Have you tried searching the external York Web site and found that the search results were confusing or inadequate? Feedback from visitors, prospective and current students, staff and faculty indicates that others have had similar unsatisfactory experiences. In a world accustomed to using the search function when visiting Web sites from blogs to e-commerce sites, it is important that York University improves a user’s navigation experience of its Web site, which is composed of more than 500,000 pages. To that end, University Information Technology (UIT), the Office of Admissions and the Marketing & Communications Division are working to create a solution that includes replacing the external search and internal search functions with the latest Google Search Appliance. Both will now search the entire yorku.ca domain.
The new search function will allow administrators to prioritize uniform resource locators (URLs) and return a specific URL as identified by predetermined keywords. The keyword-to-URL searches will enable the University to direct visitors to sites it wants highlighted at the top of the search result page, for example, the Web pages across the top horizontal navigation: Alumni, Research, Giving to YorkU, Media, Careers and International. Initially, the priorities will be determined by discussion with major stakeholder groups within the University. Ongoing, the priorities will be evaluated and updated by a steering committee. These keyword-to-URL matches will be used only as necessary; as emphasis will be placed on optimizing Web pages to be returned within Google’s own search criteria.
The new search function will also offer Google’s "advanced search option" to refine the search even further. Any visitor (professor, student and donor) can further personalize the subject of their search and, therefore, achieve a targeted return.
Using the Google Search Appliance, pages that are “search optimized” will be returned higher in search results. Units should review their Web content to ensure that each page contains appropriate keywords, titles and headings to facilitate rich search returns and take care to appropriately tag images and dynamic content (where possible) to increase the ability of screen readers and other accessibility tools to enable visitors with physical challenges to navigate York’s Web site.
The plan is to launch the new Google Search Appliance in time for the start of classes this fall. Over time, and with input/cooperation by all units, it will provide fast, relevant search returns to all of our Web site users.
For more information, contact the UIT Helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org.