Best search solution for Accessify?

OK, a little request for ideas here. As mentioned in the previous post from me, I’ve gone and migrated all posts to WordPress. There’s still some work to do (a lot of older posts are mis-titled) but one thing that I’d like to change at this time is the way search works.

For a long time, this site relied on Atomz but the results were frankly rubbish. So I’ve changed it to a scoped Google search for the time being.

Wordpress is database-driven so it would be easy to use that search facility, but it would only be searching against the news posts, not the rest of the site which is not database-driven.

Ideally, I guess what I’m after doesn’t exist - a method for searching database-driven content in Wordpress and also searching the static pages on the server. Am I right in this assumption (in which case I’d be as well to stick with the simple scoped Google search)?

If you have flashes of insight to offer on this topic, please do add a comment below. Thanks!

Filed under: Site Admin
Posted by Ian on Sunday, July 2, 2006

9 Comments

  1. So says Matt Round

    For a quick’n'easy temporary solution you could use the WordPress search, but add a Google link to the results page (with the query already inserted via PHP) along with explanatory text.

    Added July 3, 2006 at 12:00 am

  2. So says bruce

    Mind you, I’ve had trouble with the WP search giving 404s on some (seemingly-random) search terms that I know exist ..

    Added July 3, 2006 at 9:36 am

  3. So says Lucy

    I’d probably have a look at using the straight wordpress search as a simple search, but then have an advanced search option where you can switch between searching all pages, or just posts. Then use word press for the posts search but use Googles Public Service Search option for pages. If you then use Google Site Maps you should find that there’s not the same delay on getting new posts indexed by Google. Hopefully you then get the best of both worlds, although tweaking the interface so it makes sense to users will be the biggest challenge.

    There is one downside though - the way results are displayed in google’s public service search uses the same code as google’s normal results and is really rather rubbish… this, that…

    Added July 3, 2006 at 11:23 am

  4. So says Martin

    If I were you, I’d put all posts including very old ones in the database in order to be searchable by the WP search.

    Personally, I hate half-measures such as some posts in a database, and some not.

    There are some solutions to your enquiry but they are as elegant as my suggestion that all posts should be database-driven.

    All you gotta do is just make time to migrate all posts to the WP database. It’s all worth it for the search, but up to you :)

    Added July 3, 2006 at 4:19 pm

  5. So says SchizoDuckie

    Have a look at Sphider, it’s in PHP and has the google-look-and-feel.

    The best of all is, it works using a spider in a webinterface, and you can automatically add content to it on-the-fly. There’s also extensive support for not indexing some parts of pages, templates, query stats, spidering logs, etc.

    Runs smoothly on 2 of my sites.

    http://www.cs.ioc.ee/~ando/sphider/

    Added July 3, 2006 at 7:32 pm

  6. So says Ian

    Are you dissatisfied with the Google results?

    Personally, I rarely use site searches, because:
    A) I find the results are often weak or dubious,
    B) site based search engines I feel are relatively slow,
    C) I’m a horrible speller and site searches rarely have decent spellchecking, and
    D) I can more easily expand my searches to the entire web just by removing site: for instance.

    Of course these aren’t true everywhere, but I’ve had enough bad experiences on even well funded and staffed sites, that I rarely even look at site search boxes (one exception being Wikipedia, which I use despite having most of the flaws I’ve listed here–I guess it has to do with placement–often I resort to Google eventually).

    I never understood the desire that publishers (of which I must admit, I am not) had with running and maintaining their own search databases and engines. It seems like a lot of overhead for something that’s really, really hard to do well.

    ~~Ian

    Added July 4, 2006 at 7:34 pm

  7. So says Nicole

    I think the choice to go to Wordpress was a good one, it’s a really strong system and I’m happy that I switched to it. There is a plugin called ‘Search Everything’ ( http://wp-plugins.net/plugin/searcheverything/ ) that you might try, but even that is only going to search all posts, pages (wordpress pages), and comments.

    On the other hand, I see absolutely nothing wrong with using a Google search entirely, so long as you are getting good results.

    Added July 5, 2006 at 1:47 pm

  8. So says Ian Lloyd

    Thanks all. I am actually very happy with the quality of the search results from Google but there are a couple of issues.

    Firstly, I know that Google’s results are not going to be as up-to-date as a search on WordPress database.

    Secondly, while the results work for me, the display of the search results is not perfect - in other words, it looks like a Google search page, it’s not integrated with the rest of the site design.

    Having said that, it does effectively return results whether they are WordPress-powered content (for the news updates) or content stored on the server in static pages (basically everything else).

    Is there any way I can customise the Google search results page any further? (I’m sure I’ve seen a Google search results page feature a site’s icon - but perhaps that’s a premium, paid-for service).

    Added July 5, 2006 at 2:51 pm

  9. So says Nicole

    Google has a page to customize the results page. You can find that here: http://www.google.com/services/free.html

    While that may be sort of what you are looking for, it is somewhat lacking in that the results pages are generated with quite lousy HTML. It might do for the short term though.

    You can generate fully customizable results with the Google API, but for that you’ll need to do a little scripting, and get a Google key for API access ( http://www.google.com/apis/ ).

    There are a couple of examples of embedded search and some example scripts at the following:
    At fiftyfoureleven.com
    At Dankarran.com (I really like the search results of this one, he uses it on his search page for the site.)

    I’m sure there are others floating around, but those two have some full examples given on how to do it.

    Added July 6, 2006 at 4:50 pm

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