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Archive for the 'search' Category

Bot and Robot filtering on Google Analytics

Digital Presence5 August 2014

Please read the link (below) from Google Analytics for the explanation.

WAMS has decided to apply the filtering as mentioned in the link above – this may result in a lower number of visitors to your sites because
the bots and spider visits are no longer part of the total number of visitors.

If you have set up your own Google Analytics account, we recommend you tick the box as well to apply filtering.

And remember, when you do so, you may want to inform others in your team who are looking at GA so they understand why the visitors’ number is dropping.

Any questions, please email web-support@ucl.ac.uk

WebNet05 – June 17th 2014

Digital Presence17 June 2014

Today, the 5th WebNet meeting was held in the Christopher Inglold XLG LT between 2pm and 3.30pm.
Relevant presentations are available on the WAMS webpage

The next WebNet meeting will be held in the Autumn term.

WebNet June 17th 2 – 4pm

Digital Presence5 June 2014

Christopher Ingold XLG1 Chemistry LT

WAMS will present the soon-to-go-live new Search feature on the UCL website and all sites using the Corporate Identity template!

Please register on the WAMS webpage.

Where am I?

NickDawe22 May 2009

There’s been a surprising amount of press coverage over the latest development in search technology – the WolframAlpha ‘computational technology engine’. It’s quite unlike other search engines in that it doesn’t just search for results on a page based on your query; instead it computes a variety of different results that it can make out of your query.

Wolfram computing interface screenshot

For instance, if you wanted to compare some of the main statistics of London universities, you’d have to spend a long time with Google trying to search through each institution’s website. However, if we search ‘Imperial College, University College London, Kings College London’ in WolframAlpha, we get a fast comparison between the establishments.

WolframAlpha university comparison

The engine can obviously provide a range of mathematically based calculations based on a query, but what we’ve found impressive is its novel ways of dealing with some basic queries. For instance, if we enter a website address like ‘ucl.ac.uk’, we don’t just receive the name of it and a link to take us there; instead we get its registered host information, web stats, and even, fascinatingly, an ‘HTML element hierarchy’:

Anyway, it seems like the engine has a huge range of features to explore and discover. It’s obviously only in its early days, but we’d be particularly interested in how this might assist any academic related web development.

To try it out…

Google Search Appliance at UCL (part 2)

NickDawe9 December 2008

November 17th has now passed, and so we’ve begun migrating new search boxes on to the UCL site. These new searches work with our  Google Search Appliances, and allow us to customise and refine UCL search results.

One advantage of using the GSAs, which we didn’t mention in the previous post, is that they can give us far more information about how visitors use our search boxes. For instance, we were surprised to find these terms being the most popular search queries after we first began to migrate the new search boxes:

1. squirrelmail
2. moodle
3. library
4. squirrel mail
5. email
6. portico
7. term dates
8. webmail
9. myview
10. webct

Where were department names, news items, or members of staff? Generally, these were far lower in the list. It seems that the majority of searches at UCL were queries relating to specific IT services – particularly email. More amusingly, the top 100 queries also featured ‘squirel mail’, ‘squirell mail’, ‘squirelmail’ and a good number of other misspellings of the webmail system. Still more people are searching for these terms than almost anything else in the university, and assuming they’ve spelt ‘squirrel’ wrong, they’re not going to receive helpful results.

UCL Search screenshot

Thankfully however, the GSA allows us to add key matches to such queries (a bit like the sponsored links on the main Google searches), or simply arrange results listings to give more useful information for these quirks. There’s still lots to learn about how best to arrange the search engine results, and with users searching for over 50,000 unique queries in the last week alone, this could be a massive job. But if it helps users consistently get the information in as efficient a time as possible, it could be a genuinely useful tool for many in UCL.

Google Search Appliance at UCL

NickDawe22 October 2008

In the last few weeks Web Services and Information Systems have been busy setting up two new Google Search Appliances (GSA) to be used throughout the UCL website. A GSA is a server that uses Google’s search technology, but is under UCL’s control: we can refine search results to better suit our own requirements.

Google Search Appliance homepage screenshot

For some UCL sites, the new GSAs could help immensely. For instance, when a user currently searches for e.g. ‘Silva’, they’ll have to trawl through a number of other listings to find anything about the Silva Content Management System. Because the Web Services Silva pages don’t have such a high Google ranking score (as eg. they may not have been linked to from external pages), they’ll appear lower in the listings. And sadly, this problem occurs with many other Google search terms: in many cases, the pages that users are searching for are simply not those at the top of the result listings (or anywhere near, in some cases).

So when GSA is implemented here, UCL will be able to take full control: We can refine results according to certain search queries; and we can add extra promotion for departmental homepages and key documents. Ultimately, we’ll be able to ensure that sensible results will always occur (and if they don’t at first, at least we can amend the system so that they eventually do!).

GSA also allows us to:

  • search not only the public content of UCL domains,  but also (using authentication) search restricted content.
  • search other areas like document management systems and collaboration tools (although these will be introduced progressively)

From November 17th, we’ll begin migrating search boxes on UCL web pages from the general Google search to the new GSA.