OutputLinks Searches for Precise Results
- By Kathleen Ohlson
- October 1, 2005
The 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’
“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
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
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.
Kathleen Ohlson is senior editor at Application Development Trends magazine.