Who I Am Search Analytics for Fun and Pro t

An Event Apart Chicago, Illinois August 27, 2007 Lou Rosenfeld www.rosenfeldmedia.com Information architecture consultant to Fortune 500s Publisher and founder, Rosenfeld Media Blog at www.louisrosenfeld.com Co-author, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (3rd ed., 2006; O’Reilly) New book: Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with your customers (2008; Rosenfeld Media): www.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/searchanalytics

Anatomy of a Search Log (from Google Search Appliance)
Critical elements in pink: IP address, time/date stamp, query, and # of results: XXX.XXX.X.104 - - [10/Jul/2006:10:25:46 -0800] "GET /search?access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD %3AL%3Ad1&ud=1&site=AllSites&ie=UTF-8&client=www&oe=UTF8&proxystylesheet=www&q=lincense+plate&ip=XXX.XXX.X.104 HTTP/1.1" 200 971 0 0.02 XXX.XXX.X.104 - - [10/Jul/2006:10:25:48 -0800] "GET /search?access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD %3AL%3Ad1&ie=UTF8&client=www&q=license+plate&ud=1&site=AllSites&spell=1&oe= UTF-8&proxystylesheet=www&ip=XXX.XXX.X.104 HTTP/1.1" 200 8283 146 0.16 XXX.XXX.XX.130 - - [10/Jul/2006:10:24:38 -0800] "GET /search?access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD %3AL%3Ad1&ud=1&site=AllSites&ie=UTF-8&client=www&oe=UTF8&proxystylesheet=www&q=regional+transportation+governance+ commission&ip=XXX.XXX.X.130 HTTP/1.1" 200 9718 62 0.17

The Zipf Curve: Short Head, Middle Torso, Long Tail

Keep It In Proportion

What’s the Sweet Spot?
Rank 1 14 42 98 221 500 7877 Cumul. % 1.40 10.53 20.18 30.01 40.05 50.02 80.00 Count 2464 housing 1351 webenroll 650 computer center 295 msu union 124 hotels 7 department of surgery Query

7218 campus map 5859 map
3745 3690 3584
3229 3204

7218 campus map

im west
library study abroad
schedule of courses bookstore
angel cata


Topical Patterns and Seasonal Changes

Where will you Capture Search Queries?
1. The search logs that your search engine naturally captures and maintains as searches take place Search keywords or phrases that your users execute, that you capture into your own local database Search keywords or phrases that your commercial search solution captures, records, and reports on (Mondosoft, Visual Sciences, Ultraseek, Google Appliance, etc.)



Querying your Queries: Getting started
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. What are the most frequent unique queries? Are frequent queries retrieving quality results? Click-through rates per frequent query? Most frequently clicked result per query? Which frequent queries retrieve zero results? What are the referrer pages for frequent queries? Which queries retrieve popular documents? What interesting patterns emerge in general?

Tune your Questions: From generic to speci c
Net ix asks
1. 2. 3. Which movies most frequently searched? Which of them most frequently clicked through? Which of them least frequently added to queue?

Diagnose This: Fixing and improving the UX
1. User Research 2. Content Development 3. Interface Design: search entry interface, search results 4. Retrieval Algorithm Modi cation 5. Navigation Design 6. Metadata Development

User Research: What do they want?…
SA is a true expression of users’ information needs (often surprising: e.g., SKU #s at clothing retailer; URLs at IBM) Provides context by displaying aspects of single search sessions


User Research: …what else do they want?…
BBC provides reports to determine other terms searched within same session (tracked by cookies)

User Research: …who wants it?…
Speci c segments needs as determined by:
     Security clearance IP address Job function Account information Alternatively, you may be able to extrapolate segments directly from SA

Pages they initiate searches from

User Research: …who wants it?…
BBC’s top queries report from children’s section of site

User Research: …and when do they want it?
Time-based variation (and clustered queries) from MSU
 By hour, by day, by season  Helps determine “best bets” development  Also can help tune main page and other editorial content

Content Development: Do we have the right content?
Analyze 0 result queries
 Does the content exist?  If so, there are titling, wording, metadata, or indexing problems  If not, why not?

