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BeerAdvocate Search now uses Google CSE

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Todd, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    One of the biggest complaints we've received over the years is searching on BA, which can be cumbersome and unforgiving. Our homegrown search is basically dated; multiple searches/results, no spelling/auto-correction, troubles with short words, numbers, special/foreign characters, hard to find other members, etc.

    It doesn't help anyone if our users can't easily find what they're looking for.

    So to make things easy, we're now using Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) for the site's main search tool. This allows us to:
    • Provide a consistent search experience across the site.
    • Utilize Google's spell checker, word suggestions and auto-correction.
    • Show all matches for the entire site on a single results page.
    • Filter results: All, Forum, Beer, Place, Event, Member.
    • Save tens of millions of database queries per year; we're not hurting resource-wise, but this is an added bonus.

    Why Google?
    • Previously, if a search failed it would try finding the query using a custom Google search. In the past year there's been at least 500,000 failed searches.
    • A huge percentage of our site traffic is a result of people finding our content via Google; and the failed searches mentioned above. As a result, we can assume that many, if not most, of our users are comfortable using Google search.
    • Google indexes our site all day long and new entries very quickly.
    Why not offer the old main search too?
    • See all of the above.
    Google CSE Notes:
    • Autocomplete currently only works on the main search results page and is prefix based.
    • Paginated pages, and other views, are not included in results for Beers and Places to reduce clutter.
    • Displaying thumbnail images in results is currently enabled.
    • Advanced Places searching remains intact.
    • Advanced Community/Forum searching remains intact.
    • We're currently using the free version, so Google ads will appear in the results.
    While using Google CSE might not be the most ideal solution, it's certainly a solid one until it's addressed during the site redesign. We'll also be monitoring Google CSE usage and making adjustments as needed.

    In the meantime, check it out and feel free to drop us your constructive feedback.

  2. mborden

    mborden Savant (440) New York Jan 28, 2009

    Sweet. About 90% of the time when I search for a beer on BA, I actually go to Google and then add "beer advocate" to the search and then click on the link to get back to BA. Now I don't have to do that. Awesomesauce!
  3. I was wondering why the search results were blank today. I needed to unblock Google AJAX Search API for this site.
  4. Dave, you could please educate a user of IE 10 for Windows 7 how to perform this unblock operation?

    Thanks in advance for you help in this matter.


  5. blindpiggie

    blindpiggie Savant (460) Colorado Jan 27, 2012 Beer Trader

    Is there a way to search for results within a single thread?
    Dontcounttoday and tacosandbeer like this.
  6. This feature is horrific. The old search format was nothing short of fantastic.
  7. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

  8. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Thanks for the constructive feedback. We realize that everyone isn't going to like every change.
  9. could please educate a user of IE 10 for Windows 7 how to perform this unblock operation?

  10. good stuff. I actually had been using google more often than not bc of search problems

    Something like ... "beeradvocate (beer name)"
  11. There's no way to be constructive about it. It's a downgrade aesthetically, doesn't show as many results per page, requires us to go offsite in a sense (javascript floating, at least), and requires more motion post-search. I understand that failed searches were what you were trying to do away with, but can the "fail" point be completely identified? I've never had a failed search and probably search twenty times a day.
  12. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    You just were (now). Thanks.
  13. Eh, I just feel like negativity isn't exactly constructive. I ran at least ten searches in the past twenty minutes before finding this thread and constantly thought "the hell is going on" and "when will this get fixed." Then I realized it was intentional...
  14. A HUGE +1 to what RobertColianni posted!!

    For a long while I thought I was getting blocked or something but I just didn’t understand the ‘format’ of the new search feature.

    The old search function is way better than this new function which “requires more motion post-search.”

    I have never experienced issues using the old search function. I didn’t experience failed searches as long as I spelled correctly which is a small price to pay for a search function which worked well.

  15. The exact same experience I had.:(

    RobertColianni likes this.
  16. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    It's a known AJAX issue with IE 10 regarding compatibility. I've added a non-standard fix. Reload the search page and let me know if it's working now.
  17. vonnegut21

    vonnegut21 Advocate (610) New York Apr 27, 2012 Beer Trader

    Is it possible to shortcut this or default to this feature when I'm already in a specific forum? If I've clicked through to ISO:FT, and then choose "search" it's 99% likely it's because I want to search the ISO:FT forum.
    MEW and Dontcounttoday like this.
  18. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    When you're in the Forums, simply click on "Search Forums" in the sub nav. It won't default to the forum you're in though.
    tacosandbeer likes this.
  19. tronto

    tronto Savant (270) Kentucky Dec 22, 2010 Beer Trader

    this hinders more than it helps...example. If I wanted to see the latest mexican cake trades i could just go to ISO:FT and type mexican cake and only the trades with mexican cake would come up. Now you have to search within the whole site everytime mexican cake has been mentioned for what youre looking for.
  20. tronto

    tronto Savant (270) Kentucky Dec 22, 2010 Beer Trader

    I see you go to search forums now instead of just going to the thread you want to search....
  21. Todd, thanks for your reply.

    I don’t think I am experiencing any browser issues I think that I am experiencing human issues.

    As I posted above I just did not understand the new search function. Just like Robert Colianni, I thought there was something broken. From a user perspective I still think that something is ‘broken’. I recognize that change can be an adjustment for users (including me) but I really thought the old search function was better in that I was able to select filters pre-search, etc. IMHO, the old search function was a better function but I will be a dutiful BA member and do my best with this ‘upgrade’.

