Search
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu
true

Creating the Search Experience

Introduction

The Google Search Appliance has features that enable system administrators to enhance the search experience for end users. This chapter introduces fundamental concepts of the search experience.

Back to top

About this Document


Creating the Search Experience describes how system administrators can use Google Search Appliance features to create the search experience for end users. Understanding the Search Experience is the first chapter of Creating the Search Experience. This chapter is an overview of features that contribute to an end-user's search experience using the Google Search Appliance. These features include:

  • Filters
  • Front ends
  • KeyMatch
  • OneBox modules
  • Related queries
  • Remove URLs
  • Dynamic result clusters
  • Dynamic navigation
  • Query expansion
  • Result biasing
  • Expert search
  • User results
  • Document previews

Other chapters in Creating the Search Experience provide information about how search appliance administrators can use these features to enhance and personalize the search experience.

For information about specific feature limitations, see Specifications and Usage Limits.

Back to top

What Is the Search Experience?


Whenever an end user tries to find information using a search box on a Web page, the end user has a search experience. The end user may be researching a topic, trying to locate a specific document, or just trying to find an answer to a question. An end user's search experience has three basic steps:

  1. Formulating and entering a search query on a Web page
  2. Getting search results back from the search engine
  3. Interacting with the search results

Following these three steps to search for information on Google.com has become an everyday experience for many people. With the Google Search Appliance, an end user can have a search experience that is similar to that of using Google.com. The search appliance can be used by various, distinct groups of end users, including consumers and internal staff. End users can search enterprise content, which ranges from consumer-oriented public documents to secure proprietary documents.

With minimal customization, you, as a search appliance administrator, can create one or more search experiences that address the special considerations of enterprise search. With each search experience, you can focus on the needs and levels of different end users. You can:

  • Present customized search pages for specific types of end users
  • Improve searches in ways that pertain to specific types of end users
  • Serve results that contain the right information for specific types of end users

This document describes how you can use search appliance features to create appropriate search experiences for your end users. The following table gives an overview of the major sections in this document.

Section

Describes

Focusing on End Users

How you can create different search experiences for several types of end users

Managing the Search Experience

How a search appliance feature called a “front end” manages various elements of the search experience

Improving Searches

Which Search appliance features enable you to improve the end-user's search

Enhancing Search Results

Which search appliance features enable you to enhance results listings

Changing the User Interface

Which search appliance features enable you to customize the search and results pages

Where Is the Search Experience Created?

Where to find features in the search appliance that you can use to customize the search experience

Search Experience Background

What happens to a single search query behind the search experience

Back to top

What Is Personalization?


Several Google Search Appliance features enable you, as a Google Search Appliance administrator, to personalize the search experience. With personalization, users get results that are appropriate to their interests, roles, departments, locations, languages, or other characteristics. For more information, refer to Personalizing the Search Experience.

Before you personalize the search experience, you should gather knowledge about your end users, such as their roles, functional groups, locations, what they are searching for, and whether they are finding it or not. Advanced Search Reporting enables you to gather information about user clicks. For more information, refer to Gathering Information About the Search Experience.

In this document, descriptions of features that you can use to personalize the search experience are marked with the following personalization icon.

Back to top

Focusing on End Users


The most effective way for you to create an appropriate search experience is to focus on the end user. End users might be:

  • Customers, about whom little is known other than they want to search within the enterprise for general information about products
  • Members of the organization, with different jobs, different levels of expertise, different levels of security, and different expectations about search results

This section describes how you can create search experiences for different types of end users. Suppose you have two major goals for your search appliance:

  • To begin serving search results immediately
  • To present multiple search experiences to various types of end users

To accomplish both goals, you have decided to deploy search experiences in three phases:

  • Phase one--Start with a basic search experience that uses the search appliance defaults
  • Phase two--Present a single, customized search experience that replaces the Google visual identity with that of your company
  • Phase three--Present multiple search experiences aimed at different types of end users

The following sections describe how you might implement each of these three phases.

Starting with a Basic Search Experience

Suppose you want to begin serving information to your end users as soon as possible, so you have decided to begin by using the search appliance without any customization. The search appliance comes with several built-in features that make it ready for end-user searches after it has been installed and has a search index. Once end users are directed to the search page, they can immediately start entering search queries and getting relevant results.

In this phase, you can use the default search and results pages, which are both hosted by the search appliance. By default, the search page presents the Google identity and enables end users to search public content, secure content, or both. It also includes links for Advanced Search and Search Tips. The following figure illustrates the default search page.

