Simon Willison’s Weblog


Why is site search so bad on most websites?

3rd May 2013

My answer to Why is site search so bad on most websites? on Quora

It’s not so much that site search is bad, it’s that your expectations have been raised enormously high by the incredible quality of search provided by search engines like Google.

Google has something of an unfair advantage: they have a vast team of experienced search engineers, a corpus of pretty much the entire Web, and 15 years worth of examples of the kinds of things people type in to a search box. A lot of their search quality is driven by sheer numbers—they know over 590 ways to spell Britney Spears, and their spelling correction and autocomplete implementations are outstanding due to the depth of their data.