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Analysing search: follow up to Squiz Summit 2019

On Thursday 7 November 2109, I was asked to speak at the Squiz Summit on how we promote the work we do with our search engine, and how we analyse the performance of search. I realised I hadn’t blogged it previously, so thought I’d summarise here.

Squiz Summit 2019

This was my third Squiz summit, an annual opportunity to catch up with the future directions of technology and product trends. Squiz provides a number of tools with the digital ecosystem (like Matrix, their CMS) – but importantly for us, Funnelback, the search engine we use here at The University of Edinburgh. I like product roadmaps, so I’m well served, but it’s also an opportunity to hear about challenges and successes from others working in digital so that I can “leverage” (steal) some ideas to use here.

Squiz Summit 2019 site

How to make stakeholders care about search

When we were first releasing our search engine, we knew we needed to quickly establish the opportunities running our own search engine could provide. We consulted with interested customers to establish what kinds of things they need from the service, and we established a roadmap so that senior staff could understand our direction of travel, and align their own services with search development. Using the power of structed content, we added rich results for profiles, meaning that at a glance we could set our offering apart from our previous installation.

Analysing search

We also established a regular analysis cycle for search engine results. Using a methodology from Search Analytics for your site – Rosenfeld (2011) we ran the top searches from our site, segmenting for audience where appropriate, and looked at those results. We were looking for the best result to show top regularly, and the top five search results all to be relevant and quality. Doing this gave us a new level of understanding of our users – where else do you get the opportunity to hear exactly what your users are thinking, when they were thinking it? – and also identified content gaps, duplication, poor content and technical issues: a goldmine for extra work, but we’d rather know about it, than not.

How to make stakeholders care about search from Duncan MacGruer

University of Edinburgh search

If you have any questions about our set up, or questions about running search on your University of Edinburgh site, then please have a look at our support pages for full information.

Website search – funnelback installation at The University of Edinburgh

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