This course is aimed at communications and marketing professionals and takes you through the features available in the Funnelback search interface and the reporting and tools provided by the Funnelback marketing dashboard.

Each section contains:

  • A summary: A brief overview of what you will accomplish and learn throughout the exercise.

  • Exercise requirements: A list of requirements, such as files, that are needed to complete the exercise.

  • Detailed step-by-step instructions: detailed step-by-step instructions to guide you through completing the exercise.

  • Some extended exercises are also provided. These exercises can be attempted if the standard exercises are completed early, or as some review exercises that can be attempted in your own time.

Special tool tips or hints will appear throughout the exercises as well, which will provide extra knowledge or tips for completing the exercise. They will look like:

This box will appear if there is further reading available.
Tip or hint will appear in a box like this for you, which will give you more information about a certain topic covered.
This box will appear if there is something very important that you must be aware of within Funnelback.

What this workshop will cover:

  • Introduction to search and Funnelback

  • The search results page

  • Overview of the marketing dashboard

  • Understanding your search

  • Enhancing and optimising your search

1.1. How does search work?

A search engine’s job is to compile a unified index of content which can come from many sources.

This index is similar to the index at the back of a book - it provides a way of quickly finding the information that is relevant to a series of keywords provided to it when a user runs a search.

1.1.1. How does the index get built?

In order to create the index a search engine like Funnelback has to first scan through all the content that needs to be indexed. The process of gathering this content will depend on the type of content being indexed - for web content a tool called a web crawler is used.

A web crawler gathers content by loading a start page (or set of start pages) and following all the links that it finds. Each link is downloaded and the process repeated until all the content is gathered. Rules about what links can be followed are set when configuring the search (a rule might be something like only gather pages from

This means that a page must be linked in order for it to be discovered by a search engine.

Other types might just supply a list of items to gather and index.

A copy of each item is stored as they are discovered. Once all the content is gathered the search engine analyses all the content to build the index. A lot of information about each item is recorded, from counts of each keyword in a document to the number of items that link to the document. This information all forms part of the index and is used to evaluate how relevant an item might be when a search is run.

1.1.2. What happens when a search is run?

Modern search engines have to be able to return results that a relevant to the end user very quickly, often with very little information from the user making the search.

The first thing a search engine does it to take the words entered by the user and simplify them - this includes removing punctuation and words such as and, or, or of.

It will then take this shorter list of words and find pages that match each of the words, compiling these into a list of search results.

The order of the search results is determined by many factors and these will vary from search engine to search engine, and Funnelback allows you to change things that are important in determining how relevant something is.

Some examples of things considered include:

  • How many times each word appears in the content of an item

  • How many times the item is linked to by other items

  • Do the word(s) appear in the item’s title?

  • When was the item last modified?

1.2. What is Funnelback?

Funnelback is a search platform that not only produces search results, but also includes a suite of tools that can be used to transform, audit and analyse site content.

As a search engine Funnelback’s role is similar to other search engines - to find relevant documents based on very basic keywords. These keywords are matched against the text inside all of the documents that it finds and retrieves.

Funnelback excels at searching unstructured content with simple keywords. This differs from a database SQL search that operates on a very structured (or fielded) repository and uses complex queries to provide very specific matches within the data.

The Funnelback platform also provides a number of other tools to assist you in understanding and auditing your content such as:

  • Content auditor

  • Accessibility auditor

  • SEO auditor

  • Search analytics

2. Search interface

The search results page is means by which a user refines and interacts with their search results. It provides direct access to the results but also provides summary information for each result and tools for refining the search. A search results page and how it looks is infinitely variable can be defined by an administrator.

simple search 01

The search box is the means by which most users interact with a search engine.

A question is asked by typing a few words into the search box and clicking the search button or pressing enter.

This question is then processed by the search engine and a list of results returned to the user.

Search boxes have become simpler over the years now mostly being a single input field and submit button. However the level of functionality provided by the search box has increased despite the search box becoming simpler.

A lot of things happen behind the scenes when interacting with a modern search box - this can include things like expanding a user’s query with synonyms, or using information that is known about the user’s current location.

This has led to users having high expectations of the quality of what is returned by a search engine, even when minimal information is provided. Most users input single word queries, yet search engines are still able to deliver results that are relevant to the user.

Advanced search forms were very common in the past - they provide users with lots of fields that allow for very specific searches to be defined by a user. However they have disappeared from searches as simple search boxes have become smarter to the point where they are quite rare nowadays.

Funnelback has support for advanced search forms but the practical use for an advanced search form has diminished to the point where they are only suitable for very specific audiences such as librarians or legal professionals who have a long history of using advanced search.

It is a common misconception that advanced search will provide the user with better results. In fact studies have found that in most cases users of advanced search yield poorer results because the complexity of the search form means the user doesn’t really understand how to use the form, thus specifying queries that are sub-optimal, or queries that don’t make sense.

The advanced search form can be fully customised.

The location of an advanced search feature using Funnelback will vary with each implementation, but will often look similar to the following:

advanced search 01

2.2. Concierge auto-completion

Auto-completion provides the user with real-time suggestions as search terms are typed into the search box. Funnelback supports several forms of auto-completion.

The different types of auto-completion can be combined so that suggestions are returned from multiple auto-completion sources

2.2.1. Simple auto-completion

As the user begins to type a search keyword or phrase, the search box presents the user a list of suggestions that predict what the user might want. For example:

simple auto completion 01

The suggestions presented by simple auto-completion are based off words and phrases found within the content that is being searched.

2.2.2. Structured auto-completion

This provides advanced auto-completions based on structured CSV data provided by the search administrator. The CSV file records the words that can trigger the auto-completion to appear (the key), the content of the suggestion that is returned to the user (the display and display type) and what happens when the suggestion is clicked on (the action and action type).

The suggestions can be grouped by an optional category value and provide rich content (such as thumbnail images and other data) to the users.

structured auto completion 01

The example above contains a column of structured suggestions (cooking techniques) and simple suggestions (general suggestions). The structured suggestions are based on the following CSV data, which contains eight columns of data:

  1. trigger

  2. weighting

  3. display content

  4. display type

  5. category

  6. category type

  7. action

  8. action type

baking,900,{\"title\": \"Baking\"\, \"description\": \"Cooking food by surrounding it with hot\, dry air\, usually in an oven.\"},J,Cooking techniques,,,U
baking cookies,900,{\"title\": \"Baking Cookies\"\, \"description\": \"This technique is primarily done with fish\, but can also be done with vegetables and other meats.\"},J,Cooking techniques,,,U
baking in foil,900,{\"title\": \"Baking In Foil\"\, \"description\": \"Wrapping food in foil for baking\, thereby allowing the food to be steamed in its own moisture.\"},J,Cooking techniques,,,U
baking in salt crust,900,{\"title\": \"Baking In Salt Crust\"\, \"description\": \"This technique is primarily done with fish\, but can also be done with vegetables and other meats. The food is first covered with leaves and then a thick layer of salt\, and baked in the oven. The salt seals in the moisture resulting in perfectly cooked\, flavorful food.\"},J,Cooking techniques,,,U
barbecuing,900,{\"title\": \"Barbecuing\"\, \"description\": \"This method of cooking involves placing food on a grill or spit and cooking it over hot coals\, usually with a seasoned marinade or basting sauce.\"},J,Cooking techniques,,,U
Structured CSV (comma separated values) data is a table or spreadsheet of data.

2.3. Result set summaries

Once a search has been conducted via the search box, a results page for that search will be produced containing a number of search results.

A short summary of the set of results is returned along with the search results. This summary provides information about the number of results returned, which page of results is currently displayed and what was searched for.

result set summary 01

Each search result includes information about the result. This information will vary depending on what data is available and how the search has been configured. By default the following is returned by Funnelback:

result set summary 02
  • Linked title of the result item

  • URL of the item

  • Access to a cached version of the result

  • The date recorded for the result

  • A short summary of the result. This summary is usually automatically generated and centred around occurrences of the search terms within the context.

The keywords used by the user will always be highlighted in both the title, URL and result.

2.4. Search result filters (faceted navigation)

Faceted navigation provides search users with a set of filters that can be applied to narrow down a set of search results.

2.4.1. What is a facet?

A facet is best thought of as a way of filtering or segmenting the content within a website based on some property of the item. Each facet will include one or more facet categories which are the values of this item property.

For example a facet for colour might be defined, with facet category values corresponding to individual colours (red, blue and so on).

what is a facet 01

Configuration of faceted navigation relies on each item being tagged with the appropriate values that indicate the categories that apply for the item.

Note: The number of the results for each category within a facet are estimates only.

2.4.2. Types of facets

Funnelback supports five types of facets. Each type allows a user to filter the result set.

The types differ by proving choice in how the filtering is applied - allowing filtering on single or multiple categories and providing options on how the filters are combined and how they apply to the result set.

Filter on a single category

Allows a user to filter the result set using a single category value chosen from the facet. Upon selection the facet displays only the selected category value.

Example: Searching for engineer jobs

filter on a single category 01

Selecting the permanent category value from the type facet results in the search results being filtered to only include permanent jobs.

filter on a single category 02

Further category selection from the type facet is not possible, however additional filters can be applied from other facets (location and industry).

Filter on a single category, with drill down

This is sometimes referred to as a hierarchical facet.

