Search Vocabulary – Key Matches, Facets and Query Completion?

I have a friend who is working with finance. When I hear him talk about his job it is all “boones” and “upstream”. Feeling lost? Every business has its buzzwords and the Enterprise search area is not an exception. The worst part is that the people who work with it constantly use them. In order to bring some shred of light, here comes an explanation of the some common search vocabulary:

Key Matches (sponsored links, best bets, and Editor’s pick)

These are all words for manually forcing the correct or best information to the top of the search result list. Typically this is used to follow up on the most frequently asked search terms (derived from search statistics).  If many users for example search for ‘phone numbers’ it is wise to make the first hit in the result list be a page where phone numbers are searchable.

Key matches from an editor’s perspective include a view where they can edit page title, page description, keywords (that triggers the search) and the url to the page.
And from an end user perspective:

key match

Query completion

Is a solution that shows suggestions of words when the users starts to enter characters in the search box. The most qualitative solutions are made from editor’s lists (where the searches are predefined built on pages that are of good quality). Apart from this it can be solved by using words that exists in the search index or searches that other users previously made. In these cases it is necessary to make sure that people have been clicking on search results after they have made the search, otherwise users might get suggestions of words that returns zero or bad quality results.

query completion

Auto complete

Is similar to query completion, but instead of giving suggestions it completes you query with the word you are most likely to write. The functionality is mainly used to help people spell correctly and help people specify a good search word (such as writing singular instead of plural etc)

Facets (navigators, refinements)

Are all words used to describe filters that help the users to narrow down their searches.
If a user is searching for a term such as ‘music player’ it is most likely that he/she wants to see the whole range of available products and then narrow down to music players that costs less then x, are red and are of a specific brand.

The same applies for internal information, where the users most likely want to filter on metadata such as file types: (word, pdf, and ppt), dates etc; on categories such as services or products; from taxonomy (describing how the information is organized).


Synonym service

This is just what it sounds like: functionality where abbreviations such as BBC equals British Broadcasting Corporation. A search for either of the words will then return result for both. The list used for synonyms are often derived from search statistics, making sure it corresponds to the users vocabulary.

I’m sure there other search vocabulary that we tend to use in the search industry. Please post a comment if you have suggestions or questions.

4 thoughts on “Search Vocabulary – Key Matches, Facets and Query Completion?

  1. Thanks for the post, interesting to see that there is a difference between query completion and auto complete. Perhaps “stoplist” and “thesaurus” are two other candidates that may need clarification?

  2. Hi Zedd,


    Are used to controll that certain words are not searched for in the index. Small words such as ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘but’ are thereby excluded from the search in order to deliver more accurate results. The stoplists are often expandable (which means that one is able to add words to the list).

    Contains words that has the same or similar meaning.
    A boat, for example, are group together with a number of realted words in a thesaurus such as: ark, barge, bark, bateau, bottom, bucket, canoe, catamaran, craft, dinghy, dory, gondola, hulk, ketch, launch, lifeboat, pinnace, raft, sailboat, schooner, scow, ship, skiff, sloop, steamboat, tub, yacht.
    A thesaurus has a broader meaning than synomyms. Somewhat simplified: If you know the word and want the meaning, you look up a dictionary (as synonym). If you know the meaning and want the word, you look it up a thesaurus.

  3. Pingback: Quick website diagnostics with search analytics « The Findability blog

  4. Pingback: Bridging the gap between people and technology

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *