Getting the Most from Your Google Search Appliance

Search Experience

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Using Features to Enhance the Search Experience


A user’s search experience is based on accessing the Google Search Appliance to enter a search and receive results. The Google Search Appliance provides many built-in features that ensure a satisfactory search experience for users. For a list of these features, refer to Built-In Search Experience Features.

However, the Google Search Appliance comes with many features that you can use to enhance the user’s search experience, especially the way in which the search appliance returns results. Ways that you can enhance the search experience include:

The framework that you use for enhancing the search experience is the front end (see Using Front Ends).

After you deploy one or more search experiences, you can use the advanced search reporting feature (see Setting Up Advanced Search Reporting) to gather feedback about how users are searching, You can use this feedback to refine and enhance the search experience.

This section briefly describes each feature that you can use to enhance the search experience and contains links that you can follow to get more information about each feature.

Built-In Search Experience Features

Without any administrator intervention, the Google Search Appliance provides a rich search experience by using its built-in search features. The following table lists these built-in search features.

Feature

Description

Automatic spell check

The search appliance automatically suggests spelling corrections accurately, even on company-specific words and phrases. The spell checker can suggest corrections in multiple languages, including U.S. English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch.

Sorting search results based on relevance

The search appliance finds the highest quality and most relevant documents for a search query; Google factors in more than 100 variables for each query.

Automatic filtering of duplicate snippets

If multiple documents contain identical titles, as well as the same information in their snippets, only the most relevant document of that set is displayed in the results.

Automatic filtering of duplicate directories

If there are many results in a single web directory, then only the two most relevant results for the directory are displayed. An output flag indicates that more results are available from that directory.

Automatic filtering of languages

Limits search to a specified language, as determined by the majority language used in the web document body.

Dynamic page summaries

Users can judge relevance of results more easily with dynamically generated snippets showing a query in the context of the page.

Results grouping

Users can navigate search results easily and clearly using intelligent grouping of documents residing in the same narrow subdirectories.

Cached pages

Users can view search results even when the sites are down by using cached copies of pages included in the search results.

Highlighted query terms

User can quickly find the most relevant section of a document by using the highlighted query terms displayed on cached documents.

View as HTML

Users can display documents without needing the original client application of the file format because the search appliance automatically converts over 220 file formats into HTML.

Sort by date

User can access time-sensitive information first by using date sorting.

Advanced Search page

Users can perform complex and sophisticated queries with over 10 special query terms, including Boolean AND, OR, and NOT searches.

Deploying the Default Search and Results Pages

The simplest way to give access to the search features of the Google Search Appliance is to use the default search and results pages. These pages provide a user interface that is simple and intuitive and most users are familiar with them from their experience with Google.com. For more information about these default pages, refer to Customizing the User Interface.

The URL for the default search page is http:// SEARCH_APPLIANCE_NAME. For example, if your search appliance is named compgsa, the built-in search page is available at http://compgsa. You can also link this URL from your website to provide user access to it.

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Using Front Ends


A front end is a framework that manages most of the elements of a single search experience, including:

  • The appearance of search and results pages
  • The data that is returned in search results
  • The arrangement of the search results

In each front end, you can use different search appliance features to create a unique search experience for a specific user group. For example, suppose that you want to create different front ends for users in Sales and users in Engineering, based on their different requirements.

Users in Sales need to be able to search the entire index, but would like certain types of documents (presentations, forecasts, and product documentation) to appear at the top of the search results. Users in Engineering need to search only a subset of the index and would like technical documents to appear at the top of the search results.

To ensure that each user group sees preferred documents at the top of the search results, you might use various search appliance features, including KeyMatches (see Forcing Specific Documents to the Top of Search Results) and result biasing (see Influencing Results Rankings). To segment the index so that users in Engineering only search the part of the index that interests them, use a search appliance feature called “collections” (see Segmenting the Index).

Most of the search appliance features described in this section are associated with a front end, including features that give users feedback on their searches and features that refine search results. You create and manage search experiences by using anywhere from a few to all front end features.

There is no limit to the number of front ends that a single search appliance can have. You can create multiple front ends to deploy multiple search experiences for users.

