Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Supporting a web site is hard work. I should know, I support sixteen of them, plus two intranets at my day job. If you do everything properly, you (or your staff) have to design the site, prototype it, code it, maintain it, promote it and do any of a hundred other things. There are a bazillion details to take care of, from the color of the text, the size of the characters and, of course, the site navigation.
Coming up with a good navigation scheme can be very hard. The larger the site, the more difficult the task. Having a site with lots of pages and a good mixture of material makes it even more difficult. How do you get your visitors to the information they want without lots of confusing labels, pictures and links?
Virtually every site will have some top-level links on their primary entry page. Most webmasters have learned to duplicate those links on most or all other pages on their sites so people can get from anywhere on the site to anywhere else.
The problem is that this only gives your visitors a few options. If they don't see what they like, they may look at a page or two, become frustrated and leave. This has happened to me many, many times. I'll visit a site and if I don't see what I want I'll go somewhere else fast.
Unless, of course, I find some way to search for what I need.
You see, adding search capabilities to your site suddenly gives you an incredibly flexibly, user-definable navigation scheme. Unless your site is very small, it would be extremely difficult for you to provide a navigation scheme which gets your visitors to anything they might need. Site specific search engines provide this capability.
Here are some utilities which you can install on your web site which will add searching capability for your visitors. These are useful for the majority of webmasters which do not run their own servers. In these instances, a remote utility of some kind is essential as few (if any) hosts will allow you to modify their servers as needed.
You want to add a search engine to your site to allow visitors to search your site? Atomz has an incredible number of features. You can spider up to 500 pages for free - the only cost to you being a few advertisements in your results page. Recommended.
(http://intra.whatuseek.com/index.shtml) An excellent service, providing spidering of up to 1,000 pages for free. Not quite as many options as Atomz, but still quick, efficient and very configurable. Highly recommended.
A personalized search engine which allows web searches or searches of just your site. Allows you to change the colors and logo on the results page.
(http://www.freefind.com/indexc.html) Very nice search utility. You get to index your site plus a handy set of other features including site maps, content monitoring (similar to Netmind), customization and a what's new report. Excellent service. The free version gives you 25mb of indexing (the size of your pages), and you can pay for more.
(http://siteminer.mycomputer.com/) Siteminer gives you the capability to add a search engine to your site specially for your own site. Note: This is not free, but included as it is a useful service.
About the Author
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at (http://www.internet-tips.net) - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.