On Search Vendors…

tags: search

Here’s something I’m noticing about content search these days, especially search vendors –

There are two ways to look at search. (1) Do you want the searcher to find what THEY want to find, or (2) do you want the searcher to find what YOU want them to find?

Innocently, I would argue that search should always serve the user and help them find what they need. But after that use case is effectively covered, the vendor differentiation tends to be: here are a bunch of tools for you to guide users into finding what benefits YOU as much as possible.

In many ways, site search has simply become another marketing channel. And this is probably natural – you can only do so much with “pure” search before you reach a point where you (as a vendor) can’t stand apart. “Search as marketing” was really the only logical avenue for vendors to follow at that point.

Related to this, I maintain that search is probably the most overlooked metric in the world. When someone searches your site, it’s like they’re literally standing in front of your desk and saying, “This is what I need from you.”

Do you know how much money organizations spend trying to answer that question, when their customers are answering it for free a thousand times every day?

(Louis Rosenfeld actually wrote an entire book about this. I went to a “search metrics” workshop he did once. There’s SO much potential here for the average organization.)

This is item #36 in a sequence of 42 items.

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