Using this search page, an end user can begin a search by entering search terms in the search box and clicking Google Search. The search appliance serves search results on the default results page, shown in the following figure.

Result Listings

For each result in the list, the default result page includes:

  • A title
  • A snippet
  • A link URL
  • File size
  • Date
  • A link to a cached page

For security reasons, the cached result page does not contain some HTML data that is in the crawled page. For example, Javascript code is removed from cached pages.

The default results page also includes a search box at the bottom of the page, as well as a link to Search Within Results.

For more information about search appliance defaults, refer to Built-In Elements.

Customizing the Basic Search Experience

In phase two, suppose you want to customize one search experience for all your end users. You want to replace the Google visual identity with that of your company, and make a few other minimal changes. As in phase one, the search page is hosted by the search appliance.

Simple changes that you can make to the search page include:

  • Changing the font face to a serif typeface
  • Adding your company's logo
  • Changing the search button label
  • Removing the radio buttons for Search public content or public and secure content

These changes are also apparent on the new results page. Other changes that you can make to the results page include:

  • Removing the link URL from the results listings
  • Displaying a cached link in the results listings
  • Removing the search box from the bottom of the page

For information about making the types of changes described in this section, refer to Changing the User Interface.

Creating Multiple Search Experiences

In phase three, suppose you want to address various types of end users, including consumers, as well as your company's employees, including engineers, sales people, and support staff. You plan to deploy multiple search experiences that:
 
  • Address diverse end users
  • Support two languages

With each search experience, end users search the same corpus (a set of data or documents stored in a repository that is searchable by end users). However, each search experience:

  • Presents a different user interface to end users
  • Searches only part of the entire search index (called a “collection”)
  • Behaves differently when searching and serving results

An alternative to including a search box and button on a search page that is hosted by the search appliance is to include them on a home page or other proprietary Web page that is hosted by a Web server. During this phase, you might move the search box and search button to your company's home page.

Addressing Diverse End Users

This example illustrates how you might deploy a search experience for consumers with varying levels of knowledge about your company's products. End users who might search the site range from people who know nothing about your products to knowledgeable professionals. When the search appliance serves results with this search experience, it only presents two elements in each results listing, a title and a snippet. The following example shows the results listing for the search term “headphones”:

Headphones and headsets
Suitable for all users, these headphones are for any type of listening and feature natural sound...

Headphones - stereo
For DJs, these headphones feature powerful bass and frequency...

Headsets-Microphone
Hands-free headband microphone with a portable amplifier...

To navigate to a document, an end user clicks a result title.

Suppose that in addition to general end users, the search appliance also serves engineers who are employees of your company. For these engineers, you create a specific search experience. When an internal engineer searches using the term “headphones,” the search appliance serves the same results as in the general search experience. However, in this instance, the results listings include a link URL, page size, and date information, as shown in the following example. Because more knowledgeable end users often search by URL rather than result title, they need the additional information to navigate to the appropriate page.

Headphones and headsets
Suitable for all users, these headphones are for any type of listening and feature natural sound...
http://www. cosmoaud.com/support/allusers.html -4k-2007-2-12

Headphones - stereo
For DJs, these headphones feature powerful bass and frequency...
http://www. cosmoaud.com/support/djs.html -2k-2006-11-21

Headsets-Microphone
Hands-free headband microphone with a portable amplifier...
http://www. cosmoaud.com/support/handsfree.html-2k-2007-3-14

To navigate to a document, an end user clicks a result title or a link URL.

For information about making the types of changes described in this section, refer to Changing the User Interface.

The following example shows another way of addressing diverse end users with different search experiences. Suppose both consumers and human resources staff search on the term “SA,” but expect completely different results. Because search results can be customized to return search suggestions at the top of the results list, you might create different search suggestions for the search term “SA.” For customers, the search term “SA” causes the search appliance to return the following search suggestion:

You could also try: Service Agreement

For human resources staff, the same search term causes the search appliance to return a different search suggestion:

You could also try: Salary Adjustment

For information about making the types of changes described in this section, refer to Suggesting Alternative Search Terms.

Other elements that you can use to provide feedback to customers include specific URLs that are promoted to the top of the results and sub-categories of search terms that are based on the initial search term. For more information about these and other elements, refer to Improving Searches.

For another example of a front end that serves a diverse audience, visit http://www.apple.com.

Supporting Multiple Languages

This example illustrates how you can deploy search experiences in two different languages. Suppose your company serves consumers in both the United States and Canada. You might create two search experiences: one for English-speaking users and one for French- speaking users. On the search page, you can give end users the choice of viewing pages in English or French. This approach enables the search appliance to serve results in the language of users.
 

