OutputLinks Searches for Precise Results

De-coder: OutputLinks Searches for precise resultsThe results from an OutputLinks search used to be extensive—but cluttered—for users. More often than not, users waded through lots of findings for one piece of pertinent information.

OutputLinks is a portal for high-volume transaction output companies in more than 100 countries. The HVTO industry produces, manages and delivers bills, insurance policies, statements, corporate financials and other documents either for print or access online. These documents have a short lifespan and must be constantly regenerated from new data.

The portal’s clients, such as IBM and Xerox, want news articles, reports, whitepapers and product information related to their markets. OutputLinks used to use Yahoo and Google for its searches, but these public search engines didn’t yield specifics. Visitors got back “anything and everything related to a search,” says OutputLinks’ Andy Plata.

“We wanted control on presentation and development of the site as it grows,” says Plata, Output- Links’ president and CEO. “We wanted someone that wakes up in the morning and goes to bed thinking about search. We borrowed that kind of wisdom by outsourcing.”

OutputLinks selected Pico- Search as its hosted-site search engine. PicoSearch hosts a server farm, handles all the back-end systems and runs these sites 24-by-7. Its search hosting service runs on network Internet backbones, and its collocation infrastructure offers redundancy in connectivity and power, as well as a controlled temperature for equipment. The service also provides analytics tools for companies to quantify frequent queries, searches and findings, peak search times and searches, and unsuccessful findings on their sites.

Through OutputLinks now, visitors search more than 600 sites, with more than 200,000 pages of industry-specific content. When they visit a page in a specific topic, the search tool only sifts through information on that defined topic. “We have control of the presentation of the output,” Plata says. “We have the capability to add other sites, we can add and subtract at will.”

The hosted service offers a randomize feature, juggling Output- Links’ search results and offering OutputLinks’ users a fresh view. PicoSearch primarily displays search results by the number of hits and word rarity; another option is ranking search results to highlight shorter documents, because these documents may be more focused on a certain topic. OutputLinks users search from a range of documents, including Shockwave, MP3, rich text, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Adobe PDF and PostScript.

The HVTO portal now uses Pico- Search’s Platinum service plan for more search capability. The service plan, which starts at less than $10,000 per year, enables OutputLinks to separate Web site areas so visitors can search sub-topics. Visitors sometimes search OutputLinks’ people and photo section, and then article archives. For example, a visitor may read an editor’s column, then use the search tool to find only that editor’s prior columns.

Platinum offers an XML option for search result feeds which separates data from the way it’s displayed to site visitors. OutputLinks controls how these results are presented and tailors search result pages to its needs.

The Platinum service also delivers statistics, including total searches, total documents, top found and not-found terms, top found pages and top found partitions. If a user looks for a word that’s not on a Web site, then the not-found list tells the OutputLinks’ Webmaster or other IT pro to add this keyword to the appropriate pages.

Plata expects Output Links to add “additional eye candy” in the form of pay per click and graphics. Its PPC model will be similar to Google, so when search results are posted, advertisements will appear on the side of the results page. “Advertisers will pay you some money, hopefully lots of it,” Plata says.

About the Author

Kathleen Ohlson is senior editor at Application Development Trends magazine.