Content Development: Are we featuring the right stu ?
Track clickthroughs to determine which results should rise to the top (example: SLI Systems) Also suggests which “best bets” to develop to address common queries BBC removes navigation pages from search results

From www.behaviortracking.com


Search Entry Interface Design: “The Box” or something else?
Identify “dead end” points (e.g., 0 hits, 2000 hits) where assistance could be added Query syntax helps you select search features to expose (e.g., use of Boolean operators)

Search Results Interface Design: Which results where?
#10 result is clicked through more often than #s 6, 7, 8, and 9 (ten results per page)


From SLI Systems (www.sli-systems.com)

Search Results Interface Design: How to sort results?
Financial Times has found that users often include dates in their queries Obvious but e ective improvement: allow users to sort by date

Search System: What to change?
Add functionality: Financial Times added spell checking Retrieval algorithm modi cations
 Financial Times weights company names higher  Net ix determines better weighting for unique terms and phrases

Deloitte, Barnes & Noble, Vanguard demonstrate that basic improvements (e.g., Best Bets) are insu cient (and justify increased $$$)

Navigation: Any improvements?
Michigan State University builds A-Z index automatically based on frequent queries

Navigation: Where does it fail?
Track and study pages (excluding main page) where search is initiated
 What do they search? (e.g., acronyms, jargon)  Are there other issues that would cause a “dead end”? (e.g., tagging and titling problems)  Are there user studies that could test/validate problems on these pages? (e.g., “Where did you want to go next?)


Metadata Development: How do searchers express their needs?
Tone and jargon (e.g., “cancer” vs. “oncology,” “lorry” vs. “truck,” acronyms) Syntax (e.g., Boolean, natural language, keyword) Length (e.g., number of terms/query; Long Tail queries longer and more complex than Short Head) Everything we know from analyzing folksonomic tags applies here, and vice versa

Metadata Development: Which values and attributes?
Uncover hierarchy and identify
 Metadata values (e.g., mobile vs. cell)  Metadata attributes (e.g., genre, region)  Content types (e.g., spec, price sheet)

SA combines with AI tools for clustering, enabling concept searching and thesaurus development

Metadata Development: Leveraging di erences in the curve
Variations in information needs emerge between Short Head and Long Tail Example: Deloitte intranet’s “known-item” queries are common; research topics are infrequent

Organizational Impact: Educational opportunities
“Reverse engineer” performance problems
 Vanguard
 Tests “best” results for common queries  Determines why these results aren’t retrieved or clicked-through  Demonstrates problem and solutions to content owners/authors bene ts

known-item queries

research queries

 Sandia Labs does same, only with top results that are losing rank in search results pages

Organizational Impact: Reexamining assumptions
Financial Times learns about breaking stories from their logs by monitoring spikes in company names and individuals’ names and comparing with their current coverage Discrepancy = possible breaking story; reporter is assigned to follow up Next step? Assign reporters to “beats” that emerge from SA

SA as User Research Method: Sleeper, but no panacea
Bene ts
    Non-intrusive Inexpensive and (usually) accessible Large volume of “real” data Represents actual usage patterns

 Provides an incomplete picture of usage: was user satis ed at session’s end?  Di cult to analyze: where are the commercial tools?

Complements qualitative methods (e.g., persona development, task analysis, eld studies)


SA Headaches: What gets in the way?
 Lack of time  Few useful tools for parsing logs, generating reports  Tension between those who want to perform SA and those who “own” the data (chie y IT)  Ignorance of the method  Hard work and/or boredom of doing analysis

Please Share Your SA Knowledge: Visit our book in progress site
Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with your Customers by Louis Rosenfeld and Richard Wiggins (Rosenfeld Media, 2008)

Most of these are going away…
* From summer 2006 survey (134 responses), available at book site.

Site URL: www.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/searchanalytics/ Feed URL: feeds.rosenfeldmedia.com/searchanalytics/

Contact Information
Louis Rosenfeld Rosenfeld Media, LLC 705 Carroll Street, #2L Brooklyn, NY 11215 USA +1.718.306.9396 lou@louisrosenfeld.com www.louisrosenfeld.com www.rosenfeldmedia.com