Allows a user to filter the result set using a single category value chosen from the facet. After the filter is applied sub-categories may be displayed for the facet.

Example: Searching for engineer jobs

filter on a single category 01

Selecting the VIC category value from the location facet results in the search results being filtered to only include jobs located in Victoria. This is the same behaviour as for a filter on single category facet.

However further sub-category selection from the type facet for cities is now possible.

filter on a single category with drill down 02

Selecting Bendigo from the sub-categories on the location facet further restricts the results to now only include results from Bendigo. Further refinement is possible if additional sub-category metadata is defined (for this example the type facet has been refined as much as possible).

filter on a single category with drill down 03

Further refinement on other facets is possible.

Filter on multiple categories

This is sometimes referred to multi-select or checkbox faceting.

Allows a user to filter the result set using multiple categories from the same facet. The categories can be combined using either AND or OR logic.

Example: Searching for engineer jobs

In this example the industry facet is defined as a multi-select facet using the default OR combine logic.

filter on multiple categories 01

Note: the location facet has been collapsed in the examples so that the industry facet is visible in the screenshots.

Selecting the engineering category value from the industry facet results in the search results being filtered to only include jobs categorised as engineering. This is the same behaviour as for a filter on single category facet.

filter on multiple categories 02

The display updates to show that the engineering category filter is applied, but allows additional categories to be added. Selecting the sales category adds this filter so that the result set is now filtered to return results that are categorised as engineering OR sales.

For most facets an OR combine logic will give the desired behaviour, however this can be chosen when defining the facet and changed so that the categories are combined with an AND.

filter on multiple categories 03
Toggle between categories

Sometimes also referred to as a radio facet due to the facet operating like a radio button list.

Allows a user to filter the result set on a single category. The set of categories remain present after the filter is applied allowing a user to toggle through the different category values.

Example: Searching for engineer jobs

In this example the industry facet is defined as a toggle between categories facet.

toggle between categories 01

Selecting advertising & media from the industry facet filters the result set to only results categorised as advertising & media. Observe that the other categories remain available and the counts are unchanged.

toggle between categories 02

Selecting banking & financial services switches (or toggles) to filter the result set to only include results categorised as banking & financial services. Once again the other categories remain available and unchanged.

toggle between categories 03

Clicking on the next category shows the same behaviour.

toggle between categories 04
Toggle between tabs

This is a special type of facet that is presented as a series of tabs. It is designed to allow a search to be separated into a series of tabs, with other facets then being used to further filter the result set. Because of this the tab facet isn’t included with the selected facets that are displayed above the search results.

Example: Searching for engineer jobs

A toggle between tabs facet, based on the state metadata defines the tabs displayed for this search.

filter on a single category 01

Selecting the WA tab filters the results to only include items from WA. Observe that the Location facet only shows WA, and that the selected facet block above the search results is not displayed to indicate that the results are filtered to WA. This is because the tabs are treated as completely separate UI element to the faceted navigation filter panel.

toggle between tabs 02

Further facets can be applied from the left hand faceted panel.

toggle between tabs 03

Switching tabs filters the result set to the new tab, removing any other facets that were applied within the previous tab.

toggle between tabs 04

2.5. Best bets

Best bets allows an administrator to configure a featured result item to be displayed when a user conducts a specific search.

A best bet is not a search result, but it can feature or promote a page / URL that is not part of a website that is being indexed.

For example, when a user searches for the term Foodista a best bet to featuring the Wikipedia page on Foodista wiki is displayed above the search results. This is presented in addition to the search results.

best bets 01

The presentation or styling of the best bet can be configured by a search administrator and the best bet can include HTML.

In the example above a HTML snippet including an image of the Foodista logo has been returned with the best bet.

Contextual navigation suggests a list of related searches by analysing the result summaries in the set of results returned for a search.

These suggestions are grouped into types and topics related to the original search query.

For example, if a user performed a search for pork the related searches suggested may include types of pork such as pork chops and pork belly as well as topics on pork.

related searches contextual navigation 01

2.7. Spelling suggestions

Spelling suggestions sourced from words and phrases found in the content are automatically returned by Funnelback, regardless of whether or not the search returns any results for the query.

Spelling suggestions when clicked will always return search results because they are based on words in the content and not an external dictionary.

spelling suggestions 01

2.8. No results message

If a user enters in a query that produces no results, a customisable no results message can be displayed. This message is customised via the design template of the search results page. The following is the default message:

no results message 01

2.9. Pagination

The pagination control allows a user to page through the search results.

The control can be displayed multiple times (e.g. above and below the search results) and the can be customised by an administrator.

pagination 01

2.10. Cached results

Every page that a search engine indexes is stored locally by Funnelback. This cached version of the page can be viewed from the search results, with the search query terms highlighted within the content.

For example searching for the terms quinoa and selecting the cached link from the downward caret icon beside the URL of a result opens a cached version of the page with the queried keywords highlighted within the content. The cached version is the content as it was when Funnelback crawled the URL.

cached results 01
cached results 02

2.11. Search sessions and history

The search sessions and history feature in Funnelback requires cookies to be enabled in the user’s browser.

Funnelback has the ability to track a user’s search terms and recently visited items as well as providing the user with the ability to create a shortlist of search result items.

2.11.1. Result shortlisting

Result shortlisting provides a user with the ability to flag certain result items to be added to a shortlist (or result cart) by pinning the item. The pin changes to a cross once the item has been shortlisted. This allows a user to remove the item from the shortlist by clicking on the cross.

result shortlisting 01

The shopping cart icon in the panel containing the search box shows how many items have been shortlisted. All the shortlisted items can also be viewed by clicking on the shopping cart icon.

result shortlisting 02

2.11.2. Search history

When search sessions are enabled a user’s search history is tracked as searches are submitted. A summary of the search history is displayed above the search results.

search history 01

Additional information is displayed if you hover over an item. If the item has a filter applied (as indicated by the funnel icon) then the applied filters will display on hover, otherwise a tooltip indicating the time is displayed.

search history 02

Clicking the more link opens the full history screen.

search history 03

2.11.3. Visited items history

Funnelback also keeps track of all the search results that a user visits. Once a result has been visited an additional field is displayed within the result summary indicating the time that the visit occurred.

visited items history 01

Clicking on the Last visited link also opens up the history screen which provides a full list of recently visited URLs.

visited items history 02

2.12. Further reading

The following search interface features are less-used and not covered in the following exercises.

2.12.1. Search result grouping (result collapsing)

Result collapsing groups similar search results together when displaying search results. The key or keys used for collapsing are configured by a search administrator and are based on either the documents content, or the document’s metadata.

For example, the result item below from a search of the complete works of Shakespeare shows that there are 21 very similar results to the Merchant of Venice: list of scenes result. This search has been configured to group or collapse all search results that are tagged with the same metadata value for a field recording the name of the play.

search result grouping result collapsing 01

Clicking on the 21 very similar results lists the 22 search results that form part of this group (the list of scenes result plus the 21 similar results).

search result grouping result collapsing 02

The initial search result can also be customised to show some additional information for the collapsed results.

The example result below, from another site groups sections of a publication together. The search result is configured to display the title of the first four collapsed items with a More…​ link which is the same as the 21 similar items link in the previous example.

search result grouping result collapsing 03

Quick links are direct links to important sub-pages of a home page and can be displayed as part of the result summary. Quick links are normally only used when providing a multi-site search such as a whole of university search. The search result can also include an optional search box that restricted to the specific site displayed for the search result.

For example a search for the University of Sydney might produce the following search result. Entering a search into the search box will run a search restricted to pages from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music website.

quick links 01

2.13. Advanced search results templating

Funnelback has an extremely flexible templating language. This means that search results can be adapted to any site design and can be used in innovative ways.

For example, search results could be returned in a table, or even plotted onto a map if geospatial coordinate metadata is available:

advanced search results templating 01

Search results can also be templated to any text-based format.

This means that results could be returned in CSV, JSON, XML or other custom text formats.

2.14. Search page exercises

Exercise 1: Auto-completion
  1. Open up the training environment within a web browser and go to the following URL:

  2. Inside the search box start to type the word chicken. As you begin to type, a list of suggestions will begin to display after you’ve typed a minimum of three characters. This list of suggestions updates as you enter each additional character:

    exercise auto completion 01
  3. Select chickpeas from the list of suggestions to generate the search results page for the search query chickpeas.

    exercise auto completion 02
  4. Start to type a search for the word baking. Observe that structured suggestions for cooking techniques are returned.

    exercise auto completion 03
  5. Select the baking cookies suggestion and observe that you are taken directly to a page about baking cookies. This contrasts to the simple suggestion that ran a search for the suggestion. What happens when you click on a structured suggestion depends on what is in the CSV file used to create the suggestions.

    Note: the CSV can be configured to run a search as was the case for the simple auto-completion suggestion.

    exercise auto completion 04
Exercise 2: Results summary
  1. Run a search for chickpeas.

  2. Observe the result set summary message:

    exercise results summary 01
  3. Run a query for roasted chickpea and observe how the result summary message changes:

    exercise results summary 02
  4. The results summary message informs us that the search has returned with 90 results. 3 of those results are fully matching documents or pages that contain the keywords roasted and chickpea., The remaining 87 results are partial matches. A partial match is when the result does not contain all the search terms - in this case either roasted or chickpea but not both. Fully matching results will always appear before partially matching results when sorting by relevance.

