Searching the Ledger: An Update (already)

(If you haven’t read Searching The Ledger, please do that first. And don’t forget Heidi’s helpful comment.)

I hope that column made clear I wasn’t unhappy the Ledger changed the search function. If not, that’s my error in article structure.

I’m putting my update here to give it the same exposure as the original column. (Something some newspapers forget to do. But, as far as I’ve found, not a problem with The Ledger.)

Let’s go:

Heidi, I don’t think my depiction of the search function was inaccurate. The steps are the same, no matter the term. No?

That was an actual search I made today. That search was the reason I discovered the function change and why I wrote the post.

That column was the impetus for a Letter to the Editor I read this morning. I searched for the column because I wanted to read it to better understand the letter.

Granted, it’s very difficult to find something that isn’t there. Maybe my results would have been quicker had I searched for something else, but the steps are the same no matter the search.

That’s because the nature of the search isn’t to find things that have easy to locate links. It’s to dig for that fact in a morass of information.

Here’s another search I just decided to make:

I’m looking for information on the Lakeland Academy.

1200 hits and the link I want is the 49th result.

(An aside to those unfamiliar with Google’s inner workings. There is no single Google result. Sometimes your results are skewed by which Google server you hit. They’re not all updated at the same time. The issue primarily affects heavily updated sites. Like newspapers and blogs.)

As I see the link I realize what I thought was called the “Lakeland Academy” is actually the “Lakeland Citizens Academy”

If I had used that term I would have had 77 results with the link I wanted at number 1.

Google suggests I look for “Lakeland Citizen’s Academy

That term gives me 81 results and my preferred link is still #1.

A better result, but not a different process.

I still put a term in Google and use the site: function.

And if anyone still gets the idea I think the change from the old search to the Google search is a step backward…I wasn’t clear enough.

The old search was slow. The new method is better, but has some quirks of its own.

For example, the old search could narrow the time frame pretty cleanly.

With Google you have this:

&as_qdr=m3

That’s the function to limit Google results to pages updated in the last three months. It’s not available easily from The Ledger, but you can access it by doing an advanced search at Google. Also available is a six month, year, and the default “anytime” search.

Rest assured that Google isn’t always correct when it decides a page was updated 3, 6, or 12 months ago.

A perfect search would be a specially written and heavily maintained function built into the content management system used by The Ledger.

There is no perfect search.

A combination of Google, Yahoo, and staff created links is the most efficient, and most cost-effective answer.

2 thoughts on “Searching the Ledger: An Update (already)

  1. Chuck: The change to Google search is a temporary fix. We were told yesterday that the problems with our search engine should be solved in the next few days. We were asked to remove our search box in the meantime in order to hasten the solution. Rather than leave readers without a search mechanism, we chose to redirect them to Google.

    A couple of notes:

    * Now that my What’s New Online blog has launched (whatsnewonline.theledger.com), I should have posted a note to inform readers of the temporary change.

    * Google does an excellent job of indexing our site. We get high rankings in standard Google and very high rankings in Google News. I have personally experienced excellent results in using Google’s site-specific search to find content in theledger.com.

  2. Chuck: The change to Google search is a temporary fix. We were told yesterday that the problems with our search engine should be solved in the next few days. We were asked to remove our search box in the meantime in order to hasten the solution. Rather than leave readers without a search mechanism, we chose to redirect them to Google.

    A couple of notes:

    * Now that my What’s New Online blog has launched (whatsnewonline.theledger.com), I should have posted a note to inform readers of the temporary change.

    * Google does an excellent job of indexing our site. We get high rankings in standard Google and very high rankings in Google News. I have personally experienced excellent results in using Google’s site-specific search to find content in theledger.com.

Comments are closed.