Your users want search

Local and site search has been some what of a pet subject of mine for some time, and I’ve talked to a few people in the industry about it. Yet, this is the first time I’ve heard the phrase “federated search.”

“We’re starting to hear the term ‘federated search’ pop up from different newspapers, without any prompting,” says Kelly (Catherine Kelly, President of HarvestInfo), who was recently promoted from CTO. “They say ‘we have six search boxes’” and want to clean it up. Kelly says the papers also want to stop isolating their shopping content from classifieds and display.

I’m not really out to pick a bone with Harvest, because they’re a good vendor, with good support and good products, but I have to wonder if Kelly isn’t inventing the term “federated search” to differentiate Harvest’s product from market leader Planet Discover? PD talks about “integrated search,” which I find a useful and more descriptive term, and the term I’ve heard most often from my colleagues.

It’s really all semantics, except when you have duplicate jargon, communication can get more confusing.

Adding integrated search to a newspaper Web site is one of the most important things a site manager can do for his or her business.

And to comment on something else attributed to Kelly in the quote above: that newspapers want to “stop isolating their shopping content from classifieds and display,” if that means creating “shopping sites” that integrate classified and display, I’m not sure that’s a good move. When thinking about ads, you need to consider people’s intentions and expectations. Shoppers looking for a used sofa aren’t interested in seeing ads for new furniture (and the opposite is true, too), and your advertisers don’t necessarily want to see their wares displayed next to some guy’s used junk (as they’d see it).

So, classifieds and shopping should have some separation, but that doesn’t mean some sort of contextual link isn’t appropriate.

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