Exercise 3: Faceted navigation
  1. Run a search for french

  2. Examine the faceted navigation returned with the search results.

  3. Faceted navigation for type of meat and tags are returned alongside the results. These allow the search user to filter the result set based on these properties.

    exercise faceted navigation 01
  4. Categories default to being ordered by frequency (or the estimated number of results that are tagged with the word), with the top 8 categories shown initially. The number shown to the right of the facet is an estimate of the number of results that are tagged with the corresponding category. For the current search approximately 11 of the results are tagged as French.

    exercise faceted navigation 02
  5. Clicking more on the categories facet expands the list to show the top 16 categories. The sort and limits on number of categories returned can be adjusted by an administrator.

    exercise faceted navigation 03
  6. Clicking the dessert facet category applies a filter to the search query that filters the result set down to only return results that are tagged with a category of dessert. The facet display for the categories facet also updates to indicate that the dessert filter has been selected.

    exercise faceted navigation 04
  7. A selected categories widget also appears above the result indicating the currently selected filters:

    exercise faceted navigation 05
  8. Click on the clear all link, or click on the dessert facet to remove the filter and return the results to the previous list. Select the dessert facet category again and fish from the tags filter. The result set is now filtered to include only items where the tag is marked as either dessert or fish. Categories within a facet are combined with an OR by default (this can be changed in the configuration). Also observe the selected filters widget.

    exercise faceted navigation 06
  9. Select seafood from the type of meat facet. This shows that categories can be combined across facets. Selected categories across facets are combined with an AND - the results are now filtered to include items with type of meat = seafood AND tags = either dessert OR fish.

    exercise faceted navigation 07
  10. Now that we’ve applied one or more facets the search query input box has a checkbox adjacent to it labelled within selected categories only. This allows us to keep our facet categories selected when running a new search query.

    exercise faceted navigation 08
  11. Run a search for roasted salmon keeping the within selected categories box ticked and observe that the new search maintains the tags: fish and dessert, and types of meat: seafood facets. Also observe that a tier bar indicating that the search results are partially matching (reading results that match 1 of 2 words) is displayed above the search result.

Exercise 4: Best bets
  1. Run a search for foodista, making sure the within selected categories only box is unticked. Observe a best bet that is returned above the search results, to the page in Wikipedia discussing the Foodista site:

    best bets 01
  1. Perform a search for the term milk.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the related searches that the term milk has produced.

    exercise related searches contextual navigation 01
  3. From the types of milk section, click on the term condensed milk. The search results will then repopulate to reflect the term condensed milk.

    exercise related searches contextual navigation 02
Observe that the search keyword is surrounded in special quote characters (called backticks). This tells Funnelback to run a proximity search - this looks for the words condensed and milk but only when they are close together in the text.
Exercise 6: Spelling suggestions and no results
  1. Run a search for qinwa.

  2. Funnelback will return with zero results, but provide you with a possible spelling correction, so that you can then click on the correct spelling of the word to improve your search.

    spelling suggestions 01
  3. Beneath the spelling suggestion you will see a no results message. This message can be adjusted and configured by an administrator of Funnelback.

    no results message 01
  4. Click on the quinoa spelling suggestion (the did you mean quinoa link) to run a search for quinoa.

Exercise 7: Pagination
  1. Run a search for chicken.

  2. Scroll down to the bottom search results page. There you will see pagination controls displayed below the search results.

    pagination 01
  3. Click on the second page of results: Observe that the prev button appears, and the page indicator change to show which page of results you are on.

    exercise pagination 02
Exercise 8: Cached results
  1. Run the search for the keyword term: quinoa.

  2. From the list of search results produced, click on the downward arrow beside the search result for Argula tomato quinoa salad to access the cached option.

    exercise cached results 01
  3. Click on cached from the menu displayed to display the cached version of the page: Observe that quinoa is highlighted wherever it appears in the page text.

    exercise cached results 02
Exercise 9: Search history
  1. Return to the search results page by clicking on the go back to search results link and observe your search history. It will look something similar to:

    exercise search history 01
  2. Access the search history by selecting history from the menu under the gear icon on the right-hand side of the search results interface, or by clicking on the more link within the recent searches panel.

    exercise search history 02
  3. The full list of recent searches is displayed along with the number of results for each search and the time at which the search was performed. Clear the history by clicking on the clear button. When prompted confirm that the history should be cleared.

    exercise search history 03
Exercise 10: Search result shortlisting

In this exercise we’ll use Funnelback to help plan a menu using the search result shortlisting feature.

  1. Return to the search results page by clicking on the back to results link. Run a search for appetizers and choose one of the recipes and shortlist this by clicking on the pin that appears before the title. Observe that the pin changes to a cross when you click it.

    exercise search result shortlisting 01
  2. Observe that the shopping cart icon changes to show a 1 next to the cart icon.

    exercise search result shortlisting 02
  3. Search for grilled chicken and shortlist one of the recipes.

  4. Search for dessert and shortlist one of the recipes.

  5. View the shortlist by clicking on the shopping cart icon. Observe the three shortlisted results are returned as saved results. Return to the search results by clicking the back to results link or clicking again on the cart.

    Clicking on an item in the shortlist opens the recipe.

    exercise search result shortlisting 03

3. Knowledge graph

Funnelback knowledge graph provides an alternative way for users to interact with your search index by providing a browseable knowledge graph that is generated from the metadata contained within the content.

URLs within the index are categorised into items of different types (entities) This may cover the whole index or is more commonly a subset of items - it depends on what is in the index and what URLs make sense to be considered as an item of some type.

A knowledge graph provides sets of connections between different entities or nodes that correspond to relationships that exist in the source data.

Once a knowledge graph is built it can be accessed via a widget that provides browse functionality over these entities or can be accessed via an API to supplement existing content or search result pages.

knowledge graph 01

3.1. Knowledge graph widget

Funnelback includes a widget that can be used to interact with the graph. The widget can be integrated into existing websites or used as a standalone tool.

knowledge graph widget 01

The diagram above is an example of the widget displaying an entity. The widget consists of a number of regions:

  • Entity information: This is the information view of the currently selected entity and includes a number of configurable fields which are all sourced from the entity’s fielded properties (which are sourced from underlying metadata in the source content).

  • Related entities: This panel presents other entities from the knowledge graph that are related to the currently selected entity. They are grouped by entity type (the central column containing the song, person and album values).

  • Relationships: The related entities are sub-grouped by the relationship. The tabs include both mentions and user-defined relationships.

Traversal of the graph is achieved by clicking on the related entities, by running a graph search, or using the widget’s breadcrumb navigation

Exercise 11: Knowledge graph overview

In this exercise we will interact with a knowledge graph that has been built on top of a search of a website about the Beatles.

  1. Open the knowledge graph widget that has been built for the Beatles Bible website. The widget provides a way of browsing the songs, albums and people that are covered on the website.

  2. The widget is currently displaying information about the person Stuart Sutcliffe - this indicates the currently selected entity.

  3. The (blue) left hand panel displays properties and other information relating to the currently selected entity.

  4. The (white) right hand region displays all of the related entities, grouped by type (indicated by the central column containing song, person and album) and relationship (indicated by the set of tabs above the list of items).

  5. Click on the person button in the central column to show the people related to the person Stuart Sutcliffe.

  6. Click on the song button in the central column to show the songs related to the person Stuart Sutcliffe.

  7. Click the arrow displayed on the Yesterday item to view the items related to the song Yesterday.

  8. Click on the person button in the central column to show the people related to the song Yesterday.

  9. Click on the written by tab to further restrict this list to the people that wrote the song.

  10. Click the arrow displayed on the John Lennon item to view the items related to John Lennon.

  11. Run a search for Yoko Ono by entering this into the search box at the top right hand corner of the widget.

  12. Spend a few minutes clicking around the graph to get a feel for how the knowledge graph widget works.

4. The marketing dashboard

4.1. Overview

The marketing dashboard is a web-based user interface that allows you to access and manage your Funnelback services.

It includes detailed analytics, accessibility and content audit reports, as well as customisation tools that will help you better understand your users and your content.

4.2. Accessing the marketing dashboard

Accessing the marketing dashboard is via a web browser. The web address of the interface will vary according to your installation of Funnelback. Check with your administrator or web manager for details on how to access your instance of the dashboard. Access is usually from https://<FUNNELBACK-SERVER>:8443/a

When you visit the marketing dashboard you will be prompted to log in. Enter your administration user details into this screen.

accessing the marketing dashboard 01

Once you have gained access to the marketing dashboard you will see an initial screen displaying tiles for each service or collection that you have the ability to manage, analyse and maintain.

accessing the marketing dashboard 02

The home screen is composed the following:

  • User account information and login: clicking on the user name reveals a menu providing access to the user account information (with password change options) and a log out button.

    accessing the marketing dashboard 03
  • Service tiles: each service available for management will display as a tile that loads the services control panel when clicked.

  • Services filter: Filters the displayed tiles to only include those that match the text entered within the filter box.

  • User licence information: Provides a visual representation of the licence usage for the Funnelback service. Clicking on the chart provides more detail.

    accessing the marketing dashboard 04
  • Interface switcher: Allows a user (with appropriate permissions) to access the administration interface.

5. Frontend services

5.1. What are frontend services?

The Funnelback marketing dashboard provides users with tools to understand and optimise their search services.

A search service within Funnelback directly relates to a frontend search service that is provided to an end user.

