Search has 3 main components: Google (How the outside world finds you.), onsite, public search (Which is all about speed, relevance, and presentation/promotion), and onsite, private results (Where you append or replace your standard search results with guidance for your direct sales and sales partners about how to promote your products.).
Of course there are many search engines around the web, including the most recent addition by Facebook named Graphical Search but for this effort I will focus in on the 800 pound gorilla, Google. Google has two aspects, their natural or organic search results (normally items 3-7 on the first page of Google Query results) and paid position results (items 1-2, and the rest of the links that roll down the right side of the screen of results.
Google organic results come from the daily site indexing crawls of your site by Google (if you have a highly trafficed web site - this can be monthly or longer if your site does not generate a lot of visitors). The ranking of presentation for organic results which are free to web sites are based on a complex algorithm based on relevance, popularity, and link voting by other sites on the web that reference your web site.
Google paid placements are driven by a complex bidding process based on the frequency of keyword terms queried by users, the bid price for all of the potential bidders with available budget at that moment in time, and a fuzzy multiplier known as the quality score (the Q rating created by Google to explain all of the other cosmic things that happen inside of this tool without explaining it.). Basically, the placement of paid advertisements is a bidding process where the highest bidder gets the placement until their bid is exhausted and then the next highest and so on until everyone's budget is expended. The Q score tries to keep search results relevant even if someone bids a lot. It integrates whether searchers click on this advert and if they are satisfied that the destination result is relevant to their query.
Google organic results can be improved by consistent tuning of your content message so that each one of your landing pages is very focused on a specific topic. The position is improved based on the number of visitors to that page and on the sum of all of the other "votes" for that site that come from other web sites around the net. Basically, for every referral link to your site from some other site, your score improves. The better the ranking of the importance of the page that refers to your site, the higher the value of the "vote".
There is not much you can do to game the placement of your sites. The right approach is to understand your strategy, capture that brand message in the content of your pages, promote those pages through your marketing efforts and monitor your success on your key word search phrases. Highly productive pages for users with relevant content that are pointed at by your channel and business partners will begin to climb in the rankings. Monitor the referral terms from Google and see how people get to your site from those results. You can tune from there.
For onsite public search, you will use a suitable search indexing tool to create an index for your site. The typical site just returns these results to the screen with a simple style sheet from the default directions of the search tool. That is a start. A better approach is to gather that index and package it in a JavaServer Page (JSP) so that you can format the results in an appropriate way for your visitors. This allows you to sort the results so that the most recent results come first and it allows you to tailor the results by sceening out content that you do not want to present from the raw index. The best approach is to treat every search query as a marketing opportunity. Sort your results but also add your promotions for the latest products in that category and present them to the user in a useful way (much like you would do with your cross-sell and up-sell options in your product folders.
For onsite private search results, everything from onsite public search applies plus the addition of sales channel adjustments. Here, you would be dealing with a signed-on and identified visitor. You would give this visitor access to "secure" or private results that you would not want a general user to see. You can get very exotic here but basically, this is where you would present "How to sell" your parts for your sales channels.
This Web site is aimed at capturing some of the basic concepts I use when creating integrated marketing programs and leveraging the internet.
Phil Gibson ©2016