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WebSideStory updates Search service

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WebSideStory has upgraded its Search application service, enabling it to handle 10 times more indexed pages. It also automates feeds to shopping search engines and Google’s increasingly important Sitemap page-indexing function. Search 4.0 starts at $40,000 per year.

But the real meat in Search 4.0, is a pair of optional $15,000-per-year features designed to help customers shop and navigate a site based on “the wisdom of the crowd,” said Erik Bratt, director of communications for WebSideStory; that is, to use site analytics to make internal searches more relevant.

The company says Search 4.0 can do this by skewing search results based on a number of common content-popularity metrics.

Rather than relying strictly on search algorithms that weight results by keyword relevancy, Bratt said, Search 4.0 can, for example, sort based on a page’s conversion rate. Exactly how searches are skewed is determined by WebSideStory’s customer. Other factors include conversion value, most requested pages, raw page-visit totals and entry pages.

If a potential buyer shows up at the e-commerce site using Search 4.0 and searches internally for widgets, she might see results dominated by black widgets because conversion rates are best on those product pages. Other widgets also would be listed, but further down in the results.

WebSideStory maintains that buyers are likely to have a more rewarding and fluid experience if presented with search results that statistics indicate are more popular.

Sellers can loosely guide buyers to the all-important “yes” by showing them items about which they have only vague intentions. The analytics-backed search and guided navigation options require a $15,000 annual subscription to WebSideStory’s HBX Analytics. Customers only need HBX if they want to take advantage of Active Ranking, which automatically drives the site search results based on the Web site behavioral data from HBX.

Search 4.0 boasts three new standard features:

Subscribers can automate the process of alerting Google Sitemap of an update to their site. Each alert tells Google spiders there is something new to index. Virtually all sites today wait for Google spiders to arrive. That means a competitor can show up higher in the search results if its site has been indexed before another company’s.

Likewise, Search 4.0 will automatically submit new or changed items to shopping search engines. The application service also will search 10 times more internal indexed pages, handling “millions” of pages, according to WebSideStory.

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