I spotted this presentation on tuning up site search by Chris Farnum from Enlighten at the IA Summit 2007 earlier today. It’s great to see people talking about improving site search.

I didn’t hear the presentation – I’ve just seen the slide show but Chris seemed to have nicely covered off the benefits of improving site search for corporate, ecommerce and enterprise search. I was very pleased to see him encouraging people to look at their search logs and using them as a guide to improve the search experience. In my experience this can be very productive. There were a couple of things he didn’t explicitly mention in the slide show – although he may have talked about:

  1. Using click through on results to improve the relevance, e.g. if most people are clicking on the 10th result when they search for “swim wear” then maybe that result should be at the top.
  2. The opportunity of using the site search logs for keyword research for search marketing. Enlighten is a search marketing agency so I’m sure he’s aware of this and would have mentioned it in his presentation.

I didn’t see any mention of objective measures of search relevance. Some measures we use include:

  • Average rank – how far down the results people go on average
  • Average click through rate – if the results are good people will probably be clicking on them
  • Percentage of people clicking on the first 5 results.
  • Conversion rate of people who search (for an ecommerce site)

The nice thing about having objective measures like this is that you can then make changes to the search and see if the objective measures improve.

Because of the audience the presentation is naturally a little technical, however I think it’s worth taking a look at.