As search engine marketers, we spend an enormous amount of time
trying to get targeted traffic to our site. But, once those
visitors get to our site, can they find what they're looking
for? If not, guess what? We've lost a customer.
Think about it this way. How many times have you found a site
through a major search engine or directory, only to visit the
site and not be able to find what you're looking for anywhere on
the site? What do you do next? You go back to the search engine
and click on the next site. That site has lost a customer: you.
Helping your visitors find what they're looking for on your site
can cover a great many areas, such as navigation, user interface
issues, and the lack of a clear "call to action."
But one way around many of those issues is to offer an onsite
search engine, so that once visitors hit your site, they can
easily find exactly what they're looking for.
The really neat thing about onsite search engines is that many
of them are FREE. Yes, you read right: free. Of course, that
also means that you may have ads in your search results, which
may or may not present problems for you. However, even if you
choose to purchase an onsite engine, the cost is generally not
What should you look for in an onsite search engine?
* Good customer support. If you begin to have problems with the
engine, you want to be able to get help in fixing it.
* Reports that let you know what people are searching for once
they reach your site. Just think of the GOLD this will tell you!
If you don't have a page that covers a particular topic, make
* Ease in setting up the engine. This may or may not be an issue
to you, but if you're like me, you want something that is simple
to set up and maintain.
* An extensive "help" section at the site that will walk you
through setting up the engine and answer any questions you might
* The ability to keep the engine out of certain areas of your
site that you don't want spidered and available through the
search, such as employee areas, password-protected member areas,
* The ability to spider password-protected areas so that your
member areas can have their own onsite search.
* The ability to customize search results pages.
* The capability to request re-indexing whenever you update the
site, or even to schedule re-indexing on a regular basis.
In my training material and resource library at the Academy, I
had an onsite search engine for a long time. Then, the company
folded. Until recently, I hadn't set up another onsite engine,
because the one onsite engine that I really wanted to use didn't
index password-protected areas. So, I "patiently" waited for the
onsite engine, FreeFind, to add this to their list of features.
When they recently did, I jumped on it, and now both of my
online training programs have excellent onsite search engines
through FreeFind (http://www.freefind.com).
But why did FreeFind stand out among the others, and why was it
so important to me to wait until they could index password-
protected areas? FreeFind offers some features that I couldn't
find on other onsite search engines, features that would help me
tremendously with my work.
* FreeFind will automatically create a What's New page, after
you've any changes to the site. Just think of how much help that
will be for me with my training material? Between my two
programs (beginning and advanced), I have over 1000 resource
pages to update every single month, and I've been creating the
"What's New" page by hand. Now, it's automatically created for
* FreeFind is the only onsite search engine that enables your
visitors to find the page they're looking for, then keeps an eye
on it for any changes. Their ChangeDetection (tm) monitoring
system lets your users monitor a page for content changes, then
notifies them when the page is changed. If you set up this
engine on your own site, it will build traffic by turning
casual, one- time visitors into repeat and loyal visitors who
return again and again to look at changes made to the page that
are of particular interest to them.
* FreeFind will automatically create a Site Map of your site.
This Site Map is an alphabetical listing of the pages on your
site. The Site Map will be even more valuable to you if you have
a regular, non-password protected site, because it will give the
Web search engines a page of links to spider.
* FreeFind will search across several domains. So, if your
company has numerous domains, your onsite search engine will
cover each of those domains, without having to set up separate
Look closely at your site. Is it time to add an onsite search
engine? Is it time to make sure visitors can find exactly what
they're looking for when they land on your site? Are you losing
customers who get lost and can't find what they want?
FreeFind (http://www.freefind.com) is an excellent onsite search
engine that met my exact needs. However, to be fair, and because
this article isn't meant to be an advertisement for FreeFind,
here are some other onsite engines that you may want to
consider. Look closely at their features, and find the one that
works best for you.
Other Onsite Search Engines
A listing of numerous onsite search tools:
http://www.searchtools.com ools ools.html
About the author:
Robin Nobles, Director of Training, Academy of Web Specialists,
has trained several thousand people in her online search engine
marketing (http://www.academywebspecialists.com) training
programs. Visit the Academy's training site to learn more about
their online search engine marketing training
(http://www.onlinewebtraining.com) and search engine
optimization (http://www.se-optimizer.com) software.