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A search bar to navigate 50,000 web pages

With over 50,000 pages spread across 1,500 different websites, the University of Edinburgh was looking for a more robust search tool.

Stéphane Recouvreur

Stéphane Recouvreur 28 September 2022

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world's top 50 universities. The University’s Information Services Group was established to support the function, strategy, and delivery of excellence in teaching and research at the University of Edinburgh.

Industry

Higher Education

Products

Search

A focus on analytics

After the discontinuation of support for the Google search appliance and the tool not providing the reporting capabilities and insights desired, the University of Edinburgh decided to look for another search tool.

The University had utilized paid Google site search solutions for a number of years. Looking for more than a like-for-like replacement, they issued a procurement exercise to identify a superior solution that could connect to multiple sources and fulfill their new search vision.

With responsibility for managing and developing web services, including 50,000 pages and 1,500 websites, they wanted a search tool that helps site visitors find the content they needed, quickly, without having to make multiple searches.

The University of Edinburgh had many requirements to fulfill.

First, the search tool had to be able to crawl many different types of databases, such as staff and contact databases, course directories, research information, etc, and work with Drupal, their CMS of choice.

Second, reporting capabilities were very important for the marketing team. The goal was to be able to draw data-driven decisions based on user behavior observed through the search tool.

Third, SEO was another important aspect of this project. The solution was to assist in reducing duplicate content, improve website structure and enhance the web presence of the University on the main search engines.

“We couldn’t have done anything like this without the reporting capabilities of Squiz search solution,” explains Stratos Filathisis, Head of Website & Communication Technologies. “With Google, it wasn’t even a possibility. That extra insight is extremely, extremely critical”.

More relevant search results

The first recommendation from the Squiz service team was to introduce search auditing techniques to ensure quality across their new tool.

With the ability to easily generate reports and receive insights, the web team is now able to quickly identify and address new issues in content and accessibility across all sites.

Every month, the team selects the top 500 terms from their search analytics and assesses, for each of them, whether the most desirable result is appearing at the top. Based on the results, a number of changes are made to fine-tune the search results and resurface high-value pages.

Armed with this new reporting capability, the University was able to review content quality and identify content that was not helpful to end-users. The web team removed all but the highest-priority sites from the search index, surfacing only highly relevant content to the user.

The audit also help them identify hundreds of duplicate pages and content that were out of date.

For a better user experience

From an SEO perspective, the search insights give the University the ability to visualize missing metadata information across all its web properties, empowering its web team to implement SEO strategies at scale to improve its Google ranking.

Autocomplete

The search experience is also further enhanced by the autocomplete feature, made possible by the high level of integration provided by the search tool itself. Users can now complete their search faster, reducing search abandonment and increasing time spent on the website.