OU Search provides a search engine for your live website for web visitors to use. Search result pages are styled to match your website, and you can control the search function through an admin panel to exclude or promote pages and results.
OU Search has a separate login and admin interface than OU Campus. OU Search features can be very extensive, with multiple configuration options. This page is not an exhaustive list of every possible configuration option; rather, it provides instructions on how to best set up and use OU Search for full functionality. OU Search can also feature an “Advanced” search option that visitors can use to narrow down their search results, though this is a separate addition to the standard implementation.
Additional documentation provided by the engine that OU Search utilizes can be accessed via two different ways. One is the Docs link in the upper right-hand corner of the top navigation bar. Additionally, each field in OU Search has a question mark beside it that you can click for an explanation of what that field controls.
Once OU Search is installed, your professional services provides you with a login URL and credentials for your search profile. All of the following setup occurs in the Settings menu. Many of the settings will never need to be modified by you for OU Search to work properly, but you have the option of fine-tuning performance.
Basic Walk Settings
A "walk" is when OU Search scans your website to build an index of pages to use as search results. If your site blocks crawlers, you most likely need to whitelist OU Search. A walk indexes the site by starting from a base URL and following every link on that page, and then following each link on those subsequent pages, and so on and so forth. However, this only includes pages in your site (e.g. www.domain.edu) and not any links pointing to external pages.
- Base URLThe address(es) from which the site search starts. Multiple URLs can be listed, one per line. Folder URLs (e.g. http://www.gallena.edu/academics/) should include a final forward slash "/".
- Excluded ExtensionsList extensions to exclude any files with those extensions from the search. For example, you may wish to exclude image files from coming up as search results. Include the leading period for each extension and separate them with a space.
- ExclusionsIf there are any pages, folders, or files you wish to exclude from the search, enter the information here. Any URL containing the string specified (be that a word or a full path) is excluded from the walk.
- Rewalk TypeOnce your site has been indexed, it is walked periodically to index any changes you've made to URLs, file structure, etc. The options for Rewalk Type are:
- "New": Completely starts from scratch and re-indexes everything using your base URL(s), as well as clearing the query logs.
- "Refresh All": Uses your existing database and only downloads modified and new pages, as well as deleting pages that no longer exist.
- "Refresh": Behaves like a "Refresh All" walk, but checks URLs on a basis of how frequently they are updated. For example, it checks for a daily modified page with each walk, but may only check for a page modified every six months on every third walk or so.
- "Singles Only": Only walks single pages, single URLs, and single files. See "Single Page" and "Page URL" in the All Walk Settings section.
- Rewalk ScheduleChoose how often automatic rewalks are performed. You can choose from every day of the week, as well as daily, hourly, every fifteen minutes, every minute, or only when a change is made to the website, and specify the hour of the day at which the rewalk is run. Multiple rewalk schedules can be made, so you could have rewalks scheduled to run at Sunday at 4 AM and Wednesday at 10 PM simultaneously.
When you have finished configuring settings or making changes, select "Update" for the changes to take effect. Select "GO" to run a walk.
All Walk Settings
The All Walk Settings are more extensive and complicated than the basic ones. While there are many, many settings available, this section explains only the ones most commonly modified by OU Search admins. All Walk Settings contains the same information as the Basic Walk Settings, as well as additional fields including the following:
- NotifySend a notification email to this address after a scheduled rewalk occurs. Use this field with the next one if you would like the current query log sent to you before doing a New walk (which clears the log data).
- Attach LogsAttach the specified information logs to the notification email. Set "Query Log" to "Y" if you would like the current query log sent to you before doing a New walk (which clears the log data).
- URL URLIf desired, specify URLs for OU Search to index by listing them all on a webpage, and then providing that single address to OU Search in the "URL URL" field. This is in addition to the basic walk that starts at the base URL.
- Single PageList individual page URLs you want to include in the database. These pages are indexed, but the links on them aren't followed.
- Page URLLike “URL URL,” this field points to a single webpage where you list the URLs you want OU Search to index. However, any URLs listed on that page are processed individually like single pages, and won't have any links on them followed.
- Ignore TagsExcluding certain page sections from OU Search results can improve accuracy, especially when some words commonly appear on a large number of pages. For example, if you have a user searching for “contact us,” and the footer on your site includes “Contact Us” information, then OU Search provides every page with that footer as a result. By using “Ignore Tags,” you can tell OU Search to ignore information contained within specified HTML tags when it is looking for results.
- Keep Tags
“Keep Tags” is the inverse of “Ignore Tags.” By using “Keep Tags,” you instruct OU Search to look only for results that occur within the specified tags.
- Index FieldsFurther specify which content is searched when a user enters a query. These fields correspond to the sections of your page that are specified in the HTML. Fields listed higher are given priority in the search results.
- Stay UnderWhen “Y” is selected, walks stay under the path specified in the base URL(s). When “N” is selected, walks may wander out of the path to other locations on the same site if a hyperlink for such a place is encountered. This is helpful if you have created a separate profile for a sub-section of the site. For example, you might create a separate profile for their course catalog. Your catalog might be in a
/catalog/folder, and you want to limit search results in this profile to the course catalog section of the site.
Once you have finished configuring settings or making changes, select "Update" for the changes to take effect. Select "Go" to run a walk.
These settings configure the actual search function itself, including what web visitors see when they are searching for content on your website.
- NotesEnter notes about your profile here. It isn't used by the walk or search, nor is it visible to web visitors.
- Query LoggingWhen query logging is turned on to "Y", OU Search records every query web visitors search for.
- Rotate ScheduleDefines when query logs are rotated. Rotating a query log sends the data, if desired, to an email address, and then clears it from the log table. If you turn this on, all existing data is lost.