The following figure illustrates a results page in French.

The following table gives highlights of some differences between the English and French search experience.

Element

English

French

Search button

"Search Google "

"Recherche Google "

Search Information bar

"Search"

"Rechercher"

Results summary

"Results 1-n of about n for..."

Resultats 1-n sur environ n pour...

Next link

"Next"

"Suivant"

Results

In English

In French

For more examples of how search experiences can support multiple languages, visit Google Canada (http://www.google.ca/, and Google Mexico (http://www.google.com.mx/).

For information about making the types of changes described in this section, refer to Refining Search Results and Changing the User Interface.

Back to top

Managing the Search Experience


The Google Search Appliance feature that enables you to create different search experiences for end users is the “front end.” 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

A default front end is built into the search appliance. You can use the default front end to deploy a single search experience for end users. The examples in Starting with a Basic Search Experience illustrate this approach. Another approach that uses a single front end is to deploy a single, customized search experience for end users. The examples in Customizing the Basic Search Experience illustrate this approach.

You can create multiple front ends to deploy multiple search experiences for end users. The examples in Creating Multiple Search Experiences illustrate this approach.

There are several search appliance features associated with a front end, including features that give end users feedback on their searches and features that refine search results. You create and manage search experiences using anywhere from a few to all front end features. For descriptions of these features, refer to:

For a summary of all front end features, refer to Elements Defined in the Front End.

To create a front end, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends page. For complete information about the Front Ends page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends in the Admin Console.

Using Collections with Front Ends

A collection is a subset of the complete search index. A collection lets end users:

  • Search over a specific part of the index
  • Narrow a search
  • Get relevant results more quickly

A collection is analogous to a playlist in media player software. To create a playlist, you define it, add songs in it, and store it. If you have more than one playlist, one song can appear in multiple playlists. You can create a playlist for a specific group of listeners, such as your family.

To create a collection, you define it, add entries to it from the search index, and store it. If you define more than one collection, the same entry can appear in multiple collections. You can define collections for specific end users.

Suppose you define a collection to support end users in Human Resources (HR). This collection contains information that is related only to HR.

You define a collection by URL patterns. All content that matches the URL pattern belongs to the collection. The same content can appear in multiple collections. 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.

You can search multiple collections by using the site parameter, as described in the Search Protocol Reference. When the search appliance displays results for a query against multiple collections, it does not group the results by collection.

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. Continuing the previous example, in addition to an HR collection, suppose you have also configured an HR front end and associated it with the HR collection. When end users search using the HR front end, the search is restricted to the HR collection.

Another example is to configure a front end for customers and associate it with a customer collection. The customer collection contains only public, non-secure information, such as descriptions of products and services. When customers search using this front end, the search is restricted to information in the customer collection.

There are two ways to associate a collection with a front end:

  • Add an element to the search page, such as a select list or radio button that enables end users to select collections for their searches
  • Use query parameters to bind a collection to a front end, then mask the query parameters using a proxy server

For details about adding an element to a search page to enable searching by collection, refer to Changing the User Interface.

To create a collection, use the Index > Collections page in the Admin Console. For information about using this page to create a collection, see Admin Console Help > Index > Collections.

When defining collections that include content from a content connector, the URL patterns refer to the internal URL representation (the “googleconnector:” patterns), rather than the displayed URLs. For more information about the content connectors, refer to the Documentation for the Google Search Appliance Connectors.

Maximum Number of Front Ends and Collections

Do not create more than the recommended number of front ends or collections for a search appliance:

  • For front ends, the maximum number is 200
  • For collections, the maximum number is 200

Google recommends that you keep the number of front ends and collections as low as possible. If you create more than 200 front ends or 200 collections, importing or exporting a configuration might be slow. If Google Cloud Support determines that this performance issue caused by too many front ends or collections, they might require you to reduce their numbers.

Back to top

Improving Searches


One way to improve an end user's search experience is to provide feedback that helps her find information that she might otherwise miss. One form of feedback that Google provides by default is spelling suggestions. This is a built-in feature of the Google Search Appliance that works the same as it does on Google.com.

When an end user types a search term that seems to be a misspelling, the search appliance responds with a spelling suggestion. For example, if an end user types “aduio,” the search appliance responds with the following spelling suggestion:

Did you mean: audio

This feedback gives the user an opportunity to:

  • Run the search again
  • Get relevant results

The choice of clicking a spelling suggestion is completely up to the end user.