Setting Up a Front End

Set up a front end by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating a front end on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page, shown in the following figure.
  2. Selecting the front end that you want to edit.
  3. Making changes to the front end by using the following configuration tabs on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page:
    • Output Format --add a logo, change fonts, colors, enable alerts, and so on
    • KeyMatch --force results to display during selected word and phrase matches
    • Related Queries --identify user query terms and alternative terms that are displayed as suggestions to the user
    • Filters --restrict search results by domain, language, file type, meta tag values, query expansion policy, or result biasing policy
    • Remove URLs --list URLs to ignore for this front end
    • OneBox Modules --define special-purpose queries that provide access to additional data sources

Learn More about Front Ends

For in-depth information about setting up and using front ends, refer to "Managing the Search Experience" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Forcing Specific Documents to the Top of Search Results


The Google Search Appliance enables you to force certain documents to the top of search results with its KeyMatch feature. When users search with a term that you specify, the search appliance always presents the KeyMatch first. Users can navigate immediately to the featured document and spend less time searching and viewing less relevant documents.

For example, suppose you administer a search appliance for Altostrat, a fictional company. This business is a reseller of the Google Search Appliance. Internally, when the technical team searches on the term “gsa,” they are most interested in navigating to http://pm.altostrat.com/products/gsa or https://pm.altostrat.com/products/products. To help users find these URLs, you can provide the links as KeyMatches, as shown in the following figure.

You also might consider using KeyMatches to promote documents that are too new to be in the search index or might not appear among the highest search results.

Because a KeyMatch is specific to a front end, you can aim a KeyMatch at a specific group of users.

Setting Up KeyMatches

You set up a KeyMatch by matching a search term to a specific URL and specifying a title for the match. In the preceding example, there are two KeyMatches for the search term “gsa.” In the first KeyMatch:

  • The URL is http://pm.altostrat.com/products/products/gsa
  • The title is “Google Search Appliance”

In the second KeyMatch:

  • The URL is https://pm.altostrat.com/products/products
  • The title is “Google Search Appliance--Product Information”

There can be up to five KeyMatches for a single search term, and you can associate up to five URLs for each KeyMatch. However, a maximum of three KeyMatches are returned for a search.

Set up a KeyMatch by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating or choosing a front end for the KeyMatch on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.
  2. Creating the KeyMatch on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > KeyMatch page, shown in the following figure.
  3. Saving the KeyMatch.

Learn More about KeyMatches

For in-depth information about setting up and using KeyMatches, refer to "Using KeyMatches to Guide Users to URLs" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Suggesting Alternative Search Terms along with Results


The Google Search Appliance can suggest alternative search terms to users for their original keyword searches with its related queries feature. When users search with that term, the search appliance always presents the related query at the top of the search results. When a user clicks the related query, the search appliance runs the search again and returns additional results.

For example, suppose some of Altostrat’s content contains official names, such as “Google Search Appliance,” as well as informal terms, such as “gsa,” for the same products. Users might use either official product names or informal terms when they perform searches. To help users find all relevant documents and not miss any, you can provide a related query, as shown in the following figure.

You also might consider using related queries to suggest your own product names and company-specific acronyms or terminology.

Because a related query is specific to a front end, you can aim a related query at a specific group of users.

Setting Up Related Queries

Set up a related query by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating or choosing a front end for the related query on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.
  2. Setting up the related query on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Related Queries page, shown in the following figure.
  3. Saving the related query.

Learn More about Related Queries

For in-depth information about setting up and using related queries, refer to "Using Related Queries to Suggest Alternative Searches" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Grouping Search Results by Topic


The Google Search Appliance can group search results by topic with its dynamic result clusters feature. By clicking a result within a group, a user can:

  • Refine the original search query
  • Get more accurate results than from the original search term alone

For example, suppose a user who is looking for information about the expense budget for NYSSA and searches for this information using the term “expense nyssa.” A dynamic result cluster appears with the results, as shown in the following figure.

Setting Up Dynamic Result Clusters

By default, dynamic result clusters are disabled. For any front end, you can:

  • Enable or disable dynamic result clusters
  • Specify the placement of dynamic result clusters at the top or to the right of search results

If you have implemented KeyMatches (see Forcing Specific Documents to the Top of Search Results) or OneBox modules (see Providing Real-Time Connectivity to Business Applications), you might want to place the dynamic result clusters to the right of search results. This placement minimizes user scrolling down the page for natural search results.

