
Is any placeholder text cleared from the search box?
Make sure that any placeholder text is not used as a search query if the user clicks the search button without entering any text.
Does the return/enter key work as OK/Search?
Having entered a search query, is it enough to press enter to search? Please note the difference in behaviour in previous versions of Internet Explorer.
Does language specific characters work (å, ä, ö, ø, æ)?
Å, ä, ö and other language specific special characters should be taken into consideration with regards to search and be displayed correctly in spelling suggestions, Query completion and category names.
Is duplicate content properly removed?
Visit the guide Limitation of indexing for information about how you can exclude pages from indexing.
Has indexing been completed without error messages?
Check the reports in SiteSeeker Admin to ensure that the maximum link depth and indexing limits has not been exceeded.
Enable indexing protection
Activate indexing protection in SiteSeeker Admin

Dead links and unreachable links
Test the special search query link:dead or review the report Dead links in SiteSeeker Admin

Do not let technology become an obstacle for the editor

A developer of search pages, you should make sure that the statistical data in SiteSeeker Admin can be reviewed by the website editors.

Are you using Robots.txt?
There should be a robots.txt-file in the website root which will exclude the search page from being indexed in order to avoid unnecessary load and corrupt statistical data.
Does the search page have the tag <META name="robots" content="NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW" />
Use meta tags on the search page as a supplement for robot.txt.
Does click tracking and session handling work?
Review the guide Statistical support for information about methods regarding click tracing.
Are there segmented search pages or lists that may affect statistics?
Review the guide Statistical support for information about methods regarding statistics.