The spell checker supports Dutch, US English, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. (You can change the supported languages by installing and activating a different language bundle, see Changing Languages for Query Expansion and Spelling Suggestions.) For information about how the search appliance makes spelling suggestions for supported languages, see "How Does the Search Appliance Make Spelling Suggestions?" in Search Appliance Internationalization.

You cannot edit the search appliance's spelling dictionary. However, the search appliance offers other features that improve searches. The following table gives an overview of these features.

Feature

Described in

Related queries

Suggesting Alternative Search Terms

KeyMatch

Guiding End Users to Specific URLs

Dynamic results clusters

Narrowing Searches

Dynamic navigation

Query expansion

Widening Searches

Spelling suggestions are not returned when special parameters such as as_sitesearch, inurl:, intitle:, and the like are used in a query.

Suggesting Alternative Search Terms

As shown in Addressing Diverse End Users, the Google Search Appliance can suggest alternative search terms ("related queries") based on an end user's original search terms. For example, an end user searches using the term "Iwo To," which is the current name for "Iwo Jima." Searching for "Iwo To" returns results indexed under "Iwo To," but misses the results indexed under "Iwo Jima." However, the search appliance returns the following related query at the top of the search results:
 

You could also try: Iwo Jima

When the user clicks “Iwo Jima,” the search appliance runs the search again and returns additional results. The choice of whether to click a related query is completely up to the end user.

In addition to suggesting alternative search terms, related queries can also suggest more specific keyword searches, such as your own product names. For example, an end user searches for “turntables” and, using related queries, the search appliance returns specific product names, for example:

You could also try: Acme Portable Turntable

Unlike spelling suggestions, related queries are not available by default. You can create them for a specific front end by associating a search term to a related query. In the previous example:

  • The search term is “turntables”
  • The related query is “Acme Portable Turntable”

To create a related query, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Related Queries page. For complete information about the Related Queries page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Related Queries in the Admin Console.

For more information about related queries, refer to Using Related Queries to Suggest Alternative Searches.

Guiding End Users to Specific URLs

You can also customize search feedback by guiding end users to specific URLs using KeyMatches. KeyMatches are preferential search results, or recommended links, that appear at the top of the search results. Like related queries, KeyMatches are results that are based on the end user's original search terms.

For example, an end user searches with the term “401K.” The search appliance returns the following KeyMatch at the top of the search results:

A KeyMatch gives an end user an opportunity to navigate immediately to the recommended document. This means that the end user spends less time searching for documents and more time looking at them. As with related queries, the choice of clicking a KeyMatch is completely up to the end user.

KeyMatches let you promote specific documents higher in the search results, even when documents are not indexed or have low relevance. Because a KeyMatch is specific to a front end, it can be aimed at specific types of end users.

KeyMatches are not available by default. You can create them for a specific front end by associating a search term to a specific URL and specifying a title for the match. In the previous example:

  • The search term is “401K”
  • The URL is http://www.cosmoaud.com/hr/retirements.html
  • The title is “Just Published: New Retirement Options”

To create a KeyMatch, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > KeyMatch page For complete information about the KeyMatch page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > KeyMatch in the Admin Console.

For more information about KeyMatch, refer to Using KeyMatches to Guide Users to URLs.

Narrowing Searches

For some search terms, the Google Search Appliance can narrow searches by providing dynamically formed subcategories ("dynamic result clusters") based on the results of each search query. Each subcategory groups similar documents together. Instead of reading through results to understand the results, end users can browse a subcategory.

By clicking a subcategory link, an end user can

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

For example, suppose an end user who looking for information about the history of the vikings. He searches for this information using the term “vikings.” A dynamic result cluster appears with the results, as shown in the following example.

narrow your search

vikings history
vikings schedule
vikings football team
vikings weapons
vikings in america
viking update
viking names
viking clothing

The subcategories group the results into meaningful clusters, enabling the user to focus on the history of vikings while ignoring irrelevant information.

By default, dynamic result clusters is not enabled for each front end. To modify settings for dynamic result clusters, use the Search results section of the Page Layout Helper. The Page Layout Helper is on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page. For complete information about the Page Layout Helper, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format in the Admin Console. You can also modify settings for dynamic result clusters using the eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) stylesheet. For access to the XSLT stylesheet, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format in the Admin Console

For more information about dynamic result clusters, refer to Using Dynamic Navigation to Help Users Explore Results.

Dynamic navigation is a feature that provides another method for helping users to refine their searches. With dynamic navigation, options that are based on metadata in your corpus appear along with the search results. Options list document counts for each value.