For example, a search conducted on a university website might include results from a number of different content sources (websites, social media, and course experts). Separate searches can then be provided for different contexts within the university website such as a course finder, a people search or a search that looks at the whole university.

A service would exist in Funnelback corresponding to each of these searches. The services would contain their own usage information and configuration and would be treated as independent searches, even though they might share underlying content and indexes. These different services are presented on the home page of the dashboard as follows:

what are frontend services 01

In the above example, there are three services available: Course finder, FBU search and Staff directory.

5.2. Services dashboard

Selecting a service from the home screen opens a dashboard for managing and analysing the selected service.

services dashboard 01

The service dashboard comprises of the following items:

  • Collection search box: allows a search to be run against the service in preview or live mode. The Funnelback marketing dashboard provides the ability to preview any changes made using the available optimisation tools. This allows best bets, synonyms and curator changes to be made and viewed without the live search being affected. The changes are then published to make them visible on the live search.

  • Display all available services: returns to the services overview screen that lists all of the available services as tiles.

  • Services switcher: quickly switch between available services. Listed services are the same as on the home screen.

  • Show / hide menu bar: clicking on this control hides or shows the menu bar.

  • Return to services dashboard: indicates the current service and clicking returns the user to the service dashboard.

  • Analyse tools: menu of available analysis tools for the current service.

  • Optimise tools: menu of available optimisation tools for the current service.

  • Service summary tiles: are displayed for each analysis and optimisation tool.

The main area of the current service’s dashboard provides access to all the analysis and optimisation tools and displays a tile for each containing a summary of the tool.

Exercise 12: Accessing the marketing dashboard
  1. Open up the training environment within a web browser by visiting the following URL:

  2. Enter your username and password to gain access to the marking dashboard.

    accessing the marketing dashboard 01
  3. The services overview screen will be displayed. There is a two services displayed - for the Beatles Bible and Foodista.

    exercise accessing the marketing dashboard 02
  4. Click on the Foodista tile to access the dashboard for the Foodista service. A dashboard display appears for the service with tiles for each of the available tools.

6.1. Search analytics reports

Search analytics reports provide valuable insight into the users of a website and the information they seek.

The reports not only tell you what information users expect to find on a website, but also the language that they expect it to describe it.

The key to managing the success of your website is to understand these users - who they are, what they expect to find on the site and the language they use to describe it.

The analytics reports also provide other insights that help to understand the users in more detail - demographic information that is inferred from the user’s IP address.

This provides information on the where users are located and also information about the user’s industry in many circumstances.

It is also worth noting the added value provided by search analytics when compared with web analytics. Web analytics reports on pages visited by a user, but there is no real way of knowing what the user was looking for based on this. Search analytics provide the actual search terms used as well as the links clicked on - providing a much better picture of what a user seeks.

The search analytics are available via the left-hand menu of the marketing dashboard and consists of five different reports:

  • Search analytics overview

  • Searches

  • Clicks

  • Location

  • Trends

6.1.1. Search analytics overview

The main search analytics screen provides a summary of search activity on the current service for the specified time frame.

search analytics overview 01

Hovering over the chart provides additional information on the number of searches, clicks and best bets clicks for the given day.

search analytics overview 02
Analytics summary

A summary of the main analytics metrics is displayed at the top of the page. The numbers presented reflect the data for the currently selected time period.

analytics summary 01

The metrics included in the summary are:

  • Number of searches recorded within the current timeframe.

  • Number of result clicks made during this period.

  • The top country where the most number of searches originated.

  • The top city/suburb where the most number of searches originated.

  • The top segment where the most number of searches originated. The segment is inferred from the user’s IP address, which is compared with a database of public information known about IP addresses. The segment information can include information such as the derived organisation name and industry segment (such as higher education or finance).

Monthly summary

The monthly summary is displayed at the bottom of the page detailing the number of searches, clicks and best bet clicks by month for the current timeframe.

monthly summary 01

6.1.2. Reporting period and comparisons

The period of time covered by the analytics reports can be adjusted using the timeframe control located at the top right hand corner of the screen.

The menu allows selection from set a of pre-defined relative time frames, or specification of a custom time period.

The analytics updates automatically when the time frame is changed.

Clicking on the compare button allows you to define a second time frame. This allows for graphs to be produced that compare the analytics over the different time frames.

reporting period and comparisons 01

6.1.3. Searches report

Clicking on the searches item in the menu opens the searches report. The searches report provides information on searches conducted by users of the service.

The searches report covers the most commonly searched keywords, which provides an insight into what the information site users seek and find most important.

The report also examines the top searches that returned no fully matching results. This information is a vital source of information that can be used to improve the experience of users of the search service.

Searches summary

The searches summary provides a day-by-day graph of the number of searches run by users of the search service.

searches summary 01

The time period covered can be narrowed (or zoomed) by adjusting the slider controls to the left and right of the header bar on the graph. This provides the ability to zoom in to a smaller period within the graph without changing the time period covered by the report.

Hovering over the data points provides a popup containing the count for the data point.

A control at the top right hand corner of the graph provides a drop down menu containing options to export, annotate or print the graph.

The annotation feature allows you to draw / mark the line graph with notes and annotations that you can then save / export out as necessary.

The charts can be exported in the following image formats: (PNG, SVG, JPG, or PDF) or data formats (CSV, XLSX or JSON).
Top keywords

The top keywords report displays the top search terms for the selected period ordered by the number of searches. The filter control allows filtering of the list by a substring.

top keywords 01

The top keywords report provides the following insights:

  • Popular content topics: The report provides an insight into the topics of most interest to users of the site for the given time period. Over time this can provide a picture of the most important content to maintain on a site.

The data presented here can also be downloaded as a CSV file.

Top unanswered keywords

The top unanswered searches report displays popular searches for the selected time period that did not return any fully matching results ordered by the number of searches.

top unanswered keywords 01

The unanswered keywords report provides the following insights:

  • Words that users of the search commonly misspell: These represent valid searches (if correctly spelled. This information can be used to create a synonym to auto-correct a misspelling.

  • Different terminology to describe content: These represent valid searches, but fail to match any content within the site because the user’s terminology differs from that used in the site content. This information can be used to create synonyms that equate the user terminology to that used on the site.

  • Searches for content that isn’t covered by the site: This can represent valid searches - and can be used to identify information gaps in the site content. Alternatively this can indicate a gap in expectations of what a user perceives should be present on the site. In this case a best bet could be created that presents a result item that directs the user to a website that contains the content for which they are searching.

Searches hourly distribution

The searches hourly distribution chart shows the total number of searches conducted during the time period broken down by hour of the day. This report provides an indication of when the search load is the greatest and can assist in both capacity and maintenance planning.

searches hourly distribution 01
Search keyword details screen

Clicking on a keyword from the top keywords or top unanswered keywords tables opens the details screen for the search keyword.

The search keyword details screen provides the daily search volume for the search keywords and a table of the top result clicks for the keyword.

search keywords details screen 01

A toolbar providing a set of actions that can be run using the keyword is also applied.

search keywords details screen 02
  • Audit SEO: opens the SEO auditor with the keyword pre-entered.

  • Audit content: opens the content auditor report searching for the keyword.

  • Create a best bet: enables quick creation of a best bet using the keyword as the trigger.

  • Create a synonym: enabled quick creation of a synonym using the keyword as the trigger.

  • Search results: returns the current set of search results for the keyword.

6.1.4. Clicks report

The clicks report provides insight into what users are viewing or clicking on as a result of using the search feature of your site.

A click is registered when a user clicks on a search result, noting not only the URL of the result item clicked on but the position of the item in the result set and the search query that was used to obtain the results.

The click information is also used by Funnelback to influence the ranking of search results. For example if lots of users run a search for the term avocado and consistently click on the second result on the results page then this result will eventually get pushed up in the rankings.

Clicks summary
clicks summary 01

The clicks summary graph plots the number of clicks per day over the selected time period. The chart includes the same zoom and export controls as the searches summary.

Top clicks

The top clicks table lists the URLs of pages that were most frequently clicked on ordered by the number of clicks.

Top best bets clicks

The top best bets lists the best bets that were most frequently clicked on ordered by the number of clicks.

Top faceted navigation clicks

The top faceted navigation table lists the most frequently applied filters. This can provide an insight into how users narrow their searches.

Top contextual navigation clicks

The top contextual navigation clicks table lists clicks on related search categories.

6.1.5. Locations report

The locations report provides information on the location and demographics of users of the search.

World map

The world map chart plots the location of users of searches onto a map where a location can be determined. The interactive map allows zooming and presents additional information when hovering over countries or points of interest.

A user’s location is inferred from their IP address.

Similar controls for zooming and also for export, annotation and printing of the data are provided.

world map 01
Top countries

The top countries table lists the top countries based on the origin of search requests. An unknown value indicates that a country could not be inferred from the IP address.

Top cities/suburbs

The top cities and suburbs table lists the top cities / suburbs based on the origin of search requests. An unknown value indicates that a city or suburb could not be inferred from the IP address.

Top IP addresses

The top IP addresses table lists the IP addresses recorded as the origin of searches ordered by the number of searches.

Clicking on an IP address in the table will display the demographic information that is inferred by looking up the IP address in a public database of information recorded about the IP address. The level of information displayed will depend on the available data about the IP address.