Set up dynamic result clusters by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating or choosing a front end for the dynamic result clusters on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.
  2. Enabling dynamic result clusters and specifying their placement by using either the Page Layout Helper or the XSLT Stylesheet Editor on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page, shown in the following figure.
  3. Saving the page layout.

Learn More about Dynamic Result Clusters

For in-depth information about setting up and using dynamic result clusters, refer to "Using Dynamic Result Clusters to Narrow Searches" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Providing Options for Navigating Search Results


In many cases, content already has considerable metadata associated with it. As a search appliance administrator, you can use metadata to help users explore search results by using dynamic navigation. With dynamic navigation, when a user clicks on a metadata attribute value, the search results are filtered to contain results from the original search query that also have that specific attribute value. For example, when a user searches for the topic “Italian cooking,” dynamic navigation options appear under Navigate, along with the search results, as shown in the following figure.

Setting Up Dynamic Navigation

Set up dynamic navigation by performing the following tasks with the Admin Console:

  1. Enabling dynamic navigation and adding attributes by using the Search > Search Features > Dynamic Navigation page, shown in the following figure.
  2. Saving the dynamic navigation configuration.
  3. Showing dynamic navigation attributes in a front end by using the Page Layout Helper on the Output Format tab of the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.

Learn More about Dynamic Navigation

For information about using dynamic navigation, refer to "Using Dynamic Navigation to Help Users Explore Results" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Displaying Expert Profiles with Search Results


Relevant results for a search query might include information about experts in your organization. For example, when a user searches on a keyword, such as “security,” a list of security experts appears in a sidebar next to search results.

Expert search profile information can include photos, names, job titles, email addresses, locations, and phone numbers

You can enable the Google Search Appliance to serve personal profiles by using the Search > Search Features > Expert Search page in the Admin Console.

Setting Up Expert Search

Enable and set up expert search by performing the following tasks:

  1. Click Search > Search Features > Expert Search.
  2. On the Configure User Interface tab (shown in the following figure), click Configure on the line corresponding to the front end where you want to set up expert search.
  3. Under Selected Front End, click Save.
  4. Perform the following tasks:
    1. Configuring a collection containing expert data
    2. Selecting meta tags for the configuration
    3. Configuring expert layout

Learn More about Expert Search

For complete information about enabling and configuring expert search, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Expert Search in the Admin Console.

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Providing Real-Time Connectivity to Business Applications


In some instances, the most relevant result for a search query is real-time, structured data, such as delivery tracking numbers. This type of data does not usually reside in the search index because it would be obsolete before it could be indexed. Using Google OneBox for Enterprise, you can provide users with access to real time business data from various systems.

A OneBox module sends the user’s query to a different collection on the same appliance or from an external source, such as an application or database, and retrieves relevant data immediately. A OneBox module is returned when a user’s search term matches a “trigger” term.

OneBox results appear above other results on a user’s results page, formatted according to an XSLT stylesheet template. The following figure shows the OneBox that displays on Google.com when a user searches for american 102.

Google enables you to define a OneBox module that appears for certain search terms or the OneBox can appear for every search query. A OneBox module can either search a collection or access a URL for a site that returns XML results.

Creating a OneBox Provider

Before you can use a OneBox module with an external data source, a developer must create a OneBox provider, a program that receives queries from the appliance, obtains data from the application, and returns results to the appliance. The OneBox module can call an internal or external provider:

  • Internal provider--The OneBox module performs a full-text search across the contents of a collection and returns the results in a OneBox user interface.
  • External provider--The OneBox module calls a URL to get data from an external application that returns information as XML.

Setting Up a One Box Module

Before you can set up a OneBox module, you must choose a front end where you want to implement it. For information about front ends, refer to Using Front Ends.