Suppose your corpus includes metadata for each department, for example, <META NAME="dept" CONTENT="Sales">. When you configure dynamic navigation for this metadata, the following Navigate options might appear with search results:

Department

Engineering (33)
Marketing (35)
Sales (27)

For more information about dynamic navigation, refer to Using Dynamic Navigation to Help Users Explore Results.

Widening Searches

Without any input from the end user other than a search term, the Google Search Appliance can expand a query by adding synonymous terms. This helps end users get results that they would otherwise miss. The feature is called "query expansion."

For example, an end user searches on the term “documentation,” and the search appliance returns the most relevant results that contain the keyword “documentation.” However, the end 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 an end user enters a search query that matches a synonym in one of these languages, the term is expanded. For information about how the search appliance expands queries in supported languages, see "Which Languages can use Query Expansion?" in Search Appliance Internationalization.

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

To widen searches:

  1. Upload custom synonym lists, blacklists, and stopword files.
  2. Set the Query Expansion policy for a specific front end.

An uploaded synonym list, blacklist, or stopword file is applied to a front end when you set the query expansion policy for the front end.

To upload synonyms, blacklist terms, or stopwords, use the Search > Search Features > Query Settings page. For complete information about the Query Settings page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Query Settings in the Admin Console.

Query expansion is OFF by default and should be turned on to FULL in each front end to maximize the potential relevancy of the results. To set the Query Expansion policy for a front end, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page. For complete information about the Filters page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters in the Admin Console.

For more information about query expansion, refer to Using Query Expansion to Widen Searches.

You can also widen searches by enabling wildcard search. This feature enables your users to search by entering a word pattern rather than the exact spelling of a term. To enable wildcard search, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page in the Admin Console.

For more information, see Enabling Wildcard Search.

Back to top

Enhancing Search Results


Without any administrator intervention, the Google Search Appliance enhances search results by performing the following actions:

  • Sorting the results by relevance--The search appliance uses over 100 different algorithms to sort results by relevance intelligently and dynamically.
  • Filtering 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 appears in the results.
  • Filtering duplicate directories--If there are many results in a single web directory, only the two most relevant results for the directory appear. This feature is also known as “directory crowding.”

In addition to these built-in features, the search appliance offers other features that enhance search results. The following table gives an overview of these features.

Feature

Described in

OneBox modules

Integrating Real-Time Data

Expert search

Providing Expert Profiles with Search Results

User results

Giving Users the Ability to Add Results

Document previews

Showing Document Previews

Filters

Refining Search Results

Remove URLs

Removing Specific URLs from Results

Results biasing

Influencing Results Ranking

Alerts

Enabling Alerts

Integrating Real-Time Data

In some instances, the most relevant result for a search query is real-time, structured data. This type of data does not usually reside in the search index because it would be obsolete before it could be indexed. For example, an end-user searches on “expense reports mlock.” Specially formatted real-time data showing current expense reports for the name “mlock” appears at the top of the search results, as illustrated in the following figure.

This type of result is served by a “OneBox module.” Instead of going to multiple sources for information, the search appliance executes instructions to get the result from a OneBox provider. Like KeyMatches, OneBox modules represent preferential results that enable end users to receive relevant content without paging through other search results.

A OneBox module is returned when an end user's search term matches a “trigger” term. In the previous example:

  • The trigger is “expense reports”
  • The search term that matches the trigger is “mlock”

Each trigger can have up to four OneBox module results. Other examples of this type of data include current flight information and tracking information for shipping orders.

The search appliance supports two types of OneBox modules:

  • Internal--Provides real-time access to data from a collection on the search appliance. The OneBox will only trigger if the search is performed on a collection that is different from the collection specified in the onebox configuration.
  • External--Provides real-time access to data from an external source, such as an application or database.
A OneBox module that has been integrated with the search appliance can be used with any of the front ends on the search appliance. A front end can use an unlimited number of OneBox modules. To add a OneBox Module:
 
  1. Integrate the OneBox Module into the search appliance.
  2. Select a OneBox Module for use in a specific front end.

To integrate structured data in search results, use the Content Sources > OneBox Modules page. For complete information about the OneBox Modules page, click Admin Console Help > Content Sources > OneBox Modules in the Admin Console.

To select a OneBox module to use with a front end use Search > Search Features > Front Ends > OneBox Modules page.

For detailed information about developing OneBox modules, refer to the following documents:

Providing Expert Profiles with Search Results

Users might want to search for experts on specific topics in your organization. You can provide this capability by configuring expert search. With expert search, when a user searches on a keyword, such as “hiring” a list of hiring experts appears in a sidebar next to search results. You might also provide an option for the user to click a link to view a more detailed list of experts on a separate page.
 

