Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
Most web browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, now feature an integrated search box. Typically these search boxes are pointed to Google or another popular search engine to make it easy to search the web. You can add options to use other search engines from this search box, including your own on-site search. Even better, you can easily add an option to allow your customers to add your on-site search to their browser’s search box.
The easiest way to do this is to use OpenSearch XML. This is a small piece of XML code that you publish and link to. The code tells the user’s web browser how to send queries to your site search. This process is invisible to your site visitors, but it makes it easy for them to add your site search to the list of search engines accessible from their browser. Once your site search is added, it’s easy for the user to search your site whenever they like – without having to go to your web site first.
You can see how this works on the site of our customer, altestore.com. Once you have conducted a search on their site, you have the option to add their site search to your list of search engines. In Firefox, this is done by clicking the arrow beside the browser search box, and selecting “Add AltE Store.” This is particularly useful for internal staff, or for your most loyal customers. It makes it easier for them to search your site, because once it is set up, they can search from any webpage. I personally use this for our own intranet search all the time.
If you’re an SLI customer, we’ll publish this XML code as part of our service. If you’d like to know more about this feature, please contact your Customer Success Manager.
Once you have published the OpenSearch XML, you need to let your customers know about its availability. For instance, you can create a page on your site describing how to add your site search to their browser, you can include the instructions in a newsletter, or you can add a blurb on an advanced search page. Let us know which methods you’ve tested, and what works best for your audience.