For example, inspecting shows the following information:

  • Organisation name

  • Type of organisation

  • Industry

  • Location

  • Revenue

  • Number of employees

top ip addresses 01

The trends report provides information on the search trends by listing search keywords that have seen a significant increase in query volume in a short space of time.

These increases, or query spikes, can alert an administrator to topics that have suddenly become popular among users. This could indicate reaction to a news story that has broken, or a report that was recently released.

These trend alerts can be used to enable an organisation to react with greater speed to the changing needs of users.

When a trend alert is raised an administrator can check the query and verify that the results returned are appropriate, or take steps (such as adding best bets or synonyms) to ensure that users are directed to appropriate information.

The trends overview screen summarises spikes in specific search keywords that were detected in the selected timeframe.

trends overview 01

The overview provides the following information:

  • Query: the search keyword that has seen a significant increase in volume. Smaller related search keywords are displayed below the main keyword.

  • Shape: a line graph of the query volume for the keyword over time.

  • Confidence: The system confidence that this is a query spike.

  • Peak: When the peak occurred for the keyword.

  • Increase: The percent increase that was detected in search volume for the keyword.

  • User locations: The locations from which the searches for the keyword originated.

Clicking on a query or graph on the overview screen opens up a detailed screen showing the daily query volume for the selected keyword.

Tools for inspecting the keyword in SEO and content auditor as well as running a search and creating best bets and synonyms are also available from this screen.

trends detail 01

6.2. Search analytics report exercises

The analytics data is auto-generated for the training session and will differ from what is shown in the screenshots.
Exercise 13: Analytics dashboard
  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard and select the Foodista service.

  2. The dashboard displays a search analytics tile that shows the search and click activity for the analytics demonstration over the last month. Load the analytics dashboard by clicking on the search analytics tile, or by clicking on the search analytics link in the sidebar.

    exercise analytics dashboard 01
  3. The analytics dashboard is displayed. Summary data for the current month is displayed by default.

  4. Observe the overview summary that provides the main counts for the current report period (the current month).

    exercise analytics dashboard 02
  5. The searches and clicks chart displays day by day totals for searches, search result clicks and best bets clicks.

    exercise analytics dashboard 03
  6. The monthly summary displays a month by month breakdown of searches and clicks.

    exercise analytics dashboard 04
  7. Update the report timeframe to show analytics for this year.

    exercise analytics dashboard 05
  8. Observe that the overall summary, graph and that the monthly summary update with data covering the new timeframe (this year).

    exercise analytics dashboard 06
Exercise 14: Search report
  1. Select the searches item from the sidebar of the analytics dashboard, or click on the searches count from the summary bar that appears at the top of the analytics dashboard above the monthly summary table.

    exercise search report 01
  2. The searches report is displayed, covering the time period previously selected (this year). Observe the searches summary which provides a day by day graph of search volume.

    exercise search report 02
  3. Zoom in on the searches summary by adjusting the slider controls above the graph.

    exercise search report 03
  4. Click the show all button at the top right hand corner of the graph to zoom back out.

  5. Filter the top keywords by entering a keyword into the filter searches input box.

    exercise search report 04
  6. Export the graphs and tables by clicking on the download button associated with the relevant item.

    exercise search report 05
  7. Tables can be exported as CSV and charts as a variety of formats. The chart export function also provides the ability to annotate the graphs before exporting.

  8. Investigate a specific search further by clicking on a keyword from the list of top keywords. A search detail screen loads providing an over time graph of search volume for the selected keyword and a table containing the top clicks from searches this term.

    exercise search report 06
Exercise 15: Clicks report
  1. Select the clicks item from the sidebar of the analytics dashboard, or click on the clicks count from the summary bar that appears at the top of the analytics dashboard above the monthly summary table.

  2. The clicks report is displayed. The displayed data maintains the date range that was previously set. The clicks report is broken up into five sections. A click is registered when a user clicks on a search results (if click logging is enabled).

Exercise 16: Locations report
  1. Select the locations item from the sidebar of the analytics dashboard, or click on the top country from the summary bar that appears at the top of the analytics dashboard above the monthly summary table.

  2. The locations report is displayed. The displayed data maintains the date range that was previously set. Investigate the map by using the zoom controls and hovering over countries and points of interest.

    exercise locations report 01
  3. Observe the top countries, cities/suburbs and IP addresses reports. Investigate further demographic information about an IP address by clicking on an address in the top IP addresses table. Select a few IP addresses that have a known location to get any available demographic information for the address. The available information will vary depending on the address chosen.

    exercise locations report 02
  1. Select the trends item from the sidebar of the analytics dashboard to open the trends report.

  2. The trends report overview opens showing query spikes detected during the current time period. Observe that some results include related query terms below the query. (e.g. see the tomato query in the example below). Note: the related queries in the analytics training example are based on randomly generated analytics so the relationships detected don’t have any true relationship and will appear random.

    exercise trends report 01
  3. Investigate one of the queries by clicking on the query term or chart. The details screen is displayed showing the day by day number of searches for the search term and any related terms.

    exercise trends report 02
Exercise 18: Analytics comparison
When comparing time periods ensure that the time periods selected make sense. E.g. a comparison of last month vs. last year probably doesn’t provide a valid comparison because the time periods are vastly different in size.
  1. Return to the search analytics summary screen by clicking the search analytics link in the left hand menu then change the current timeframe to correspond to show searches for last month. Observe that the timeframe updates after the selection is made.

    exercise analytics comparison 01
  2. Add a second timeframe clicking on the compare button. Define a custom timeframe for the previous month (i.e. two months prior to the current month) by selecting custom and selecting a start and end date using the calendar controls then apply the timeframe. The report changes to display two sets of analytics side by side:

    exercise analytics comparison 02
  3. All of the analytics screens can be viewed and exported with comparisons being displayed on all the tables and charts.

    Additional timeframes can also be defined by clicking the add control (+ button).

  4. Remove a timeframe by clicking on the remove button (- button) or remove all timeframes by clicking on the clear timeframes link.

6.3. Content auditor

The content auditor report is designed to assist you to understand and manage your content.

While the tool primarily focuses on your content’s metadata, it can also report on:

  • Readability of your content

  • Usage of undesirable words

  • When content was last updated, modified, published

  • Response times of your content

  • Discovery of duplicate content

The content auditor report can be filtered in a number of various ways through the recommendations, overview, attributes and search results screens.

6.3.1. Recommendations

The recommendation screen within the content auditor provides you with a number of different reports about the overall quality of your content.

Reading grade chart

The reading grade chart reports on the reading grade level of pages in the index. The reading grade is assessed using the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale. This estimates the reading level required to understand the content from the user’s point of view. The grade level is the level of schooling - a grade of 8 corresponds to 8th grade reading level, or that easily understood by a 13-14 year old in 8th grade.

reading grade chart 01

A reading grade level of 8-9 is considered plain English. For WCAG 2.0 accessibility compliance (Level AAA) the readability of your sites content should be secondary school level (grade 9) or lower. The pages audited for the chart above pass this AAA check.

Clicking on any of the bars in this report filters the recommendations data based upon that reading grade level. For example by clicking on the grade 5 level we get an analysis of that specific grade.

reading grade chart 02
Missing metadata

The missing metadata table identifies pages that are missing metadata fields that are configured for reporting within the content auditor.

missing metadata 01

By default the content auditor reports on author, format, language, publisher and subject metadata.

Clicking one of the items filters the report to report on only items missing the selected field.

For the search in the example above the default tags are missing in all pages. An additional metadata field, tags, is also reported on and this is missing from 3581 pages on the site.

Duplicate titles

The duplicate titles table lists titles that are found in more than one page. A duplicate title could indicate a duplicate content page, or a poorly titled page.

Duplicate titles should be avoided as these can cause confusion with users.

duplicate titles 01

This table can be used to identify the pages with duplicate titles so that a web administrator can take the appropriate action (which could be removing duplicate content or re-titling a page to provide better context.

Clicking one of the items filters the report to report on only items that contain the selected title. Clicking the view all button opens up the attributes report.

Date modified

The date modified report presents a chart of when pages / documents were last modified. This is based upon the metadata of the page/document and can be helpful to identify which documents should be updated and/or reviewed.

date modified 01

Moving your mouse across each of the bars in the chart, will give you a glimpse of how many pages / documents have changed in a certain timeframe. Clicking on a bar filters the report to the selected year.

Response time

The response time report provides you with a bar chart of the time taken to download documents. This may help identify pages / documents / sections or entire sites where response time is in need of improvement.

Note: the response time only tracks the time taken to retrieve the document and doesn’t include linked resources. It is not the same as a page load time which includes the time taken to load these resources (such as images presented in a HTML page).

Hovering over the bars in the chart provides additional information.

response time 01
Undesirable text

The undesirable text table reports on undesirable words found within the content.

By default the undesirable word list includes common misspellings but can be customised to identify organisational-specific undesirable words (such as specific words banned in editorial policies or other terms such as acronyms).

undesirable text 01

Clicking one of the items filters the report to report on only items that contain the specific word. Clicking the view all button opens up the attributes report.

6.3.2. Content auditor overview

The overview tab reports on the top values found for each of the metadata fields covered by the content auditor report.

Metadata fields that are configured but missing in all the pages are suppressed.