To configure expert search, use the Search > Search Features > Expert Search page.

For more information about expert search, see Providing Expert Search for Users.

Giving Users the Ability to Add Results

You can give users the ability to add search results for certain keyword searches. User results appear for the specified keyword searches on the search results page of a specific front end.

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

For more information, see Providing User Results.

Showing Document Previews

For documents in Microsoft Word (doc, docx), Microsoft PowerPoint (ppt) and Adobe pdf formats, the search appliance can show preview images in search results. To view a document preview, the user hovers the pointer over a magnifying glass icon next to the search result.

To show document previews, use the Search > Search Features > Document Preview Module page.

For more information about document previews, see Providing Document Previews

Refining Search Results

Enterprise content often contains information that is not appropriate for serving to all end users. For example, enterprise content may contain sensitive documents that are appropriate for members of an organization to view, but not for consumers to view. To ensure that the search appliance serves appropriate results to end users, you can create filters that prevent the sensitive data from appearing in search results for a particular front end. In this situation, you would probably create a meta tag filter.

The search appliance includes built-in filters for:

  • Duplicate snippets
  • Duplicate directories

These filters apply to the entire search index. For an overview of these filters, refer to Built-In Elements. You can also create filters for specific front ends results based on:

  • Language
  • Domain
  • File type

Unlike Query Expansion and OneBox Modules, filtering is not based on keywords in the search query. The search appliance filters all results for all end users of a particular front end.

To create filters for a front end, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page. For complete information about the Filters page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters in the Admin Console.

For more information about filters, refer to Using Filters to Restrict Search Results.

Removing Specific URLs from Results

Occasionally, a search index contains URLs that the search appliance should not serve to some or all end users. For example, an administrator has added jump pages, which are just lists of URLs, to the enterprise content for the purpose of getting unlinked URLs into the search index. The administrator wants to keep these jump pages in the search index, but does not want to serve the jump page URLs to end users. Other examples of URLs that administrators might want to prevent serving include URLs that are out-of-date and URLs that contain sensitive data.

You can prevent the search appliance from serving URLs that match specific patterns. Take note that specifying a long list of patterns can cause increased latency at serve time. Because you remove URLs from results for a front end, you can remove them for specific types of end users.

To specify URLs to remove from results for specific front ends in the Admin Console, use the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Remove URLs page. For complete information about the Remove URLs page, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Remove URLs in the Admin Console.

For more information about removing URLS, refer to Removing URLs from Search Results.

Removing URLs from the Search Index

The remove URLs feature affects results only. It does not remove URLs from the search index. To remove URLs from the search index, enter them in the Do Not Follow Patterns section on the Content Sources > Web Crawl > Start and Block URLs page in the Admin Console. For more information about removing URLs from the index, refer to Administering Crawl.

Influencing Results Ranking

On the search appliance, 100 algorithms are used to determine the sort order of the results that are returned. However, you may want to have some influence over how the search appliance ranks results.

The search appliance supports three ways to influence results ranking:

  • Source biasing--Lets you influence the way that the search appliance ranks search results based on the URLs in the result.
  • Date biasing--Lets you specify the age considerations that should influence a document's score.
  • Metadata and entity biasing--Lets you influence the way that the search appliance ranks search results based on metadata or entities in or associated with the result.
Because result biasing is specific to a front end, it can be aimed at specific types of end users.
 

To influence search appliance rankings, use a result biasing policy. A default result biasing policy (default_policy) is built into the search appliance. You can use default_policy, or create one or more custom result biasing policies. For a result biasing policy to affect search results, you must select it for use with a front end.

To set up result biasing:

  1. Create a result biasing policy by using the Search > Search Features > Result Biasing page in the Admin Console.
  2. Configure the result biasing policy by selecting features for influencing the score of a document by using the Search > Search Features > Result Biasing > edit page in the Admin Console.
  3. Enable the result biasing policy by selecting it for use with a front end by using the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page in the Admin Console.

For complete information about using these pages, refer to the Admin Console Help in the Admin Console.

For more information about result biasing, refer to Using Result Biasing to Influence Result Ranking.

Enabling Alerts

Another way of enhancing search results is by enabling users to monitor topics of interest by receiving search results for these topics in email messages. You can enable users to monitor topics this way by providing alerts. Alerts only work with public, non-secure results.

To provide alerts for users, you must:

  1. Configure an authentication mechanism for the search appliance to use to authenticate the user.
  2. Enable alerts for the search appliance by using the Index > Alerts page in the Admin Console.
  3. Show the My Alerts link for a specific front end by using the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page.

