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The customer

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. The team is responsible for managing and developing web services, including the nearly 50,000-page University websites and 1,500 websites.

Squiz partnered with the University of Edinburgh to implement a new search tool. Squiz presented a responsively designed search tool, Funnelback. This would create a website with the flexibility to meet the University's needs of having a search tool that is easy to access, quick, and categorizes data and content.

The challenge

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

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 need, quickly, without having to make multiple searches. They went to tender and selected Squiz as their digital partner.

An extensible framework catering for a variety of website types – and adapt to diverse content and design needs.

  • Integrations with major databases and drupal
  • Improve standards compliance and the user experience.
  • A tool that provided in-depth reporting capabilities, data-driven insights, and search analytics.
  • SEO auditor to enhance web presence, website structure, and improve overall SEO.
  • Tools for automated content migration, reduction of duplicate content, and searchability of data.

We couldn’t have done anything like this without the reporting capabilities of Funnelback...With Google, it wasn’t even a possibility. That extra insight from Funnelback is extremely, extremely critical

Stratos Filathisis
Head of Website & Communication Technologies
The approach

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 search vision.

To achieve the objectives for the website, other services were integrated into Funnelback: staff and contact databases, course directories, research information, and more. We introduced search auditing techniques to ensure quality across their new tool. On a roughly monthly basis, the team picks the three to five hundred top terms from their Funnelback search analytics. They look at the top five search results for each term, assessing whether the most desirable result is appearing near the top, then create a report that indicates, for top terms, how the search is performing.

Based on the reports, a number of changes have been made to fine-tune the search system. Utilizing the reporting capabilities, analytics, and data-driven insights from Funnelback, including SEO auditor, the University removed all but the highest-priority sites from the index, surfacing only content from the homepage and improved the user experience.

The web team used the content and accessibility auditors available in their search engine Funnelback. The results of this gave them the insight needed to firstly improve accessibility. It also enabled them to review content quality and identify content that was not helpful to end-users. Their audit identified hundreds of duplicate pages and content that was out of date.

The results

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. The team has also pulled learnings from the reports anecdotally, helping to prevent similar errors from occurring when creating and publishing new content.

Funnelback picked up a lot of the metadata structures which the team hoped to discover with their new tool. A long-term success factor is the additional capabilities provided by integrating with other services. This made the implementation of Funnelback capabilities like autocomplete even easier.

Squiz helped the University of Edinburgh implement common methods and best practices, which combined with process efficiency, helped to reduce content duplication, and enhanced accessibility.

Crucially, the University of Edinburgh was empowered to provide users with an easy, accessible, and quick search tool that helps users complete their search faster, and catalogs all the useful data content.

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