Tuesday, October 9, 2007

MotorcycleUSA.com replaces basic website search with Google Mini

Written by Don Becklin
Motorcycle USA

MotorcycleUSA.com is the most comprehensive motorcycle magazine on the web, offering, industry news, buyer's guide, race coverage, message boards and more. In addition, our Motorcycle-Superstore.com ecommerce site offers a range of the finest in motorcycle gear, parts and accessories.

With both a magazine and ecommerce site to manage, we needed high-performance search for various and different reasons. For our magazine, we wanted easy access to archives for our editors and readers, accurate keyword search, ability to add synonym results, and the Google look and feel so familiar to our site visitors.

For our ecommerce site, we primarily needed a way for customers to easily find one particular product; for customer service reps to quickly get both service rep and customer on the same page during a call; easy customization overall to help refine results based on search criteria; and options for additional merchandising capabilities to push specific products and sales based upon related search terms.

Prior to deploying Google search technology, we used a simplistic search technology for site search on both web sites. The previous site search only looked at product descriptions and page text and had trouble putting the search results into a context that made sense to users and customers. Because Google.com is the preeminent Internet search engine, we felt that using Google based search technology on our websites would best meet our needs and deliver the relevant search results our staff, readers customers seek - everyday.

Currently, we are deploying the Google Mini for the MotorcycleUSA.com magazine and the Google Search Appliance (GSA) for the Motorcycle Superstore to take advantage of the additional capabilities of the GSA. We appreciate the fact that the Google Mini and GSA spider the sites from the front/user side. This methodology leads to better search results and less back-end management issues than if we were dealing with a database focused search technology. Once set-up, we've found the Google Mini and GSA provided dependable site search that needs little maintenance. And the Google search algorithm is obviously best in class, and we value having that technology available on our sites.

Google Support for the Google Mini and GSA has been outstanding. From initial training seminars and tips for optimizing use of the products to quick responses to product-related questions, Google has provide us the product support we need when we need it.

Site search was something we used to try to hide and dissuade users from using until we implemented search using the Google Mini and GSA. Now it's a tool that outside users and internal employees can use with great effectiveness.