Each metadata field can be explored further by clicking the corresponding view all button, or the report filtered to just the specific metadata value by clicking on one of the values.

content auditor overview 01

6.3.3. Content auditor attributes

The attributes tab provides a complete list of metadata values for each metadata field that is included in the content auditor report. Clicking on one of the values in the list will restrict subsequent reports to documents containing that metadata value.

content auditor attributes 01

6.3.4. Content auditor search results

The search results tab lists the individual pages that match the current search criteria which consists of any search terms entered into the search box filtered by any of the metadata values selected on other screens.

The results are returned as a table that shows the metadata values for each item along with some tools linking in with other parts of the marketing dashboard.

The table lists:

  • Title and URL of the document / page

  • File size

  • Last updated date

  • Format

  • Metadata that is configured to be reported on

  • Quick access to additional tools

The listing can be exported as CSV.

Additional tools are available for each item in the listing providing quick access to the tool in the context of the selected page:

Symbol Name Function

Analyse anchor tags

Provides information about pages that link to the current page.

SEO auditor

Loads the page into SEO auditor, allowing for analysis on how the page performs for specific search terms.

Check accessibility with WCAG auditor

Information on how the page conforms to WCAG accessibility checks.

Preview the page / document

Shows a thumbnail sized preview of the page.

View cached copy

Loads the cached (or locally saved) copy of the page.

6.4. Content auditor exercises

Exercise 19: Accessing content auditor reports
  1. From the marketing dashboard select the foodista service then click on the content auditor tile, or select content auditor from the sidebar menu.

  2. The content auditor - recommendations screen will then load.

    exercise accessing content auditor reports 01
Exercise 20: Content auditor recommendations
  1. Log in to the dashboard and select the Foodista service. Access the content auditor report by clicking on the content auditor sidebar item, or by clicking on the content auditor tile within the main dashboard display.

  2. Observe the different tables and charts that form the recommendations page - reading grade, missing metadata, date modified, duplicated titles and response times.

  3. Click on the bar with a value of 6 from the reading grade chart. The display changes to indicate that filters are applied for a reading grade level of 6. The reading grade chart disappears and the other tables and charts update with the filter applied. The filter will remain applied while navigating around the content auditor report until it is removed by clicking on the cross that appears next to the reading grade filter, or by clicking on the clear all filters button.

    exercise content auditor reccommendations 01
  4. Click on tomatos from the undesirable text table. The display updates to indicate that the undesirable text filter is applied for the word tomatos. Observe that the reading grade filter is still applied. The report now displays information for pages with a reading grade of 6 that includes the undesirable text tomatos.

    exercise content auditor reccommendations 02
  5. Clear the filters by clicking on the clear all filters button. The content auditor report reverts to the original state.

Exercise 21: Metadata reporting
  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard and select the Foodista service. Access the content auditor report by clicking on the content auditor sidebar item, or by clicking on the content auditor tile within the main dashboard display.

  2. Click on the tab labelled overview. The metadata overview appears showing the top four values for date modified, duplicated titles, generator and tags. Tags is a custom metadata fields that have been configured for the Foodista search. Note: the other default metadata fields (author, subject, language etc.) are not shown because the pages on the Foodista site do not include any of this metadata.

    exercise metadata reporting 01
  3. Click on the view all link that appears below the tags table.

  4. Sub-divide this report further to show only content modified in 2016 by selecting date modified from the side bar, then 2016 from the attributes list.

  5. No further detail is available to drill down on in the date modified attribute. The individual pages from 2016 that have a tag can be viewed from the search results tab:

    exercise metadata reporting 02
  6. Within the search results tab, we can examine each matching result in more detail. Hovering over each result will trigger the appearance of additional icons:

    exercise metadata reporting 03
  7. For a given search result, trigger the anchors summary sub-report, showing which pages within a collection link to this one, and what link text is used.

    exercise metadata reporting 04
    exercise metadata reporting 05

    The anchors summary lists information about the links that reference the page that is being examined including the words used (which are counted towards the content for the document) as well as the type of link.

  8. For a given search result, trigger the accessibility auditor sub-report, producing advice on how to improve the page’s compliance with WCAG2:

    exercise metadata reporting 06
    exercise metadata reporting 07
  9. For a given search result, trigger the preview functionality, showing a thumbnail of how the page appears for a desktop-based browser by hovering over the eye icon:

    exercise metadata reporting 08
  10. For a given search result inspect the cached copy of the document by clicking on the history icon:

    exercise metadata reporting 09
    exercise metadata reporting 10
Exercise 22: Export content auditor reports
  1. Export the report as a CSV file by clicking on the export CSV data button:

    exercise export content auditor reports 01
  2. A download should start automatically with the file saved to your default download location as content-auditor-export.csv.

6.5. Accessibility auditor

The Funnelback accessibility auditor examines web content for accessibility issues. These issues are cross-referenced against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) which is the recognised standard for assessing web content for accessibility.

Note: The Funnelback accessibility auditor tool is a great tool for checking your site for accessibility compliance, but should not be the only method used to check content. The auditor tool only checks the accessibility of machine-readable HTML and PDF content. A large number of checks required for full WCAG compliance require manual checking.

6.5.1. Brief overview of the WCAG 2.0

The guidelines are broken down into four key principles known as the POUR principles which stand for:

  • Perceivable

  • Operable

  • Understandable

  • Robust

Each principle consists of a number of rules and guidelines for ensuring web content is accessible. These rules and guidelines are then broken down further into levels of compliance.

  • Level A (single A).

  • Level AA (double A).

  • Level AAA (triple A).

These guidelines extend to include not just websites but PDF files, Word documents, images, videos and other multimedia.

6.5.2. Success criteria and techniques

  • Success criteria are the standards of accessibility that need to be met in order to achieve WCAG compliance.

  • Techniques are the recommended ways in which these criteria can be met. There can be different sets of techniques that can be used to meet a single success criterion, meaning that WCAG compliance is possible while still recording technique failures as a technique failure does not necessarily indicate failure to comply with WCAG.

6.5.3. Accessibility auditor summary

The main services page within the marketing dashboard displays a summary of the current accessibility auditor conformance for the service.

accessibility auditor summary 01

6.5.4. Accessibility auditor overview

The overview provides a snapshot of how the service is progressing towards attaining each level of accessibility compliance. This provides an 'at a glance' summary of the current performance, and also a way to immediately see the affected pages at each accessibility level.

accessibility auditor overview 01

The screen is made up of a number of widgets:

  • Overview: A one-line summary of the accessibility audit for the service.

  • Compliance to WCAG levels A, AA and AAA: Summary of how the service meets the different WCAG compliance levels, with the ability to see the documents that fail to meet the level. Clicking on one of the tiles opens up a document report restricted to that WCAG level.

  • Summary: Provides an overall picture of the current state of the accessibility audit for the service. The widget includes three tabs:

    • Documents: pie chart that segments the service into affected documents (that do not pass all the machine checks), unaffected documents (that pass all of the machine checks) and unchecked documents (that couldn’t be checked).

    • Principles: provides a star rating of how well the service rates against the four principles of the WCAG specification.

    • Levels: provides a summary of the documents that pass the automated WCAG A, AA or AAA checks.

  • Reports over time: shows how the service has performed over time. The widget includes two tabs:

    • Issues: shows the number of failures and potential issues that need review detected over time.

    • Documents: shows the number of affected/unaffected and unchecked documents over time.

  • Top failures: shows the most frequently occurring failures.

  • Most affected documents: shows the documents affected by the most failures.

  • Domains: provides a summary of failures, potential issues that need review and unaffected documents by domain.

6.5.5. Accessibility auditor documents report

The documents report provides a document-centric view of the WCAG compliance for the service.

The report lists documents that are affected by WCAG issues sorted by the number of issues.

accessibility auditor documents report 01

This report can be used to prioritise which documents should be fixed first. For example reduce the total number of affected documents on a site more quickly by fixing those with fewer errors, or make high value changes by identifying and fixing errors that affect lots of pages.

The report offers a number of refinement options allowing the report to be focussed for more specific tasks. Various facets allow the documents report to be filtered by various attributes such as sub-folders (URL) or WCAG compliance level (Levels). Keyword filtering is also possible and will filter the report to only documents that include the specified keyword(s).

Clicking on the document title opens the document report for that single document.

6.5.6. Accessibility auditor document level report

The document level report provides detailed information on all the failures and issues that need review detected for an individual document.

accessibility auditor document level report 01

The report consists of a number of panels:

  • Document audit summary: provides an overview of the number of detected failures and issues that need review as well as the WCAG levels that the document fails to comply with.

  • Failures: lists each failure, grouped by the POUR principles, that were detected for the current page sorted by the number of times the error was detected. The issues are grouped into issues and issues that need review.

  • Source code: shows the source code of the document.

Clicking the audit again button runs a real-time audit of the document. This allows for fixes to be made to the document and the changes checked in real time.

Clicking on one of the success criterion shows the different techniques that have generated failures against the criterion.

accessibility auditor document level report 02

Clicking on a specific technique failure provides further information on the failure and suggested steps on how to resolve the issue. The source code also highlights the regions of code where the error was detected.

accessibility auditor document level report 03

Clicking on a highlighted error or selecting view summary from the failures popup menu opens a window with information about the issue, how to fix it and also provides an administrator with an option to acknowledge the issue.

accessibility auditor document level report 04
accessibility auditor document level report 05

6.5.7. Acknowledgements

An acknowledgement can be used to manually mark an issue to be ignored. Many of the WCAG checks are not black and white and will only be an error in certain circumstances that cannot be determined by a computer.

