Magazine article Online

Building a Better Search Engine

Magazine article Online

Building a Better Search Engine

Article excerpt

One way that we distinguish ourselves from Google--at least in the eyes of our clients or users--is by finding content that they can't. But we can also beat the search engines at their own game by creating a customized filter that can be overlaid on search results. There's nothing as compelling as showing clients that not only are we not threatened by search engines, but we are also able to improve upon them.

There are a number of tools for building customized, filtered versions of the leading search engines. They offer features that allow you to do the following:

* Limit the search to what you judge to be the most authoritative sites on the Web.

* Filter the search so that it retrieves only sites that have specific words or phrases in them.

* Accept recommendations for additional "best of breed" sites to add to your filter.

* Make your customized search engine available on your intranet Web site.

These filtering services are free and amazingly simple to set up. The most time-consuming part of the process is building the list of sites that you think are most important to your clients. In fact, you can build multiple customized search engines, specific to each client's or department's needs and interests. After you have customized the filter, you can copy the HTML code for your filtered search engine and insert it into any Web page. These customized search tools can be used to help users find information and to build ready reference search engines for your fellow info pros.

You can see a rough example of two different customized search engines by going to my Web site (www.batesinfo .com/test.html). The first link is to Yahoo! Search Builder. You can search with any words you want: Behind the scenes, the word energyis appended to your search. The second search box uses Google Co-op. The difference between my customized search and regular Google search results is that Web pages from my collection of favorite sites are given more weight in the relevance ranking.

There are a number of choices for creating your customized search engine. The services I have found most useful include the following:

* Yahoo! Search Builder (http://builder.search.yahoo.com)

* Google Co-op (www.google.com/coop/cse)

* Gigablast Custom Topic Search (www.gigablast.com/cts.html)

* Rollyo (www.rollyo.com)

* Swiki (http://swicki.eurekster.com)

Each service works slightly differently. Your decision on which to use will be based on how you want to limit the search results and how much flexibility you need. …

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