September search improvements

Friday, October 03, 2008

Here are a few of the changes we made to Google Sites in September.

Stemming and Synonyms in search

Search is near and dear to our hearts (for obvious reasons), so we recently added stemming and synonym support to Google sites search. Stemming helps improve search results by expanding the results of a query to include other popular forms of the words searched. For example, if you search for "car racing" we would also return documents related to "car race." Taking into account synonyms also helps make it easy to find information on your site, like if you search for "auto insurance" we would also return results for "car insurance."

Search in "my sites"

Your "my sites" list includes all the sites where you are explicitly named as an owner, collaborator, or viewer. Previously the search box on this page searched public sites from everyone using Google Sites (or all sites within the domain for Google Apps users), but we have added an option in a drop down list next to the search box for times you may just want to search sites in which you are a participant.

Searching site names

When you search from the "my sites" page we now include site names and descriptions in that search. At the top of your search results, links are highlighted for sites with matching site names or site descriptions. As before, results below this "one-box" are for pages or attachments with content that matched your search.

Finding that page you want to link to

Linking between pages is a critical part of building and maintaining a wiki or website. We recently redesigned our link picker to make it easier to find a page. By default we return the most recent pages you updated or created. You will be amazed with how often this returns the page you want. There is a second tab that lists the most recent site changes. If the page you are looking for wasn't recently changed, there is a new quick search that helps you find the page you are hunting for.

While we were at it, we also added an option to open the link in a new window.

Description meta tag

Your site description is now automatically included as a description meta-tag. For public sites, the text from a description meta-tag may be used by some search engines in the search result snippets. Having a good description for your site can make it easier for people to understand what your site if it appears in search results.

Posted by: Michael Tildahl, Software Engineer