For example, if you’re looking for financial data on “bonds” using a vertical search engine, and you
search for the word “bond” you would receive information (in the vertical) about financial bonds.
But if you typed that same search into Google you might get James Bond very near the top of the
results. The web search engine had no idea that you were looking for financial bonds, whereas the
vertical search engine understood your context.
Jerri: Is there any value in SEO for site search?
Site search does some bad things and good things related to SEO. I’ll give you the bad first.
Site search provides users with a truly dynamic experience versus static web pages that are prepro-
grammed. Landing pages and category pages, for example, traditionally have static content that is
chosen by a marketer or merchandiser. Web crawlers are much better at crawling these types of
pages with static content and keyword-friendly URLs. A search engine results page, on the other
hand, is truly dynamic. It didn’t “exist” before you typed in the search query and hit return. The
page — and its content — is rendered on the fly. Web search crawlers sometimes have a hard time
indexing dynamic pages because they are not part of the site map; they are created at the moment
Now the good. FAST does several things to help improve SEO. First, we can rewrite the URLs of
search results pages to make them easier to crawl, inserting search keywords into the URLs. Second,
we can work with our customers to create “topics pages” — landing pages focused on a specific topic
that use search to draw in the most recent, relevant content on that topic. Let’s go back to the TV
Guide example. TV Guide could create a topics page for the show “24.” One area of the page could
be a “latest news” box that is using site search to pull in the most relevant news headlines on the
show “24” from TV Guide’s internal sources and sources across the Web. It could have a premium
content area where TV Guide’s marketing staff can promote their own content. It could have an area
on the most recent blog postings. Topics pages help boost SEO because they are part of the standard
site map, yet have dynamic, rich content that should help generate significant link activity.
Jerri: What’s a tag cloud?
Tag clouds are usually boxes on a web page that help users explore other content related to a
topic. We have a feature in our product, FAST ESP
, called Contextual Insight
. It can look at a piece
of content (a news article, for example) and extract certain key attributes related to this content (e.g.,
persons, places, and things) and then associate those attributes with the content. For example, when
FAST ESP indexes a news article on the show “24,” it may extract “Jack Bauer” and “terrorists” as
attributes from the article. These attributes can be pulled out and made into a tag cloud that is gener-
ated dynamically when someone searches on “24” and clicks on the article. Typically the words in the
cloud all have different sizes and boldness, so some words would have more emphasis than others,
based on their relevancy or weight to the original topic.
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