Set up a OneBox module by:

  1. Defining what you want the OneBox module to do, what the search appliance needs to do when it invokes the OneBox module, and how you want the OneBox module results to appear.
  2. Developing a provider.
  3. Creating the OneBox module on the Content Sources > OneBox Modules page in the Admin Console, shown in the following figure. You can either use the Admin Console to specify all the parameters of the OneBox module or indicate the name of the XML configuration file that contains provider information.
  4. Enable the OneBox module from on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends by adding the module to one or more front ends.

Learn More about OneBox Modules

Having a clear definition of what you are trying to achieve with a OneBox module is essential to a successful implementation. The Google OneBox for Enterprise Design Principles provides information you can use to design a OneBox module.

For information about creating internal or external providers, refer to the Google OneBox for Enterprise Developer’s Guide.

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Restricting Search Results


The Google Search Appliance enables you to restrict search results by:

  • Specific languages
  • File types
  • Web sites
  • Meta tags

Filters help ensure that the search appliance serves appropriate results to users.

For example, you might want to restrict search results by domain to ensure that searches in various regions return only results with local information. Suppose you want to restrict results on the pages in the United Kingdom to show only products and special offers available there, so you create a front end for users in the U.K. Suppose the domain name for the U.K. is www.mycompany.com.uk. You might use this domain name to create a domain filter so that when users in the U.K. perform a search, only results that match the domain name appear. All domains ending with the name are filtered.

Because a filter is specific to a front end, you can aim a filter at a specific group of users.

Setting Up Filters

Set up a filter by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating or choosing a front end for the filter on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.
  2. Setting up the filter on the Filters tab on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page, shown in the following figure.
  3. Saving the filter.

Learn More about Filters

For in-depth information about setting up and using filters, refer to "Managing the Search Experience" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Controlling Automatic Searching of Synonyms


The Google Search Appliance can automatically widen a search by adding terms that are synonymous with the search terms through query expansion. Query expansion helps users get search results that they would otherwise miss.

When a user searches on a term, the search appliance expands the search to include synonymous terms. For example, a user searches on the term “documentation,” and the search appliance returns the most relevant results that contain the keyword “documentation.” However, the user misses results that contain alternative terms, such as “guide” and “manual.” If the search term “documentation” is expanded to include “guide,” “guides,” “manual,” and “manuals,” the search is wider and returns an increased number of relevant results.

Google dictionaries of synonyms for English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese are built into the search appliance. Whenever a user enters a search query that matches a synonym in one of these languages, the term is expanded.

However, you can create and upload custom synonym lists to improve search quality. You can also create and upload a blacklist file, which contains terms that should not be expanded, or a stopword file, which contains terms that the search appliance should ignore. Take note that if a stopword is the only keyword in a query, it is not ignored.

After you have configured and enabled the appropriate query expansion files, you can set a query expansion policy for a front end. A query expansion policy determines the synonym, blacklist, or stopword files that are used with a front end.

Setting Up Query Expansion

Set up query expansion by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Configuring and enabling query expansion files on the Search > Search Features > Query Settings page.
  2. Setting the query expansion policy for a front end on the Filters tab of the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.

Learn More about Query Expansion

For in-depth information about setting up Query Expansion and uploading custom synonym lists, refer to "Using Query Expansion to Widen Searches" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Influencing Results Rankings


The Google Search Appliance enables you to influence the order in which the Google Search Appliance ranks search results with its result biasing feature. Result biasing helps ensure that users see results that are relevant to their interests or roles.

For example, given the search term “AltoStrat,” you might want code or design documents to appear high in search results for the engineering group, while you might want product specifications to appear higher for the marketing group. The following figure illustrates two different search results rankings for the same search term, “AltoStrat.”

Because result biasing is specific to a front end, you can aim result biasing at a specific group of users.

The Google Search Appliance provides three ways for you to influence results ranking:

  • Source biasing --based on how documents in a collection match certain URL patterns that you provide, or the way documents are fed from a data source.
  • Date biasing --based on document date.
  • Metadata and entity biasing --based on metadata or entities associated with documents.

Because increasing the relevancy of specific documents may also decrease the relevancy of others, use result biasing to boost scores of content sources that you are certain are more authoritative than other sources.

