Feedback from one of our top users is that they want Insided's native search feature to be just as good.
What can we as moderators do to help it? Just spot on tags and titles or is there more we can do?
Best answer by Julian
Thanks for sharing your question with us!
Of course we would have a hard time trying to match Googles' performance in search on our community - there are just so many things Google does with their algorithm that we cannot recreate without extreme efforts. Nevertheless we made sure that we get the best-in-class tool for our community search so that results are more meaningful. We are also currently improving the search once more (by adding advanced search and a category search as a first step).
Moderators / Community Managers and other content creators can surely influence the way your own content performs in search queries on the community.
I think there are general things you can do to have better performing content, however you might also want to focus on specific items to increase the impact.
If you look back at our announcement of our new search engine, you can find how content is being listed:
We now base our search results on the following rules (in order of importance):
- Exact match on title
- Exact match on first post
- Exact match on all posts
- Match with word-distance on title (means that the keywords don’t have to follow each other in the same order)
- Match with word-distance on first post
- Match with word-distance on all posts
There have been some minor tweaks since then, the biggest one worth mentioning is that articles are highlighted in search queries (as they are "official content"). So a good general rule should be to create articles, at least for FAQ content and tutorials.
Another tip that I can share with you is to optimize the title: By having a compact title which explains in the words of your users what the issue is / how it can be solved, it will receive more clicks when displayed in the live-search suggestions. Is the topic about an error message, or about a specific feature? Use that in the title, as this is what people will type in and thus bump your result to the top. Next to that, try to avoid the same structure in your topic titles. For example: On my community there is a ton of content which starts with ""How to...". This looks nice in the title, however as soon as you start typing it into the search bar, it will come back with a million topics that start with the same words. This makes it harder to identify the content you are really interested in - better have the keywords at the beginning instead (e.g. "Post Fields - a How to").
Also, try to vary the use of keywords: If there are many ways to name a certain feature, issue etc., then try to use all of them in your opening post. This will increase the chance that users find it at the top no matter which one of the keywords they use.
I would not invest too much time in adding tags - currently tags have no influence on the performance of content in search. It is mostly being used for tag searches (after clicking on a tag in the tag cloud in the side bar) which do not get too many clicks. It is not a waste to optimize them however for "findability" in the live-search it will not help you too much.
It is a good idea to have the above in the back of your head while creating content, however you should also be aware which content is the most important looking at community search. Which content is being searched very often, where should you offer your own content instead of user-created content?
You should make sure that you add Google Site Search to your community (here a brief how-to) so that you know how often people are searching for specific keywords. It gives you also an indication which keywords deliver good results & where users are not continuing to read after they searched for something.
I would then re-do these searches on the community myself and see if the content is good. If not - go and create better content following the tips above. It will result in more happy users. :)
I hope this helps - I have to go now, need to update a few topic titles.