Simulating Google’s secret sauce

Could you use your enterprise search product to improve how well your externally facing Web pages might do in a Google or Yahoo! search?

Well, yes. That’s what Jeff Watts is doing in his capacity as search and community manager for National Instruments, which makes software and hardware for scientists and engineers. Part of his job is to drive traffic, including potential customers and users with technical questions to the company’s Web site. By emulating Google’s search capabilities internally, the company can adjust external-facing Web pages to improve search performance.

Without knowing the secrets behind Google’s proprietary search system, but by using the company’s enterprise search solution, Fast Search Enterprise Search Platform, Watts and his colleagues were able to better understand how Google, Yahoo! and other search engines might measure the relevancy of a page.

“To emulate Google is impossible,” Watts says. “But to create something like Google is relatively easy within Fast Search.” He runs the improvised search engine internally against Web content before it goes live. “You can…do things like apply a heavier weight to the number of inbound links for a particular page—something that very grossly emulates Google’s PageRank algorithm.”

The process is undergoing more testing, Watts says. Already, the company has tweaked pages to make a vast improvement in its online technical support efficiency. “Other groups [in the company] are definitely looking at this,” Watts says.

The project was possible partly because Fast Seach has an open structure that allows customers like Watts to look at, and even change, the relevancy model—the complex set of algorithms that determines the ranking of items found in a search.

Back to Feature: Search Engines Look for Answers Inside the Enterprise

About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at [email protected].