Setting Up Result Biasing

Set up result biasing by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating a result biasing policy on the Search > Search Features > Result Biasing page. A result biasing policy determines the source biasing, date biasing, and metadata and entity biasing settings that are used with a front end.
  2. Configuring source biasing, date biasing, or metadata and entity biasing for the policy on the Search > Search Features > Result Biasing > edit page, shown in the following figure. A menu-driven interface allows weak or strong increases or decreases, and requires no complex coding or scripting. You can use 11 settings to adjust result biasing from least influence to most influence.
  3. Enabling the result biasing policy by selecting it for use with a front end on the Serving > Filters page in the Admin Console.

Learn More about Result Biasing

For in-depth information about setting up and using result biasing, refer to "Using Result Biasing to Influence Result Ranking" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Segmenting the Index


The Google Search Appliance enables you to divide your search index into sections and provide search across different content to different groups of users with its collections feature. A collection is a subset of the complete search index.

Search results from a collection have the same relevance ranking as full index searches. Only the content searched differs because it is restricted to the individual collection’s content. By searching a collection, users get relevant search results more quickly than by searching the entire index.

Using collections, you can show different results to different users. For example, you might create collections such as:

  • “Corporate Policies,” for any staff to search for policy documents
  • “Engineering,” for technical users and other user who need to search for engineering documents
  • “Europe Offices,” for users who are geographically located in the European offices
  • “Marketing,” for marketing staff to search for marketing documents
  • “Sales,” for sales staff to search for sales documents

To search a collection, a user can select the collection name from a pull-down menu on the search box, as illustrated in the following figure.

Collections are independent of front ends. However, you can use a custom front end with a specific collection to help improve searches and enhance results.

Setting Up a Collection and Adding a Pull-Down Menu

To set up a collection, specify URL patterns that it should include. If you set up more than one collection, the same entry can appear in multiple collections. You can set up 200 collections for a search index.

Set up a collection by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Providing a name on the Index > Collections page, shown in the following figure.
  2. Entering the URL patterns you want to include in the collection, as well as URLs that you don’t want to include.
  3. Saving the collection.

Before you add a pull-down menu for searching by collection, you must choose a front end where you want to implement it. Add a collection menu by performing the following steps:

  1. Creating or choosing a front end for the menu on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.
  2. Adding a collection menu by using either the Page Layout Helper (see See Using the Page Layout Helper) or the XSLT Stylesheet Editor (see Using the XSLT Stylesheet Editor) on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page.
  3. Saving the page layout.

Learn More about Collections

For in-depth information about setting up and using collections, refer to the following topics in Google Search Appliance documentation:

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Providing User Results


The search appliance enables users to enhance their search experience with the capability of assigning keywords to search results for a specific front end, as shown in the following figure.

Setting Up User Results

To add a user results configuration, use the Search > Search Features > User Results page.

For each configuration, you can specify:

  • A name for the configuration.
  • A description of the configuration.
  • Whether user results are moderated, requiring administrator approval before appearing in search results.
  • The front ends to associated with the configuration

Because a user result configuration can be associated with one or more front ends, you can create multiple configurations with different settings and associate them with separate front ends.

Learn More about User Results

For more information about setting up user results, refer to "Providing User Results" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Enabling User Alerts


The Google Search Appliance enables users to monitor topics of interest with its alerts feature. Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant search results based on a user’s topic of interest.

A user sets up an alert by clicking My Alerts on the search page, logging in to the search appliance by using her LDAP user name and password, and choosing an hourly, weekly, or monthly schedule. After the user creates an alert, the search appliance sends the user an email whenever it finds new or changed documents about the topic of interest.

Setting Up Alerts

Alerts require that the user authenticate using their LDAP credentials. This means that an LDAP server, populated with the users email must be present and accessible by the search appliance for Alerts to function.

Set up alerts by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Configuring an authentication method by using the Search > Secure Search > Universal Login Auth Mechanisms page.
  2. Enabling alerts for the search appliance by using the Index > Alerts page, shown in the following figure.
  3. Showing the My Alerts link for a specific front end by using either the Page Layout Helper or the XSLT Stylesheet Editor on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page.

Learn More about Alerts

For an in-depth information about setting up and using alerts, refer to "Providing Alerts for End Users" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Displaying Translations of Search Results


The Google Search Appliance can translate titles and snippets in search results, as well as cached documents into the user’s language in real time. The user’s language is determined by the default language set in the user’s browser. When translation is enabled, translation links appear in search results. The user can translate everything on the page or just individual titles, snippets, or cached documents. Take note that translate does not work for the Document Preview feature.