This means that a number of checks will be marked as needs review - because manual review is required to determine if the issue is actually a failure.

When creating an acknowledgement options are available to control the scope of the acknowledgement (whether it affects just a specific occurrence or wherever the issue is found) and also to record justification for the acknowledgement (in case an audit trail is required).

Creating acknowledgements

Failures can be acknowledged from the document level report by selecting one of the acknowledge items from the failure’s popup menu, or by clicking the create acknowledgement button on the details popup window.

creating acknowledgements 01

This opens the acknowledgement screen which allows the failure to be acknowledged. Options are provided to define the following:

  • Acknowledgement type: choose to ignore the failure (because perhaps you have mitigated the failure in another way) or pass the failure (because the failure is only in certain circumstances and you have verified that it’s actually a pass).

  • Reason: Provide some information justifying why the acknowledgement is appropriate (for audit purposes).

  • Scope: Define a scope for the acknowledgement - does it apply to just this specific error? anywhere the error is detected? etc.

Managing acknowledgements

The acknowledgements screen (accessed from the left hand menu) lists all the acknowledgements that have been created for the service and allows an administrator to manage the acknowledgements.

managing acknowledgements 01

6.5.8. Success criteria report

The success criteria report details the affected documents broken down by success criterion. The report can be filtered by WCAG level and POUR principle allowing an administrator to focus on the failing success criteria, and thus prioritise which techniques need to be addressed to attain the desired level of WCAG compliance.

success criteria report 01

Clicking on an individual success criterion (either in the listing, or in the bar chart) opens a screen providing more detail on the specific criterion.

6.5.9. Techniques report

The techniques report lists failures against specific WCAG techniques.

techniques report 01

The issues can be filtered by various attributes.

The table of issues provides the issue name and number of times the issue was detected as well as information on the WCAG success criteria and levels that the issue affects.

Clicking on a technique will load a technique level report showing information about the technique and pages that are affected.

techniques report 02

6.6. Accessibility auditor exercises

Exercise 23: Viewing accessibility auditor reports
  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard, select the Foodista collection then select accessibility auditor from the left hand menu, or click on the accessibility auditor tile.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 01
  2. The accessibility auditor overview will load:

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 02
  3. Examine the overview summary message and the summary tiles for compliance against WCAG levels A, AA and AAA.

  4. Examine the summary widget. The documents tab is selected by default showing a summary of the current document compliance.

    The chart is broken down into pages affected by at least one accessibility issue, unaffected pages and documents that could not be checked by Funnelback. Clicking the help icon next to the title opens a help window.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 03
  5. Select the principles tab to see how the service rates against the four WCAG principles. The star rating is computed based on the number of documents and number of checks that Funnelback performs for each principle.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 04
  6. Select the levels tab for a summary of compliance by WCAG level. The bar chart plots the number of documents that attain each WCAG level.

    A document is considered to have obtained a given level if all the checks performed by Funnelback for this level are successful. Note: this does not guarantee compliance at the given level as the WCAG standard includes accessibility checks that must be assessed manually.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 05
  7. Examine the reports over time widget. By default this widget displays the number of issues affecting the service over time. Your widget will be displaying a No data found message as the accessibility auditor has only run a single time. Once accessibility auditor runs again the screen will update to look more like the screenshot below.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 06
  8. The documents tab displays the affected, unaffected and crawled documents over time.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 07
  9. The top failures widget shows the top success criteria and technique failures that affect the service, ordered by the number of documents affected.

    Opening the success criteria tab shows the top success criteria failures. More information such as the number of affected documents and WCAG level is displayed on hover.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 08
  10. The techniques tab similarly shows technique failures by the number of affected documents.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 09
  11. The most affected documents by success criterion failures widget lists the top five affected documents, by the number of failures detected.

    Clicking view all affected documents opens the documents report.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 10
  12. The domains widget displays a summary of the failures of grouped by domain (as indicated by the document URL).

    Each domain item provides a total number of documents checked and counts for the number of confirmed, likely and possible failures.

    The domain list can be filtered by domain by entering a domain into the filter box.

    The domain list can be sorted by domain, or by the number of documents.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 11
  13. Click on a domain name to open a domain summary. The domain summary mirrors the overview report, but is limited to documents from the selected domain. Observe that the left hand menu also expands to show domain level sub-reports.

    exercise view accessibility auditor reports 12
Exercise 24: Documents report and acknowledgements
  1. Open the documents report by selecting all documents from the left menu.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 01
  2. Filter the report to only include items affected by WCAG level A by selecting the A category from the level filter. The listing updates with items affected by WCAG level A issues and an indication that the report is filtered to WCAG level A.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 02
  3. Apply an additional filter to show only the items that contain a confirmed failure. Select the failure category from the issue type filter. Observe that the applied filters update.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 03
  4. Select one of the affected documents to load the document-level report.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 04
  5. The success criterion failures panel displays all the detected issues, grouped by the four principles and sorted by the number of times the issue was detected in the page. Click on a success criterion to show the individual techniques that have had failures detected.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 05
  6. Find out more about an individual technique failure and how to fix it, or tell Funnelback to ignore the failure by clicking on the highlighted region within the source code. Before clicking on the issue make a note of which issue you are selecting.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 06

    Acknowledging an issue instructs Funnelback to ignore the issue when future checks are performed.

    When acknowledging an issue a number of things need to be defined:

    • How this failure should be acknowledged within a page - by a CSS selector, fragment of HTML or for every occurrence of the failure. This allows an acknowledgement to be created that selects multiple occurrences of the failure within the page.

    • The scope of acknowledgement needs to be defined - allowing the error to be ignored everywhere, only on pages within the current domain or just on the current page.

    • A reason justifying why the acknowledgement is acceptable. This provides some basic auditing that can be used to explain why an acknowledgement was created and who created it.

  7. Create an acknowledgement for the selected failure. Enter a reason into the dialog then press the save button to return to the document view.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 07
  8. Locate the issue that was just acknowledged and observe that the it is now marked as acknowledged.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 08
  9. Observe that the issue that was acknowledged is now highlighted blue.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 09
  10. Click on the acknowledged criterion or the edit control for the criterion to edit or delete the acknowledgement. Clicking the view acknowledgement menu item or clicking on the blue highlighted code opens the acknowledgement editor.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 10
    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 11

    Click on the acknowledgements link in the left hand menu to list all the active acknowledgements. Edit an acknowledgement by clicking on the label in the issue type column. Delete the acknowledgement by clicking on the delete icon.

    exercise documents report and acknowledgements 12
Exercise 25: Techniques and success criteria reports
  1. Open the techniques report by selecting all techniques from the left menu.

    exercise techniques and success criteria reports 01
  2. The techniques report provides similar controls to the documents report. Hovering over an issue and selecting view affected documents will open up a documents report with the current issue applied as a filter. Clicking on a success criterion will open the official WCAG documentation on the criterion.

    exercise techniques and success criteria reports 02
  3. The success criteria report shares the same layout, but reports on success criteria. Open the report and spend a few moments inspecting the report.

6.7. SEO auditor

The search engine optimisation (SEO) auditor is a tool that can be used to help explain and improve the search ranking of a specific page for specific keywords.

seo auditor 01

The audit report is displayed after a URL and keyword is entered. The SEO auditor report is broken into three main sections:

  • Summary

  • Top ranked results

  • Optimisation tips

6.7.1. SEO auditor summary

The SEO auditor summary provides summary information about the document and how it performs for the specific query.

seo auditor summary 01

The summary also provides information on the number of indexable words found within the document, broken into the total number of words and number of unique words.

The start over button allows a new SEO audit to be performed on a different URL and set of keywords.

6.7.2. SEO auditor top ranked results

The top ranked results section provides a comparison between the page of interest and the top 10 results for the query.

seo auditor top ranked results 01

The chart provides a breakdown of the factors that influence the ranking score for the page of interest and each document in the top 10 results.

Hovering over the results in the table provides a quick audit button allowing an SEO audit to be performed for the specific result, with the current query.

seo auditor top ranked results 02

6.7.3. SEO auditor optimisation tips

The final section of the SEO auditor report provides optimisation advice on how to improve the ranking of the page of interest.

The section is broken into a number of sub-topics that provide advice and charts showing how the page of interest compares to the top 10 results for the specific ranking factor.

seo auditor optimisation tips 01
Exercise 26: SEO auditor
  1. Open the marketing dashboard and select the Foodista collection. The SEO auditor can be accessed by clicking on the SEO auditor link in the left hand menu, or by entering a URL and search query into the SEO auditor tile. Click the SEO auditor link in the left hand menu to open the SEO auditor.

    exercise seo auditor 01
  2. Enter a URL for analysis. This can either be input directly or by clicking the suggest URL button. Normally you will already have a URL in mind before using the tool so it can be input directly. Click suggest URL to see a list of suggestions. Click one of the URLs and this will appear in the URL field. Press the hide button to close the suggestions.

    exercise seo auditor 02
  3. Click on the suggest keyword(s) button to open up a tag cloud of popular search terms for the URL. Clicking on a suggestion will input the keyword into the search keywords field. Note: the suggested keywords for the training dataset are based on fake analytics data and using one of the suggested words has a high chance of returning zero or poor results for the suggested URL.

    exercise seo auditor 03
  4. A more common use for SEO auditor case is to answer the question: Why does the URL display at rank X when I search for Y? For this use case the URL and keyword of interest will already be known and should be entered directly into the boxes. Enter the following into the SEO auditor form then press the audit button.

