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OU Search

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.

A screenshot of the search results on a college website.

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.

OU Campus ConfigurationLink to this section

In addition to the administrator interface for OU Search, your implementation may contain a PCF page, located at /_resources/search/_ou-search-settings.pcf, that configures OU Search display options on your live site. This feature is only available in instances of OU Search implemented on or after April 12, 2018.

A screenshot of the configuration file for OU Search, with different options to be edited.

Edit this page in page parameters. After making changes, save and publish this page; you don't need to republish the search page.

The options available under “Custom Settings” are:

  • Profile Settings
    • Search Profile: Enter the name of your search profile, used by the search appliance. This should already be set up and will only need to be changed if you are adding a new configuration page for a separate account.
  • Theme Settings
    • Theme: Choose a theme for your search page to display. Custom themes can be added at /_resources/search/themes/custom/.
    • Enable Theme Coloring: Check this box to enable the following field coloration on the live search page.
    • Theme Color: Specify the single color to be used as the theme color. Can be entered as a hex value, RGB, RGBA, HSL, or HSLA format.
    • Loading Icon: Choose a gif to display while OU Search loads results.
  • Search Settings
    • Autocomplete Length: Specify the number of characters a web visitor would have to type into the search box before the Query Autocomplete displays.
    • Advanced: Check this box if you want the advanced search options to be available for search users.
    • Branding Icon: Check this box if you want the OU Search logo to be displayed on your page.
  • Pagination Settings
    • Number Pagination: Check this box if you want the numbered pagination to display. If unchecked, the next and previous pagination text still display. To edit the number of pages shown, go to the search appliance admin settings and change Page Links Shown. If this number is set to “0,” no pagination displays.
    • Next Pagination: Enter the text for the pagination indicating the next page (e.g. “Next,” “Next Page,” “Go Forward”).
    • Previous Pagination: Enter the text for the pagination indicating the previous page (e.g. “Previous,” “Previous Page,” “Go Back”).
  • Total Results Settings
    • Total Results: Check this box to display the total number of results.
    • Total Results Text: Enter the text that displays before the number of total results. If “Total Results” is not checked, this text does not display.
    • Results Range Before Text: Enter the text that goes before the number of results displayed on the page, e.g. “Displaying:” or “Viewing results.”
    • Results Range Middle Text: Enter the text that goes in between the start and end number of the results displayed range, e.g. “to” or “-.”
    • Results Range After Text: Enter the text that goes after the number of results displayed on the page, e.g. “results.” or “pages.”

    Editing these three text fields does not affect the number range of results displayed. The number of results displayed per page is set in search appliance admin interface under Results Per Page.

  • Parametric Settings
    • Parametric Heading: Enter the heading for the section containing parametric field categories, e.g. “Refine Search” or “Tags.”
    • Parametric Mobile Button: Enter the text for the button that displays on mobile to view parametrics, e.g. “View Parametrics” or “Refine Search.” This button only displays if the web page is being rendered under a certain width. Parametric search options do not display at all if none of the results returned are tagged with any parametric fields. You should have been provided with documentation for how to set up parametric tagging upon the implementation of OU Search; if you need additional assistance, contact our support team.
  • Text Settings
    • Best Bet Heading: Enter the heading that displays before any best bet results that are returned, e.g. “Featured Results.” If no best bets are returned, this heading does not display.
    • Spell Check: Enter the text that displays before suggestions for a misspelled search query, e.g. “Did you mean.”
    • No Result Found: Enter the message that displays if no results are found. The format should be a sentence that leaves the end open for the search query, e.g. “Sorry, no results were found for.”
  • Form Settings
    • Form Placeholder: Enter the placeholder text in the search field, e.g. “Search here” or “Search site...”
    • Submit Button Text: Enter the text for the button you click to run a search, e.g. “Search for” or “Submit.”
    • Filtering By Text: If you have directory filtering set up for a search results page, enter the text that displays before the section name on the results page, e.g. “Filtering by” or “Viewing results in.”
    • Filtering By Button: If you have directory filtering set up for a search results page, enter the text that goes on the button users click to remove the filter.
  • Advanced Settings
    • Directory Filter: Limit the displayed results to indexed pages which begin with a common URL string. In this field, specify the fully qualified URL string to the directory where result pages are located. Add a trailing slash and an asterisk at the end to allow for all pages within this directory. For example, a directory filter of https://omniupdate.com/blogs/* means search queries only return pages located inside the /blogs directory.