For complete information about using these pages, refer to the Admin Console Help in the Admin Console.

For more information about enabling alerts, refer to Providing Alerts for End Users.

Back to top

Changing the User Interface


As shown in Focusing on End Users, the Google Search Appliance user interface consists of a search page and results page. A user interface is associated with a specific front end. The search and results page examples in See Starting with a Basic Search Experience illustrate the user interface for the default front end. This user interface includes Google-specific elements, such as:
  • Google logo
  • Search Google button label

The user interface for the default front end can also be used with any other front ends that you create for a search appliance.

The search appliance allows maximum flexibility for customizing the appearance of the search and results pages. Often, an organization creates its own visual identity using elements such as:

  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Font faces

You can apply these elements to the user interface. The search and results page examples in Customizing the Basic Search Experience illustrate this type of change. In this example, the administrator adds the company logo and changed the font for the user interface.

When a search appliance has multiple front ends:

In this example, the administrator customized the results listings, the KeyMatches, and the language of the user interface for various type of end users.
 

The appearance of the results page is created when the search appliance's XSL transformation engine applies an XSLT stylesheet to search results in HTML. For an overview of this process, refer to See Search Experience Background.

The Page Layout Helper is a tool that you can use to make simple changes to the user interface. Without any knowledge of XSLT, you can use the Page Layout Helper to customize the appearance of:

  • Global attributes--Custom logo, font face, custom header, custom footer, analytics account
  • Search box--Length, button text or image, menu for searching by collection, radio button for searching public or public and secure content
  • Search results--Logo, Advanced search link, search tips link, search box (top), page divider (search information), Previous/Next link, Sort by Date/Relevance link, Dynamic result clusters, Snippet, URL link, page size, modified date, cache link, page footer, search box (bottom)

The Page Layout Helper is on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page. For complete information about the Page Layout Helper, click Admin Console Help > Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format in the Admin Console.

With knowledge of XSLT, you can make even more extensive changes to the user interface, such as changing labels and colors for

  • Spelling suggestions
  • Related queries
  • KeyMatches
  • Results listings

You can edit the XSLT stylesheet using the search appliance XSLT Stylesheet Editor on the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page, or another editor outside the search appliance. If you develop an XSLT stylesheet outside the search appliance, you can upload it to the search appliance using the Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page.

The following figure illustrates some of the user interface elements that you can customize.

For descriptions of changes that you can make to each of the user interface elements, refer to the key number in the following table.

Key

Description

1

Change the logo.

2

Customize the search box.

3

Show or hide a menu to search by collection.

4

Customize the search button.

5

Show or hide search options.

6

Customize the separation bar.

7

Show or hide sort options.

8

Customize the appearance of keyword matches.

9

Customize the contents of results listings.

10

Change the font faces, colors, and sizes of text on the page.

For details about modifying the user interface, refer to Customizing the User Interface.

Back to top

Where Is the Search Experience Created?


As indicated in the previous sections, you control most aspects of the search experience using the search appliance Admin Console. Many of the Admin Console pages that you use to create the search experience are front end pages. However, some elements of the search experience are created using different pages in the Admin Console.

This section provides overview tables of the different pages that you can use to create the search experience. This section also includes an overview of the search appliance's built-in elements.

Elements Defined in the Front End

The following table provides an overview of search experience elements defined using Admin Console front end pages.

Element

Defined Using Admin Console Page

Front end

Search > Search Features > Front Ends page

Page format

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page

Logo

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page, Page Layout Helper or XSLT Stylesheet Editor

Font face and color

Results page header

Search box

Search button

Separation bar

Navigation bars

Dynamic result clusters

Translation

Document previews

Advanced search reporting

Sort options

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Output Format page, XSLT Stylesheet Editor

Spelling suggestions

Show/Hide secure results radio button

KeyMatch

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > KeyMatch page

Related queries

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Related Queries page

Query expansion policy

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page

Filters

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page

Select a result biasing policy

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Filters page

Remove URLs

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > Remove URLs page

Select a OneBox module to use with a front end

Search > Search Features > Front Ends > OneBox Modules page

Elements Defined on Other Admin Console Pages

The following table provides an overview of search experience elements defined on Admin Console pages other than front end pages. While these elements are defined externally to the front end, each one must be enabled using a front end page (as listed in the previous section).

Element

Defined Using Admin Console Page

Query expansion

Search > Search Features > Query Settings page

OneBox modules

Content Sources > OneBox Modules page

Result biasing policy

Search > Search Features > Result Biasing page

Result biasing policy configuration

Search > Search Features > Result Biasing > edit page

Alerts

Index > Alerts page

Expert search

Search > Search Features > Expert Search page

User results

Search > Search Features > User Results page

Built-In Elements

The following table provides an overview of elements that are available by default.

Element

Comments

Automatic filtering: duplicate snippet filter

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. Default: enabled. When a search filter is enabled and removes some results, the search results output indicates that results were filtered.

Automatic filtering: duplicate directory filter

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. Default: enabled. When a search filter is enabled and removes some results, the search results output indicates that results were filtered.

Automatic language filter: Limit search to a specified language, as determined by the majority language used in the web document body

Automatic language filter. Possible to override using the lr query parameter and Boolean operators.

Number of search results

By default, ten results appear. Possible to override with the num query parameter.

Sorting results based on relevance.

By default, the search appliance uses hypertext-matching analysis and PageRank technologies to sort results by relevance.

For information about the lr and num query parameters, refer to the Search Protocol Reference.

Back to top

Search Experience Background


The Google Search Appliance response to a search query may appear to be instantaneous to an end user. However, in the background, each search query follows a six-step search process. The following diagram provides an overview of the search process.

The numbers in the diagram refer to the following steps in the process:

  1. The end user enters a search query using a search page.
  2. The Web browser converts the search query into a URL.
  3. The search appliance receives the search query and executes it.
  4. The search appliance returns search results in XML.
  5. The search appliance applies an XSLT stylesheet to the XML results and creates the search results page in HTML.
  6. The Web browser presents the search results page to the end user.

Entering a Search Query

An end user enters a search query into the search box. An end user can select other options on the search page by using check boxes, pull-down menus, or radio buttons. In the HTML code for the search page, these end-user input fields appear within <form> tags.

Converting the Search Query HTML to a URL

After an end-user clicks Search, the Web browser converts the fields within the <form> tags of the HTML page into a URL. This URL is sent to the search appliance as part of an inbound HTTP request message. The URL includes:

  • The search appliance name
  • An HTTP GET method
  • Attributes that specify input elements, such as a search box and search button
  • The search query, which is made up of several pairs of search appliance query parameters and values.

For information about search appliance query parameters and values, refer to the Search Protocol Reference.

Executing the Search

The Google Search Appliance receives the URL and uses the values in it to process the request and retrieve the results. The search appliance may perform additional actions when executing the search. Search terms and front end settings determine these additional actions. The following table lists front end settings and the actions they cause the search appliance to take.

Front End Setting

Condition

Action

The query expansion policy is set to standard, local, or full

The search term matches a synonym

Expand the query to include all synonyms

The query expansion policy is set to standard, local, or full

The search term matches a blacklist synonym

Do not search on the keyword that matches the synonym.

A OneBox module has been integrated in the front end

The search term matches a trigger

Return the OneBox module at the top of the search results.

The front end includes a KeyMatch

The search term matches a KeyMatch

Return the URL for the KeyMatch at the top of the search results.

The front end includes a related query

The search term matches a related query

Return the related query at the top of the search results.

The front end includes a domain filter

Applies to all searches

Search only for results in the specified domain.

The front end includes a language filter

Search only for results in the specified language.

The front end includes a file type filter

Search only for results with the specified file type.

The front end includes a meta tag filter

Search only for results that match the meta tag value.

The front end includes dynamic result clusters

The search term matches a dynamic result cluster

Return subcategories in the search results.

Result biasing policy is selected for the front end

The search returns results that match the result biasing policy configuration

Recalculate the document's ranking and display it in the results.

Remove URL patterns are identified in the front end

The search returns results that match a remove URL pattern

Remove matching URLs from the search results.

Returning Search Results as XML

The Google Search Appliance returns search results in standard XML in the body of an outbound HTTP response message. The body of the outbound HTTP response message includes the search results in XML. While it is not usual to return results to the end user in XML format, it is possible.

For information about returning XML results to end users, refer to the Search Protocol Reference.

Applying an XSLT Stylesheet to the XML Results and Create HTML Output

Before the Google Search Appliance displays the results set to the user, the search appliance applies the XSLT stylesheet to the XML results. The XSLT stylesheet contains instructions on how to format the results and results page in HTML. You can edit this XSLT stylesheet using the Page Layout Helper or XSLT Stylesheet Editor, which are briefly described in Changing the User Interface

Presenting Search Results to the End User

The process ends when the Web browser presents the search results to the end user on an HTML results page.

Back to top

Was this article helpful?
How can we improve it?