Storage Informer
Storage Informer

Software installation is only the beginning – Ranking and Relevancy

by on Jul.07, 2010, under Storage

Enterprise Search: Software installation is only the beginning – Ranking and Relevancy

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One of the most common misconceptions I hear almost on a weekly basis is that search is just a install and go piece of software. The simple fact is this just isn’t the case if you want to maximize you return on investment and improve your content’s findability, configuration is essential.

At it’s highest level the success of a search engine is it’s ability to return relevant results and ranked in a reasonable order. To do this a search expert typically will create what is known as a ranking and relevancy model. If your site or application has any degree of personalization/user types, multiple models may be required. (Some search engines attempt to do this automatically with varying degrees of success).

So I’ve got the ranking and relevancy model defined, I can leave it now right? Alas No. As you add new content sources to the search engine or the content changes, as should the model. So the model should be regularly maint ained. I’d recommend the following:

  • First month since go live (Weekly updates)
  • First 3 months since go live (Every 30 days)
  • First year, at least review the model every 90 days
  • And update the model(s) if any new content source is added

Sometimes the process of maintaining the model is an hour of work, other times it could be in the 8-16 hours range, it really depends on how much the content has changed since you last updated it.

So what’s the value of this and why should your company spend the money in maintaining the ranking and relevancy model?

Put simply it’s the difference between good search results and bad ones and from a business point of view it all ends up as  return on investment. If you don’t update the model regularly, the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars you invested will not generate a significant return. You users will complain about search, IT will look bad for a “failed” p roject and the board will wonder what the money was spent on.

To give you an example I hear from a new potential client who says “We have vendor a, but it doesn’t work after we spend $xxxxxxx of dollars, so now we want vendor b”. To which I always reply when was the last time the search engine was looked at and the ranking and relevancy refined. The answer I always get is “not since we installed it x years ago”.

So trust me, maintain your search engine, you won’t regret it.

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