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Search Tools Background Information

Introduction to Search Tools

Definition of search tools and description of sites that will benefit from searching.


Step-by-step description of how to prepare your site, choose a search tool, design interfaces, and analyze logs.


Explanation of important terms in searching.


Interesting research, articles, new products, etc.


Links to articles covering search tools in a general way.


Links to articles describing specific search tools in some depth.

Discussion Newsgroups and Mailing Lists

Links to Usenet Newsgroups and email mailing lists covering search and search tools.

Conferences and Meetings

Conferences List: Search-related conferences, including those covering information retrieval, metadata, web design and usability testing.

Slides from SearchTools Presentations

Meeting Reports

Special Reports

Recommendations in Search Results

How search engines can incorporate adjustments to the search results relevance rankings to provide more satisfactory answers to the common search questions.

Database Searching

Compares database and free-text searching, and describes the issues of text searching on database data, including search commands, flexibility, multiple field queries, database resources, relevance sorting and more.


The process of making categories for both browsing and creating topical groups in search results.

Classification Tools

Software products and services for creating categories of information and associating documents with those categories.

E-Commerce Search Engines

Surveys and research on the importance of search engines for online stores and other e-commerce sites.

Indexing and Content Date Issues

When servers report incorrect page modification dates, it wastes indexer time, server cycles, bandwidth and everything else. This analysis describes several common kinds of date errors, and their implications, as well as some approaches for solving these problems.

Information Architecture and Search Engines

About the emerging discipline of Information Architecture, which is about designing web sites and other repositories for best access, organization and future expansion. Links to books, articles and sites with an emphasis on integrating search with information architecture.

Information Retrieval (IR)

Background on the academic discipline of Information Retrieval, which has been studying search and related issues for more than 40 years.

Natural Language Information Retrieval (NLP)

Information about research in Natural-Language Processing for searching, designed to allow people to ask questions in full sentences rather than key words.

Cross-Language Information Retrieval

Visualization and Concept Clustering

Organizing the results of searches to display patterns and concepts

Intranet Search

Information on search engines used for internal corporate networks and enterprise information portals (EIPs).

Knowledge Management

Organizing the flow of information within an institution to make it more easily shared, generally within a corporation or enterprise.

Metadata and Search

Metadata is information about information. It can be as simple as an author's name or as complex as a peer-reviewed abstract. Library catalogs are meta data, as are book reviews, indexes to art collections and database keyword fields. Meta data has more structure than text, so it provides more scope for locating useful information with the best recall and precision.

Meta Search Engines

Engines which query multiple search engines and collate the results together.

Multimedia Search

As more digital multimedia archives are developed, they require specialized search engines can index and search these formats. Video and audio are hard to browse, so search engines can save significant time and effort in locating useful content.

Indexing multimedia is much more complex than indexing text. In some cases the media can be converted to text: broadcast television often includes digital text as closed-captions for the hearing impaired, and scene titles and captions within a video can be converted to text using OCR. Speech-recognition technology can digitize words spoken on audio tracks. Continuous media, such as video, also can be broken up into chunks by transitional effects, for better precision in results. Some groups are also working on form and shape recognition, which could allow searchers to draw a shape, such as a bridge or a tumor; or select an example picture and find others like it.

Special File Formats

Searching PDF

Description of the issues surrounding indexing and searching Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files

Searching MP3

MP3 files are the most common form of digital music served on the Web at this time. In addition to the encoding of music itself, this file format has provision for a small amount of metadata about the file. This textual metadata is indexable and searchable if the search engine knows about the file format.

User Interface and User Experience

Applying techniques and principals of user experience to improve search engines.

Search Suggestions

Using human judgment to improve the user experience for common queries

Eight Principals for Good Search Suggestions

A practical approach to making best use of resources when creating and maintaining search suggestions.

Visualization of Search Results

Displaying search results in 2d or 3d graphical clusters, to show topical groups.

Web Search Indexing Robots

Information about how web indexing robots work, problems they might have, robots.txt, and robots meta tags.

Simple URLs for Search Engine Robots

Dynamic URLs, with question marks and other punctuation, tend to put off search engine indexing robots, as well as humans looking at URLs. URL rewriting is a way to convert dynamic URLs to simple ones, but there are problems, mainly with relative links to graphics and other pages. This article offers a checklist for changing URLs on a site, links to detailed instructions for Apache and PHP, and links to rewrite filters for IIS/ASP sites.

Testbed for Indexing Robots

Web Wide Search Engines

Links to general-purpose public search engines, as opposed to searchtools for installation

Search Engine Optimization

information and consultants for getting web sites indexed by web search engines.

Why Searches Fail

A discussion of the most common reasons for searches to return no results, including vocabulary, scope and syntax errors.

XML and Search

Issues of searching text marked up with XML-based tags

XML Search Resources

Full text search engines, query engines and query languages for XML.

Distributed Indexing with SOIF and RDM

Sharing indexes to avoid duplication of effort, a set of protocols that was popular in the mid-90s and is still going strong in Europe.

Page Updated: 2007-01-04

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