    I fully understand that you, Jason and others often have a thankless job but permit me to say “Thank You” for all that you do.


    HattedClassic likes this.

    RBCORCORAN Savant (450) Massachusetts May 18, 2009 Beer Trader

    I just fired up I.E. and did 1/2 dozen random searches and it's working fine on my end.
  23. stupac2

    stupac2 Advocate (595) California Feb 22, 2011 Beer Trader

    I'm probably unusual, but 95% of my searches are trying to find user profiles. Previously when you searched a string of text that matched usernames, those names would populate the sidebar and you could go right to their profile. (I believe this worked from anywhere but I know for sure it worked from the forums.) It seems that this no longer happens, and you have to either scan for the person's profile page in the results (sometimes it's the first result, but sometimes it's not) or click on their reviews and then click again to get to their profile.

    It's not the biggest deal, but I definitely liked that older feature and used it with some frequency.
    brees6221 likes this.
  24. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Correct, and we'll look at ways we can improve the main search and "Search Forums" link for forum users. Our first goal was to think about the entire site and all users. Now we can begin tweaking based on feedback; where we can.
    tronto likes this.
  25. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Which is now easier. Simply type in the member name in the main search (anywhere on the site now vs. just the forums) and click the "Members" tab in the search results to get even more specific.
    kmattrick likes this.
  26. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Depends on how it's presented. Your first post was just reactionary and negative; useless to us. Your second post offered more thought; perhaps something we could use.
    rainfairy and jRocco2021 like this.
  27. The thing is, before if I were in the beer section I could run dozens of searches in succession, move back to a base page, and repeat the process. Now, I have to search, change search function, find my result, go back three pages, and begin again. It's not possible to just fire-off from where you are and stay on topic. It's like having to re-explain the topic to a crowd before speaking your next sentence instead of just know that everyone is still talking about the same thing. More process means less functionality to me. When I'm in the forums, I typically search topics. When I'm in the beers, I search beers. If I want to change that up beforehand, I could. I just don't agree with this as an upgrade, especially if the main case and point are failed searches (which haven't occurred for me in five years).
  28. Do you mind giving us an overall figure of how many searches are typically run on this site per year versus the number of failed searches per year?
  29. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Sure. Over 11 million unique searches in the last year, but failed searches alone was not a deciding factor for this change; which I believe were higher than reported as other negative/unexpected searches were not tracked.
    RobertColianni likes this.
  30. stupac2

    stupac2 Advocate (595) California Feb 22, 2011 Beer Trader

    I didn't see the tabs before, thanks. Although it's still more clicks than before I guess that's not a big deal.
  31. I certainly have had failed searches. Under the old search, it was useless to search for "Indeed" (which is the name of a local brewery). That is fixed.

    I would like to see some more refinement in the area of synonyms -- right now, there are 790 beers that match "gueuze" and only 339 that match "geuze", and it looks like the 339 are a proper subset of the 790.
  32. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Agreed. I'm actually working on a synonyms list, plus other refinements.
  33. +1,000

    Is there a way just to limit the search to the ISO forum? If I want to set up a potential trade - say for some Mexican Cake - all I had to do before was go to the ISO:FT forum, type in "Mexican Cake", and the site would return all trade requests with Mexican Cake included. I do the same thing now, and I get "Mexican Cake" results for the entire site - only a fraction of which are ISO posts. This change alone will seriously hamper my trading efforts.

  34. Doesn't this work?
  35. That works if you then click on sort by date instead of relevance. Otherwise, that's putting emphasis on returning ISO posts with Mexican Cake in the title and not in the body (i.e. ISO List postings).

    I don't want to be a naysayer - and I really appreciate the effort - but it would be really helpful to somehow institute a "search of current forum" capability at some point.

  36. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,685) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    Yes. You can use the advanced forum search that's already been mentioned in this thread; and again, we'll be looking at tweaking things for forum users too.
  37. karengarys

    karengarys Savant (335) Indiana May 30, 2003

    One function I miss - I would look up a brewery with a single brew name unique to that brewery. Then, click the brewery. It would provide a heading for the brewery, and then a very compact list of their offerings, along with ratings and some statistics, such as number of reviews. Plus a cool blue check mark indicating I've reviewed the offering. This was my favorite part of the site, and it did set my standard on what I would like an enthusiast site to offer.

    I will continue to try various methods assuming I am just missing something, but thus far I'm not getting the "BeerAdvocate" cut of the data, I'm getting the generic dump a google search provides.
    ThomasAWilson2 and brees6221 like this.
  38. karengarys

    karengarys Savant (335) Indiana May 30, 2003

    I was missing something. The google search list does in fact provide the great BA listing - all you need to do is drill in with a simple click!

    Sorry for clogging this up with needless posts, for those in my shoes, just do some more clicking and there it is!
  39. douginromeo

    douginromeo Savant (395) Michigan Apr 1, 2013 Beer Trader

    I don't like it, but I'm not used to it. I'll let you know in about a month.
    Cascade77 likes this.
  40. Boonedog

    Boonedog Savant (250) Illinois Apr 10, 2013

    So in the homebrewing forum I did a search for "Octoberfest" and got hits for trips to Germany.

    RobertColianni likes this.