Enabling Translation of Search Results

To enable translation, use the Page Layout Helper on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page in the Admin Console.

Learn More about Translation of Search Results

For more information about translation of search results, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format - Page Layout Helper in the Admin Console.

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Showing Document Previews in Search Results


Document previews enable users to view a thumbnail image of a document in the search results. To view a document preview, the user hovers the pointer over a magnifying glass icon next to the search result. The preview appears, as shown in the following figure.

Providing Document Previews in Search Results

To provide document previews to your users, perform the following tasks:

  1. Enable the document preview module by using the Search > Search Features > Document Preview Module page.
  2. Show document previews in a front end by using the Page Layout Helper on the Output Format tab of the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page. Document previews are not supported in custom front ends at this time.

Document previews are only generated during crawl time after you have enabled the document preview module. To show previews for content that was crawled or fed before you enabled this feature:

  • Recrawl URLs
  • Refeed content feed data sources
  • Resync content from databases

If you upgrade to 7.0 from an older version, your content must be recrawled, resynchronized or refed after enabling this feature to get document previews.

Learn More about Document Previews

For complete information about providing document previews, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Document Preview Module in the Admin Console.

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Enabling Wildcard Search


Wildcard search is a feature that enables your users to search by entering a word pattern rather than the exact spelling of a term. The search appliance supports two wildcard operators:

  • * --Matches zero or more characters
  • ? --Matches exactly 1 character

Using wildcards can simplify queries for long names, technical data, pharmaceutical information, or strings where the exact spelling varies or is unknown. A user can search for all words starting with a particular pattern, ending with a particular pattern, or having a particular substring pattern.

By default, wildcard indexing is disabled for your search appliance. You can enable or disable wildcard indexing by using the Index > Index Settings page. You can disable or enable wildcard search for one or more front ends by using the Filters tab of the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.

Learn More about Wildcard Search

For information about wildcard indexing, click Admin Console Help > Index > Index Settings. For more information about wildcard search, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters.

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Customizing the User Interface


The Google Search Appliance offers a default user interface that is simple and intuitive, like Google.com. The following figure illustrates the default search and results pages.

A Google Search Appliance user interface is associated with a single front end (see Using Front Ends). The search appliance has a default front end, which uses the default user interface. You can use the default user interface without any customization. However, a search appliance can have multiple front ends, each with its own, customized user interface.

For example, you can customize a front end by making changes that reflect your organization’s visual identity, such as by using your logo and your color scheme. Other types of changes that you can make to the user interface include:

  • Changing the font face
  • Adding a header and footer
  • Adding a menu to search by collection
  • Displaying a public and secure search radio button

The AltoStrat examples in this document present a customized user interface, as shown in the following figure.

How Does the Search Appliance Create the User Interface?

After the search appliance receives and executes a search query:

  1. The search appliance returns search results in XML.
  2. The search appliance applies an XSLT stylesheet to the XML results and creates the search results page in HTML.
  3. The Web browser presents the HTML search results page to the user.

An XSLT stylesheet contains information about which elements should appear in the user interface and how the elements should look. Each front end can use the same stylesheet or a different stylesheet. Each search appliance front end has a default XSLT stylesheet, which can be used with any front end.

Tools for Customizing the User Interface

You can customize a user interface by editing an XSLT stylesheet with one of the following tools:

  • Page Layout Helper (see Using the Page Layout Helper)--Use the Page Layout Helper to make changes easily to global attributes (logo, fonts, header, and footer), and to the look of the Search Box and Search Results.
  • XSLT Stylesheet Editor (see Using the XSLT Stylesheet Editor)--Use the XSLT Stylesheet Editor to make more extensive changes to the XSLT stylesheet.

Both of these tools are accessible from the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page in the Admin Console.

Changes that you make using the Page Layout Helper are fully supported by Google Cloud Support. If you want to contact support about changes made using the Page Layout Helper, file a help ticket. Use can also refer issues to the Google Search Appliance group on Google Groups. Changes that you make using the XSLT Stylesheet Editor are not supported by Google Cloud Support. If you have issues about changes made using the XSLT Stylesheet Editor, you can refer them to the appropriate Google Group.