Setting Up Your Search ProfileLink to this section

Once OU Search is installed, your professional services provides you with a login URL and credentials for your search profile. The first time you log in, you’ll need to click on the Profiles tab and select your school’s profile from the list provided. After the profile has been selected, all setup happens 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 URL
    The 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 "/".
  • Robots
    Tells the search appliance whether it should respect the robots.txt file or any meta robots tags within a page. The robots.txt file must be located at the root of a Base URL(s) item.
  • Excluded Extensions
    List 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.
  • Exclusions
    If 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 Type
    Once 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.
    It's recommended to use Refresh or Refresh All unless you've done significant information architecture changes and need to immediately re-crawl every page on the site. Once you've done a New crawl, you can set this back to Refresh or Refresh All.
  • Rewalk Schedule
    Choose 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. You will not see the impact of settings changes on your search results page until a walk has been completed.

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:

  • Notify
    Send 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 Logs
    Attach 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 URL
    If 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 Page
    List individual page URLs you want to include in the database. These pages are indexed, but the links on them aren't followed.
  • Page URL
    Like “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 Tags
    Excluding 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.

  • Data from Field

    Set Regular Expression rules which allow OU Search to identify webpages which belong to specific Parametric Filtering categories.

  • Index Fields
    Further 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.
  • Prevent Duplicates
    Allows OU Search to identify pages with duplicate content to prevents those duplicates from appearing in a search results list. For example, www.domain.edu/ and www.domain.edu/index.html would be flagged as duplicates.
  • Duplicate Check Fields
    Identifies the fields OU Search compares when identifying duplicate pages.
  • Index Name
    Identifies the filename that would be added to the trailing slash of a section URL. These filenames are stripped from URLs within the index to prevent duplicates from being walked.
  • Stay Under
    When “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.

Search Settings

These settings configure the actual search function itself, including what web visitors see when they are searching for content on your website.

  • Notes
    Enter notes about your profile here. It isn't used by the walk or search, nor is it visible to web visitors.
  • Query Logging
    When query logging is turned on to "Y", OU Search records every query web visitors search for.
  • Rotate Schedule and Email
    Defines 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.
  • Abstract Style

    Defines what content is included in the abstract for search results. The options for Abstract Style are:

    • Query: Displays a portion of the page’s body content which included the queried word(s).
    • Beginning: Displays the beginning of the page’s body content, regardless of whether the queried word(s) appear in this content.
    • Top: Displays the top of the page’s content including the header, regardless of whether the queried word(s) appear in this content.
    • Description: Displays the page’s meta description, regardless of whether the queried word(s) appear in this content.
  • Abstract Length, Max Title Length, and Max URL Length

    Maximum length, in characters, that displays on the search results page for the abstract, title, and URL respectively. Content that surpasses this maximum length are cut off and appended with an ellipsis (…).

  • 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.)
  • Parametric Search Options
    Specifies how parametric field categories should be handled. To display properly, categories should have all three checkboxes checked (Searchable, Sortable, and Output).
  • Group By
    Specifies how parametric field values should be displayed on the live search page. Set to Count Descending by default, this lists the value with the most page matches first and give a descending list from there.
  • Query Autocomplete and Max Completions
    If Query Autocomplete is set to Y, this causes the live search page to suggest matches between the characters typed by the web visitor and words contained in the index. Max Completions specifies the maximum number of autocomplete suggestions which are displayed on the live search page. Less suggestions appear if the queried word(s) appear in fewer pages in the index.
  • Results Highlighting

    Controls how queried words are highlighted in the abstract on the live search page. The options for Results Highlighting are:

    • Inline: Queried words in the title or abstract are bolded and displayed with a brightly colored background. Each queried word, up to ten, receives a unique background color before the coloration repeats.
    • Bold: Queried words in the title or abstract are bolded.
    • Classes: Each queried word in the title or abstract is wrapped in a span with the class of query and individual queried words also have the class of queryset1 through queryset10 for custom CSS to target.
    • None: Queried words in the title or abstract do not have any special styling.
  • Best Bet Match Mode

    Determines how best bet keywords are matched to search queries. The options for Best Bet Match Mode are:

    • Show when search query is contained in Best Bet keywords: The entire search query must be contained within the best bet keywords in order for a best bet to appear on the live search page. For example, a best bet with the keywords academic calendar would match the search queries of academic, calendar, or academic calendar. However, a query of school academic calendar would not match because the query had more text than what was contained in the keywords.
    • Show when Best Bet keywords are contained in search query: The entire best bet keywords text must be contained within the search query. For example, a best bet with the keyword financial would match the search queries of financial aid and financial assistance. However, a best bet with the keywords of financial aid would not match financial assistance because the keywords text was not completely contained in the search query. When this option is chosen, it’s best to set up a separate best bet with a single keyword for URLs which should be returned for multiple keywords.
  • Enable Spell Check and Number of Suggestions

    Enable Spell Check, when “Y” is selected, prompts the web visitor with possible index matches when the original search query yielded no results. Number of Suggestions specifies how many prompts should be provided.

  • Synonyms

    Defines how phrases and synonyms should be handled by OU Search. The options for Synonyms are:

    • Disabled: Built-in phrases and synonyms are not returned. A web visitor can still use the quotation marks around a query to treat multiple words as a single phrase.
    • Phrase recognition only: Built-in phrases are treated as a singular query. For example, searching for post office is treated as a single query and does not act as a query for post and a query for office.
    • Phrases & Allow synonyms: Built-in phrases are treated as a singular query and the web visitor has the option to include synonyms for specific words in the query. To identify which words should return synonyms as well, the web visitor must type a tilde (~) before that word.
    • Phrases & Use synonyms by default: Built-in phrases are treated as a singular query and synonyms are returned by default. For example, a query for library returns results with the word book.
  • Main Thesaurus
    Select 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.
  • Word Forms

    Defines how different word forms of a queried word are handled by OU Search. The options for Word Forms are:

    • Exact Match: Only exact matches to the queried word form are returned.
    • Plurals & possessives: Plural or possessive forms of the queried word are also returned.
    • Any word forms: Any form of the queried word are returned.
    • Custom: Allows administrators to define the list of suffixes that are returned.
  • Word Ordering, Word Proximity, Database Frequency, Document Frequency, Position in Text, and Depth in Site

    These settings control how the search algorithm ranks pages returned during a search query.

    • Word Ordering: Determines ranking in multi-word queries. Gives higher ranking to pages where the queried words appear in the same order as in the query.
    • Word Proximity: Determines ranking in multi-word queries. Gives higher ranking to pages where the queried words appear closer together in the body content.
    • Database Frequency: Determines ranking in multi-word queries. Gives higher ranking to pages which contain the queried word that appears least frequently in the database.
    • Document Frequency: Determines ranking in single- or multi-word queries. Gives higher ranking to pages which contain more instances of the queried word(s).
    • Position in Text: Determines ranking in single- or multi-word queries. Gives higher ranking to pages where the queried word(s) appear closer to the top of the page.
    • Depth in Site: Determines ranking in single- or multi-word queries. Gives higher ranking to pages which are located closer to the root of the site.
  • Date Bias

    Adds a negative bias to older pages.

  • Rank Bias

    Adds a positive or negative bias to pages/files based upon a regular expression rule. For example, Rank Bias could be set up to give a negative bias to PDF files so a search query would display HTML pages higher on the list than PDF files.

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. Note: Newer implementations circumvent this Test Search page to increase search results speed on the live search page.

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.

ToolsLink to this section

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.

List/Edit URLs

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 .txt file 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.

Browse URLs by Folder

This tool displays any and all URLs included in the current index in a folder structure format. The Items column notes how many individual pages/files are contained within that folder. Selecting a URL takes you to information about that specific page.

List Duplicates

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.

Test Search

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.

Test Fetch

Enter a URL into the field to test whether that URL would be included in the index. This is a troubleshooting tool which returns information about the page, including the Response code for the URL, and a Text output of content that would be included as the page’s body content if it were added to the OU Search index. Running a test fetch on a URL does not actually add a page into the index.

Query Log

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 Report
    The 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 Words
    This 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 Queries
    This lists all queries that have been entered, in order of how many times they've been entered.
  • No Hits
    This lists all queries that have been entered in the search and had no results come up.
  • Best Bet Clicks
    A 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.

Best BetsLink to this section

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:

  1. From a best bet group, select "Manage Best Bets."
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the best bet list and click "Add a Best Bet."
  3. 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 is the first result. The larger the number, the higher the priority.
    • 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.
  4. 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. See the Search Settings section for more details about this setting.