Site search is so often the poor relation. And ironically it's probably the one area of the website that delivers most UX bang for your website investment buck.
Inspired by Lou Rosenfeld's book 'Site Search Analytics' it's something that I've pushed on in recent years, with my nagging and prodding and proposing starting to pay off now as we have a new site search tool and active results management strategy in place at Edinburgh.
(Related posts: Search analytics book - free chapter (June 2011) and Analytics, site search & understanding user behaviour (September 2010))
So Gerry makes a very similar point - site search is so often the poor relation in website management and so many companies do a bad job of it. We put services like Google on a pedestal and think they're doing something so clever we can never get close. Well, true, they are doing some very clever things but one of those clever things is using real people and actively monitoring search behaviour and priority content.
From the New York Times article Gerry references and links to:
“Twitter uses a far-flung army of contract workers, whom it calls judges, to interpret the meaning and context of search terms that suddenly spike in frequency on the service.” In the presidential debates when Mitt Romney mentioned “Big Bird” in the context of cutting funding for public broadcasting, the term “Big Bird” spiked in search behavior. The human experts helped immediately steer these searches away from Sesame Street and towards political topics.Quality search requires quality people - article by Gerry McGovern