Rethinking Search

We're on track to complete our upgrade to CSUMB.EDU on December 19, and our work towards "rethinking the way we use the Web" will continue even after completion.

Before that, however, we've already rethought search.

Google Site Search

For the last few years, CSUMB has been using a Google Search Appliance hosted at the Cal State Chancellor's Office in Long Beach. We are required to keep up that search index for search, but it was always optional whether an individual campus used the same box.

Yesterday we purchased an account to Google Site Search, and this is now running all searches at CSUMB.EDU.


The biggest difference is in context. When you use your own search appliance, you create an index that is self-contained with no reference to the way everyone else searches on the public Internet. Thus there is no relative importance to a specific result except from within your own site. 

With Google Site Search the rankings are based on a worldwide relationship to how that result is found. 

In addition, we are able to search beyond our own domain and not worry about a fixed limit to how many pages are in an index. Now the index is as large as what Google already has collected.

We also have a more direct connection to Google Analytics than before.


We still retain the ability to "cheat" and redirect you to a result Web Services and University Communications thinks is the predominant result (e.g. president, apply) rather than give you a long list of results that might not serve your need.

But in all cases, you can still get to that long list of results.

What does this mean for your department or service point? We should review the words or phrases that you think are unique to your business as part of an overall content audit of your site.

Regardless, we see shaping results from search as the next step in rethinking how we use the Web. In user testing, we find the most clicked area on our home page isn't a link or an image; it's the search box. We need to continuously make sure its results are accurate and helpful.