Using the Page Layout Helper

Even if you do not have any special knowledge of XSLT, you can effectively customize a Google Search Appliance user interface using the Page Layout Helper. Use the Page Layout Helper to perform the following tasks:

  • Changing Global Attributes--In the Global Attributes section, you can quickly put your logo on pages, specify the fonts to use, and add the HTML header and the HTML footer code used on your web site.
  • Changing the Appearance of the Search Box--In the Search Box section, you can make changes to the Search text box and button, to the language and encoding, and select which collections are available to your users to search.
  • Changing the Appearance of Search Results--In the Search Results section, you can make changes to the top and bottom of the results page, the content of results, and various page elements such as links and dividers.

The Page Layout Helper has a Preview button that you can click to open a browser window and see how the page will look when you save your changes.

The following figure shows the Global Attributes section of the Page Layout Helper.

Take note that the Page Layout Helper enables you to change only some of the elements in the XSLT stylesheet. If you want to make extensive changes to a search appliance user interface, you need to work directly in the XSLT Stylesheet.

However, you can start by customizing the user interface using the Page Layout Helper. After you finish making and saving changes in the Page Layout Helper, you can make further changes in the XSLT Stylesheet Editor. Any changes that you make with the Page Layout Helper appear in the XSLT stylesheet.

Using the XSLT Stylesheet Editor

If the elements that you want to change are not available in the Page Layout Helper, you must use the XSLT Stylesheet Editor to change them. This editor enables you to make changes directly in the XSLT stylesheet. The XSLT stylesheet contains sections for various components, preceded by comments so that you know whether a section can be customized.

To work in the XSLT Stylesheet editor, you need knowledge of XSLT, XML, and HTML.

The following figure shows the XSLT Stylesheet Editor.

Editing an XSLT Stylesheet

Edit an XSLT stylesheet by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Creating or choosing a front end for the customization on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page.
  2. Making the page layout changes for a specific front end by using either the Page Layout Helper or the XSLT Stylesheet Editor on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page.
  3. Saving the page layout changes.

Learn More about User Interface Customization

For in-depth information about using the Page Layout Help, the XSLT Stylesheet Editor, and making changes to the user interface, refer to "Customizing the User Interface" in Creating the Search Experience.

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Collecting Metrics about User Clicks


The Google Search Appliance’s advanced search reporting feature enables you to gather information about user clicks on search results. By using advanced search reporting, you can determine if:

  • Users a finding what they’re searching for
  • Groups of users are searching for the same information
  • Certain URLs are harder for users to find than others

By analyzing user clicks, you can also identify ways to improve the search experience.

For example, suppose information about user clicks shows that a users in range of IP addresses are all searching for information about a project with the code name of “Antilles.” None of the users are finding a satisfactory URL at the top of the search results. Some of the users are finding a satisfactory URL on page 3 of the results. However, many users are abandoning the search after viewing page 2 of the results.

The range of IP addresses tells you that the users who are searching for the results are all Engineers in the U.S. who are working on project Antilles. You might create a front end for this group of users and force results about project Antilles to the top of the results using KeyMatches (see Forcing Specific Documents to the Top of Search Results).

Once you enable advanced search reporting, the search appliance modifies search result pages by inserting code that tracks all links that a user clicks. From that point on, when a user clicks a link in the search results, those selections are tracked for analysis later on.

You can export an advanced search report. Each entry in an advanced search report represents a single user click or other action, such as page load, in the search appliance user interface.

The reports provide rich search behavior information such as:

  • The position of the result end-users are choosing
  • Which queries are not getting any clicks
  • How often a user is clicking on a KeyMatch as opposed to a OneBox

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Setting Up Advanced Search Reporting

Set up advanced search reporting by performing the following steps with the Admin Console:

  1. Enabling advanced search reporting on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page.
  2. Exporting an advanced search report on the Reports > Search Log page.

Learn More about Advanced Search Reporting

For in-depth information about setting up and using advanced search reporting, refer to the following Google Search Appliance documentation:

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