Inside look at internal search with Semphonic’s Gary Angel

Gary Angel, president and chief technology officer of Web analytics consultancy Semphonic, is a pro when it comes to Web and search engine marketing analytics. Semphonic clients include financial services giants American Express, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley; media powerhouses WebMD, NPD and AOL; and online players Intuit and CableOrganizer. Mr. Angel spoke with DM News’ Giselle Abramovich about internal search relative to the other navigational tools on a Web site.

What is internal search performance?

Internal search is the tool on your Web site that allows visitors to find relevant pages using keywords. The performance of your internal search is a function of how well your tool does this job. This is typically measured by the effectiveness of search in moving visitors to relevant content or into conversion paths.

How does it work?

Search works by indexing all of the pages on your Web site. When a user enters a keyword, your internal search engine returns the documents that most closely match the keyword. Because internal search tools are an essential element of a site’s performance, using Web analytics to measure their performance can produce significant improvements in overall site efficiency.

Why is there a need for such a tool?

For large sites, finding content can be onerous without an internal search function. Optimization of that function is essential, because even the best internal search engines will not always present the most effective content. In addition, there are numerous ways to use search behavior to better understand visitor intentions and optimization opportunities.

Have clients seen good results after optimizing their internal search?

The biggest positive results to internal search optimization typically come from the addition of tailored search results. However, each of the optimization techniques discussed including optimization of access, failed searches and routing performance have sometimes yielded significant overall site improvement. 

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