What Does an OSC Search Relevancy Tuneup Look Like?

So you’ve stood up Solr or Elasticsearch. Your search app is humming along. However, how do you know your search understands what your users are asking for? Users are notorious for ignoring everything on your page other than the search bar. They go straight to the search bar and tell you what they want. With just as much speed, they give up and leave when they can’t find what they want.

Understanding what users want is the problem of search relevancy. This is where we come in. We’ve written the book on the topic. Many clients with search well in hand simply need a leg up in the relevancy front. For these clients we offer quarterly relevance tuneups on their search.

What do these tuneups look like? What will you get from participating in one?

Well every tuneup varies a little, depending on your needs and requirements. But I want to lay out the general lay of the land.

Go / No Go Assessment

On your very first tuneup, we meet to make sure this model can be succesful for you. Most importantly, we determine whether a Q Score – a numerical measurement of whether users are satisfied with search – can be applied to your search. We evaluate whether our tuning tool, Quepid, built to measure your Q Score, is appropriate to your problems. We determine whether there’s a safe relevancy test environment that can be used for experimentation. Perhaps most importantly, we help coach the business and content owners – engaging them to be involved in the process from day one.

Once we’ve pinned down how and whether this can be measured, we move to the next discussion: targeted problems to solve with immediate return on investment. You’ll help us select which problems to tackle during the tuneup. We choose carefully, selecting what can be done during the two week tuneup. However, you’d be surprised what can be done in 80 hours of tuning work!


Using the Q Score established in this assessment, our consultants get to work! With the Q Score the tuneup team can begin pushing the dial towards better search results. With Quepid they measurably push the ball forward and never backwards. You see precisely which queries are improving and where trouble spots arise. Armed with the power of Quepid, our team iterates on new ideas and solutions in Solr or Elasticsearch. Over two weeks of time we make a measurable and significant improvement to your search quality.

The tuneup phase remains highly collaborative. The technical consultant works most efficiiently paired with business or domain expertise. As problems crop up non-technical representatives of the user or business provide immediate guidance to the direction of search tuning. This might mean working closely with your merchandisers, marketing department, user experience team, content curators, or other domain experts.

Many clients don’t yet engage their business in how search should work. For these clients we help by bringing in our own content strategists to focus the team, coach them on evaluating content, and help them understand how users want to interact with content.

At the conclusion of the tuneup you’re left with a set of specific, targeted Solr and Elasticsearch modifications to run with. You implement the strategies and roll them into your application.

##InterregnumAfter the tuneup, our team writes a brief set of recommendations for activities to complete before the next tuneup. These activities entail anything that would be an invaluable asset during the next tuneup. For example, they might include recommendations for:

Tracking user metrics in your search application. Determine where users are satisfied and dissatisfied in productionSpecific larger projects to build search related assets. Should specific synonyms be curated? A taxonomy/ontology be built? Should an explicit strategy around recommendations are user experience be explored in greater depth?Specific content curation steps. Would certain improvements to content be useful for improving your relevance? Are there ways new forms of content can be more cleanly entered into the search engine? How can existing content be cleaned up?Steps to engage the broader business in search. Is search seen as a pure heads down technical problem the business doesn’t interact with? If so, we would recommend eSteps to improve the technical teams skill with search. Is specific training warranted?

The aim is to “give you homework.” Some of these projects however could be part of additional consulting help we engage with. Regardless, we wish you well and schedule your tuneup for the next quarter!

Schedule your tuneup today!

So if you’re curious about this (or any other) consulting offering, please be sure to get in touch and we’ll happily discuss options with you!