Getting Listed on the Internal Search Engine
(Why is my competitors product 'ahead' of mine?)?

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This is a brief discussion of how the search engine on the malls works.

  1. The search engine works to evaluate the words that the customer entered against our database.   If you have the unique item that best suits the customer's information request, it will be listed first.   How is this done?

    The search engine compares the terms that the customer has entered against a combination of information (title, category description, item description, etc.) for each item in the database.  Each item is assigned a 'relevance' score by the search engine.  Entries that come closer to matching the terms that the customer used, are considered to have a better relevance.   If we have two entries with equal relevance, the one with the higher price is presented first.  Why?  Because everyone is looking for a bargain and we have found that if we present the more expensive items first, the customers tend to look at more items.    If you want to see the relevance score of any item, you can use the 'view source' option for the page of search results.  The relevance score for each item is displayed in the HTML in a comment at the beginning of the item.  Its in this format: 

    <!--  Relevance score: 0.2457 -->. 

The lower the score, the better a 'fit' the search engine considers it to be to the customer's query, so an item with a relevance score of 0 is the best match that the search engine can find.

Note:  The best strategy for getting found is to be the sole party that has what the customer wants.   In the case where there are two dealers with items that appear identical to the search engine, price rules.   We do understand that you'd like to have your product show up first in response to any query, but your competitor feels the same way.   The advice below will help you tune your descriptions and titles to get the best possible listing. 

  1. The search engine indexes several fields and these are all considered in your item rating: your category name, the title of your item and the description. Using titles is not mandatory on TIAS, but if you are not using them, you are quite severely impacting the likelihood of your item being found by people using the search engine. Given two items, both with identical descriptions, and only one with the title where the title and the descriptions match the search criteria, the search engine will give the item with the title a much higher rating than the one without and will display the one with the title first.. So be sure to use titles for your items.

  2. The category description is used as part of the search criteria. So if you are using something that really does not describe your category, your item will be rated lower than ones where the category matches the search term. For instance, we had one site that had nice silver flatware, but titled their section 'For the dining room'. Other sites titled the category for similar items 'Sterling Silver'. When customers searched for 'Silver', the second dealer's products were more likely to be found.  Make your category titles explicit. Note that this does NOT apply to the category groups ('types'). So if you have a lot of things for a dining room -- flatware, plates, etc and want to create a category group called 'For the Dining Room' and have categories under it like 'Flatware', that will work very well and your items will be found by the search engines.

  3. The search engine also matches on words in your descriptions. It uses spaces and standard punctuation to determine where the end of a word is. If you use dashes to separate words thusly "cool jewelry----gold, emeralds, rubies" because the dash is not a word separator, neither the term 'jewelry' nor 'gold' will be found because the search engine is seeing the word 'jewelry----gold'. Use standard spelling and punctuation. 

  4. The search engine matches partially on the ratio of the searched words to the number of words in your entry. So if you have an extremely verbose entry where the word 'diamond' appears once or twice, and the customer searches the word 'diamond', your entry will score worse than someone who has a 30-word description in which the word 'diamond' appears twice. Describe your items exactly and with only those superlatives that you think are really necessary to close a deal

  5. Although the preceding is important in getting your items presented in the search engine, in the final analysis, the choice to view or not view is made by a person who is looking at what you have in your title and description. If your product does not sound interesting and you don't have an attractive image, the customers are not going to click on your item.  So an ultimate point is one of those basics of retailing:  If your product is not attractive, and its not what they want  people won't buy it.  So spend some time on your images and make sure they are clean and attractive.   For more help with this, read the tutorial on taking good pictures and on editing images to make them look good.  Major catalogs spend a lot of  their investment in image preparation and do so because it pays them back.




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