As of January, 2012, this site is no longer being updated, due to work and health issues

Guide to Search Tools

No-Matches Pages


Some searches just fail -- there are no pages or records which match the words and the commands in the query. To help your site visitors and customers in this case, make sure you provide context and advice. Remember, on the Web, they can often just bail out, and head straight to your competitor!

No-Matches Page Layout

Site Context and Navigation

Instead of a bare page saying that the search failed, show the standard site layout, including background colors, logos, text and link colors, and navigation links.

If you have a site map or Yahoo-style directory for your site, include it in the no-matches page -- otherwise you may want a statement of the site scope. That provides a positive way to help people understand what is available, and browse if they choose.

Search Again Field

Make sure there is a Search field, so people can try a different search. Don't make them click a link or otherwise take an extra step to search again.

Suggested Wording

Include some text that explains why the search might have failed, and what people can do next. This list is carefully worded to be positive and helpful, rather than blaming the user for the search failure. For example:

The search for [insert search terms here] found no matches on this site.

  • If you did not type a word in the Search box, you can do so now.

  • This search engine covers this site only -- if you want to search the entire Web, use AltaVista, Google, HotBot or one of the other public search engines.

  • If a word is misspelled, correct your spelling and search again.

  • You may need to use a synonym, such as "red" instead of "crimson".

  • If you have used uppercase letters, try using all lowercase.

  • If your search required certain terms (using + or a phrase in quote marks) or excluded terms (using -), there may be no page which matches exactly. Try doing a simpler search.

Example No-Matches Page with extensive help

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Avi Rappoport of Search Tools Consulting can help you evaluate your search engine, whether it's on a site, portal, intranet, or Enerprise. Please contact SearchTools for more information.

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