As the Internet grows in size and complexity, users need website search tools more than ever. The Web is projected to grow to more than 10 billion pages in the near future, so every site faces the challenge of providing customers with relevant content that's easy to find.

Once users get to a destination, they expect instant gratification. Instead, they sometimes find the search box missing, or it yields dozens of irrelevant items from which to choose, or no matches are to be found.

Visitors will leave if they can't find what they need. Several recent studies (Jupiter MediaMetrix, IDC, and Forrester) have documented this, and I'm sure most of us have experienced the frustration of digging for info that should be easily accessible.

Eureka!

What did this situation lead to? The search engine industry, forced to monetize at every turn, is responding to this lack by aggressively providing corporate search solutions. It's a logical extension of their basic offerings, although the new products and services vary widely -- from hardware to software to search services. It's smart, the demand is there, and it's getting more competitive.

Before the majors got involved, numerous specialty vendors dominated the corporate search market (aka "unstructured data search solutions"). Companies like Autonomy, EasyAsk, Mohomine, Mondo Search, Verity and Vivisimo provide a variety of excellent search products.

Of the majors, FAST has been providing corporate search solutions since 1999, deriving 60 percent of its revenue from this area. AltaVista and Inktomi have provided search solutions over the last two years. AskJeeves launched its enterprise search solution last year. The most recent kids on the block are Google and Lycos. Here's how they all stack up.

Alta Vista

AltaVista Search Engine 3.0 uses AltaVista's scalable architecture to provide customizable site search solutions for global businesses. AltaVista Enterprise Search is optimized to search unstructured data in environments with high-security needs and multiple data sources.Customizable to meet intranet search demands, it is available in 30 languages and accommodates over 200 file formats, including databases and e-commerce catalogs. AltaVista clients include Amazon, Borders, the FBI and NASA. It has licensed information-access and data-retrieval software to more than 1,200 companies

AskJeeves

JeevesOne is an enterprise solution providing organizations with site search and customer feedback information. The technology combines natural language processing and complex data structure analytics to answer user queries on corporate Web sites. TheAskJeeves-type question box allows organizations to learn information about customers by the nature of questions asked and the information can be used to provide better customer service. JeevesOne provides an online Demo. Clients include Dell, Nextel, and Ford.

FAST (Fast Search & Transfer)

FAST provides Web search technology for leading portals and ISPs with the search index displayed at AllTheWeb. FAST Data Search is an enterprise-wide software solution with a real-time filter allowing instant queries and responses for real-time alerting. It is a dedicated search solution for corporate Web sites providing frequent indexing. Fast PartnerSite (offered through Lycos ) is an integrated search engine submission and hosted site-search service for Web sites requiring maximum visibility and superior site search functionality. It guarantees indexing within 48 hours and makes dynamic content available.

Google

The Google Search Appliance offers an integrated hardware/software solution bringing Google technology to corporate intranets and Web servers. Google's search appliance comes in two versions: GB-1001 for departments and medium-size organizations with databases up to 150,000 documents, and the GB-8008 for large organizations with gazillions of documents. It's easy to install, and can be up and running in about an hour. Pricing starts at $20,000 including 2 years of support and software updates.

Inktomi

Inktomi Enterprise Search combines natural language features with scalability, speed and ease-of-use, providing relevant results for corporate, public and government organizations. Results across Web-based content includes file servers, databases, and content management systems on customer intranets or public sites. Options include content classification for creating directories and search results display by category. Products are customizable, including multiple language search. Licensing costs vary by database size. A free trial version can be downloaded for 30-day evaluation. Customers include Boeing, CNN, Yale University, etc.

Lycos

Lycos InSite Pro is my favorite because it's so easy to obtain. It's also the first to provide site-search and paid-inclusion all in one, a unique value. Pricing starts at $189 per month with site reports and account details available online. Lycos gives you a remotely hosted site search index with hosting in the Lycos Data Center. This provides a secure environment for your index, and no software or hardware is needed. Your search function can be customized with a search box paste-in that blends in with any site design.

Be Kind

Now that everybody's gotten into the act, there's no excuse for not providing customers with good search capabilities. E-commerce and B2B sites will benefit tremendously, as would most any site. Small businesses can use the ever popular Atomz, which provides free site search, as does FreeFind.
April 23, 2002





Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for strategizing and implementing search engine marketing activities within Red Door's Internet Presence Management (IPM) services.



Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > Paul Bruemmer > Be Kind to Customers: Give Them a Search Box