- Results per Page and Links Shown"Results per Page" determines how many results are shown on at a page at a time. "Page Links Shown" determines pages in the pagination are shown at a time. ("Max User Results per Page" is set at -1 to prevent website visitors from overriding these settings.)
- Main ThesaurusSelect a thesaurus to use for the search. OU Search can utilize a thesaurus when queries are entered with a ~ (tilde) character preceding them to produce related results. To add a custom thesaurus, contact OmniUpdate support.
OU Search keeps a test version of the search page in addition to the version on the live website. Selecting “Update Test” updates the test version of the page to match any changes you've made to the search settings. The test page can be viewed by navigating to Tools > Test Search.
Note that the test search page may display differently in terms of styling, as it does not pull in the same XSL template the live page does.
Selecting “Update Live and Test” applies changes made to search settings to both the live and test versions. “Copy Live to Test” matches the test version to the live one; this can be useful if there are changes you want to revert.
OU Campus Configuration
In addition to the administrator interface for OU Search, you may have a
.pcf page, located at
/_resources/search/_ou-search-settings.pcf, that configures OU Search display options on your live site.
Edit this page in page parameters. After making changes, save and publish this page; you don't need to republish the search page. For explanations of the fields in the page, reference the recorded training from when you were delivered OU Search.
OU Search contains a number of tools to help you maximize the efficacy and accuracy of the search. This section explains the most useful, commonly-utilized tools within the system.
Use "List/Edit URLs" to see any and all URLs indexed by OU Search. Enter text in the single-line text field to pull up results containing that text. Using only an * character as a wildcard pulls up every URL indexed.
The dropdown options are “List,” “Download,” “Delete,” and “Replicate.”
- “List” displays a list of the URLs on the screen.
- “Download” downloads a
.txtfile containing all the results to your computer.
- “Delete” removes any URLs matching the query from the database; note that it does not affect the actual page in OU Campus, just the indexed location in OU Search.
- “Replicate” creates a copy of the indexed entry or entries in the database.
You can also choose the order by which results are displayed, including URL depth, alphabetical order, time last visited or modified, and size.
Selecting a URL takes you to information about that specific page. Note that this is not the only location from which you can view URLs for pages and select the URL to view page details.
Enter a URL into the field to see if there are any duplicates of it in the OU Search index. Duplicates can be removed from the index; this improves the speed and relevancy of search results.
Run test searches and see what results appear. Bear in mind that this doesn't use your site styling, but instead applies a generic format. This feature is not available in OU Search modules that were implemented after Fall 2017.
View various reports on the queries visitors have been entering in your search. It also contains the ability to export results as a CSV.
- Query ReportThe query report is a log of all queries that visitors have entered into the search. It gives the date and time of the query, the IP address from which it was entered, how many results OU Search gave for that result, and (if a result was clicked) the URL that the visitor chose.
- Top Query WordsThis lists all individual words that have been entered as queries, in order of how many times they have been entered. It does not distinguish between repeated queries, i.e. searching “college schedule” and “class schedule” would result in two counts for the word “schedule.”
- Top QueriesThis lists all queries that have been entered, in order of how many times they've been entered.
- No HitsThis lists all queries that have been entered in the search and had no results come up.
- Best Bet ClicksA best bet is a result manually set to appear as a promoted answer for a specific query or queries (the next section details how to create and manage them). The “Best Bet Clicks” report lists all best bets that have been clicked on by web visitors, including the keyword that brought up that best bet and the original query.
Though OU Search displays results in order of relevancy, you may wish to promote certain URLs for certain keywords. For example, you may want the Biology Program home page to be the first result when someone searches for “biology”. Best Bets can be styled and highlighted differently than the rest of the search results; for example, they could be displayed with a colored box around them.
Best bets are accessed via the Tools menu. Selecting this option shows a list of all best bet groups. A best bet group is the set from which OU Search pulls best bets; you will in all likelihood never need another best bet group beyond the default one.
Creating a Best Bet
To make a new best bet:
- From a best bet group, select "Manage Best Bets."
- Scroll to the bottom of the best bet list and click "Add a Best Bet."
- Fill out the fields:
- URL: The URL of the page you want to be the search result.
- Priority: Enter a number. If you have multiple best bets that match a keyword or query, the one with the highest priority (1 being the highest) is the first result.
- Title: If the result type includes title, this displays with the search result.
- Keywords: Any query containing at least one of these keywords brings up the result. Separate keywords with spaces.
- Description: If the result type includes description, this displays with the search result.
- Click "Update" to save your changes.
You can also add a Best Bet by going to the Tools menu and selecting “List/Edit URLs” or "Browse URLs by Folder." Search for the URL you want to add a best bet for, and click on the URL. The section “Best Bet Words” is where you can create a best bet.
Managing Best Bets
When viewing the list of best bets, select the pencil icon to edit a best bet, using the same fields as present when creating a new field. You can also delete a best bet by selecting the red “X”. Select “Update” for any changes to take effect.
Best Bet Settings
The item "Best Bet Match Mode" is available under Settings > Search Settings. This determines how best bets are returned as results:
- If "Show when search query is contained in Best Bet keywords" is selected, then a best bet is returned when a query in its entirety is found in the best bet's keywords. Therefore, a query of "calendar" would return a best bet with the keyword "calendar," but a query of "academic calendar" would not.
- If "Show when Best Bet keywords are contained in search query" is selected, then a best bet is returned when all best bet keywords are found in the query. Therefore, a query of "calendar" would return a best bet with the keyword of "calendar," but not a best bet with the keywords of "academic calendar."