  5. Observe that the URL returns at rank number 3 for a query of burger. Looking at the ranking chart it is clear that the content component is the biggest difference between this result and the URL that returned as the first result.

    exercise seo auditor 05
  6. Scroll down to the optimisation tips for advice on how to potentially improve the ranking of the URL of interest. The suggestions are tailored for the current report. In this case they are focussed on improving the content of the document.

A best bet is used to feature items independently to the set of search results.

Best bets are completely independent of the search index and can link to items that are not part of the websites that make up the search. They can also be used for promotional purposes to promote a certain page or document based upon a user’s query.

best bets 01

The style and appearance of the best bets in the search results is governed by the stylesheets that are applied to the search results template, and the position can be controlled by a search administrator with the ability to edit the templates.

7.1.1. Managing best bets

Best bets are managed from the best bets section of the marketing dashboard. The manager provides tools for creation, editing, cloning and deletion of best bets, and also the ability to publish and unpublish.

If the service does not have any best bets defined the following screen is displayed when accessing the best bets section:

managing best bets 01

If there are best bets defined a table listing the best bets is displayed. Clicking on a best bet opens the best bet inside the editor. Administrators also have the ability to publish unpublish, clone and delete a best bet.

Cloning an item makes a copy of an existing best bet that can then be edited.

Best bets are not available in the live search until they are published. This allows a best bet to be created and tested before release, or staged for later use.

Clicking the add new button opens the best bet editor.

7.1.2. Creating and editing best bets

Best bets are configured using a simple form.

The example below shows the configuration for the best bet that is shown above.

creating and editing best bets 01

Each best bet requires the following:

  • Title: used for the hyperlinked text for the best bet result

  • Description: used for the summary text presented below the title. This can include HTML formatting.

  • URL: this is the URL to link to when the best bet is clicked on. The URL can be any URL and does not need to be part of the search. There is an option that allows the URL to be removed from the set of search results if it matches the URL for the best bet.

  • Trigger: these are the search terms that will cause the best bet to be displayed.

  • Trigger type: this controls how Funnelback compares the user’s query to the best bet trigger. There are four types of triggers:

    • The search keyword(s) exactly matches: This will only trigger if the user’s keyword is identical to the trigger.

    • All words must be present in the search keyword(s), in any order: This is the most commonly used trigger and matches when all the trigger terms appear within the user’s query. E.g. a best bet using a trigger of red wine will appear as long as the words red and wine both appear somewhere in the user’s query.

    • Substring match: The best bet is returned if the trigger is a substring of the user’s query. E.g. a best bet with a trigger of red will be returned for the following queries: red wine, reduction, blackened redfish.

    • Regular expression match: The best bet is returned if the trigger regular expression matches the user’s query. This is an advanced match type for power users allowing advanced matching such as wildcards. If you are unfamiliar with regular expressions then don’t use this trigger type.

7.1.3. Previewing and publishing

Funnelback provides the ability to preview changes made to best bets and other configuration allowing changes to be made and viewed without the live search being affected.

The changes are then published to make them visible on the live search.

Best bets once live can also be unpublished - this removes them from the live search and allows them to be previewed and edited for future use.

When an item is saved but marked as unpublished it can be viewed by using the search box located at the top of the marketing dashboard and ensuring the preview option is chosen from the drop down.

previewing and publishing 01

This will run a search using the live index, but apply anything that is marked as unpublished. This allows a best bet to be created and tested before it is released.

Selecting live from the search box will run the search against the live index applying only configuration that has been published and is equivalent to what public users of the search will see.

Exercise 27: Creating a best bet
  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard and ensure the foodista collection is selected.

  2. Observe the summary tile for best bets. The summary is showing that there is 1 best bet configured - and there are no best bets that contain unpublished changes.

    exercise best bets 01
  3. Click on the best bets tile, or select best bets from the left hand menu to open the best bets section.

    exercise best bets 02
  4. Click the add new button to open the best bets editor. Observe that the preview is updated dynamically as data is entered into the form. Enter the following into the best bets editor then click the add button:

    • Trigger keywords: blood orange

    • Match type: The search keyword(s) exactly matches

    • Title: Blood orange rosemary sorbet

    • URL to display/link to:

    • Description: This is a simple, beautiful and delicious treat to beat the mid-winter funk. Mix with champagne or prosecco for a beautiful and simple dessert perfect for entertaining!

      exercise best bets 03
  5. Observe that the new best bet now appears in the list of best bets, and that it has a status of new and that there is a button available to publish the best bet.

    exercise best bets 04
  6. Run a search for blood orange using the search box at the top of the marketing dashboard. Ensure that preview is selected from the drop down.

    exercise best bets 05
    exercise best bets 06
  7. Observe the best bet appearing above the search results. Return to the marketing dashboard and run the query again, this time ensuring that live is selected from the drop down.

    exercise best bets 07
    exercise best bets 08
  8. Observe that the same results are returned, but the best bet is not displayed. This is because the best bet has not yet been published. Return to the best bets editor and publish the best bet, then rerun the query ensuring that live is selected from the drop down menu. Observe that the best bet is now returned with the results.

    exercise best bets 09
  9. Run a search for blood orange juice. Observe that the best bet is not returned. This is because the trigger for the best bet has been set to the search keyword(s) exactly matches - this means that the best bet will only trigger if the user’s query exactly matches blood orange. Return to the best bets editor and change the trigger to substring match. Save and publish the best bet and rerun the search for blood orange juice. Observe that the best bet is returned. This is because the trigger blood orange is a substring of the user’s query, blood orange juice.

  10. Return to the best bets editor and change the trigger to foodista orange and the trigger type to all words must be present in the search keyword(s), in any order. Run a search for orange foodista and observe that both best bets are now returned. This is because the trigger conditions for both of the best bets are met. A search for orange cake foodista will also trigger both best bets. This highlights that the order of the trigger terms does not matter when using the all words are present trigger.

    exercise best bets 10
Extended exercises: best bets
  1. Experiment creating some additional best bets with different trigger types and ensure that the trigger matching makes sense.

  2. Add some HTML formatting to a best bet.

7.2. Synonyms

A synonym by definition is any word that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the same language (e.g. lawyer, attorney, solicitor). When compiled together in a database or system of these terms, the result is a thesaurus.

Funnelback supports user-defined synonyms that are configured in a similar manner to best bets.

Funnelback uses the defined synonyms to expand or modify the user’s query terms behind the scenes. This allows an administrator to use synonyms for additional query modification beyond the thesaurus-like definition of a synonym.

Synonyms in Funnelback can be used to:

  • expand a term into a set of equivalent terms. E.g. when somebody includes the word lawyer somewhere in a query also search for attorney or solicitor.

  • expand acronyms. E.g. if query includes the term moj also search for ministry of justice.

  • map user language to internal language, or non-technical language to the equivalent technical terms. User’s often don’t know the exact technical words to use and this can prevent them from finding what they are looking for. E.g. map bird flu to H1N1.

  • auto-correct known misspellings. E.g. if a query includes the word qinwa automatically replace this with quinoa. Funnelback does include a spelling suggestion system, but synonyms can enhance the user experience by fixing a misspelling without a user needing to click on an extra did you mean link.

Exercise 28: Synonyms
  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard and select the foodista service. Open the synonyms editor by selecting synonyms from the left hand menu or by clicking on the synonyms tile.

  2. The synonyms listing screen loads and is very similar to the screen used for listing best bets. Create a new synonym by clicking the add new button.

    exercise synonyms 01
  3. The synonyms editor screen appears allowing the quick entry of multiple synonyms. Create synonyms rules to equate the words coriander, cilantro and chinese parsley. This requires the creation of three rules that expand each of the words into a search for any of the three words. Add a rule with the following:

    • When these keywords are submitted: coriander

    • Transform them to: [coriander cilantro "chinese parsley"]

    • Apply the transformation if: all words must be present in the search keyword(s), in any order

      exercise synonyms 02
  4. The first column contains the trigger term (coriander) and is compared with the search query entered by the user. If a match is found (as per the match type in the third column) then the term is transformed to the value in the second column. The square brackets indicate that the terms should be ORed together, and the quotes indicate that the words contained within should be treated as a phrase (so count as a single word).

    With this in mind the synonym translates as:

    If the word coriander appears anywhere within the user’s query then search for coriander OR cilantro OR "chinese parsley".

    So a search for coriander soup would result in a search for (coriander OR cilantro OR "chinese parsley") soup.

    Click the add button to add all of the synonyms that have been entered on the new synonyms screen.

  5. The synonyms listing screen loads showing the defined synonyms:

    exercise synonyms 03
  6. Test the synonym by searching for coriander from the search box at the top of the marketing dashboard screen, ensuring the preview option is selected from the drop down menu. Observe that the search results include items for cilantro, and that cilantro is also highlighted in the search results.

    exercise synonyms 04
  7. Create additional synonyms for cilantro and chinese parsley so that searches for any of these terms result in expansion to all three words. Enter both synonyms then click the add button. Don’t forget to set the match type. When entering the chinese parsley trigger enclose this in quotes to ensure that the match is treated as a phrase and only occurs when the word chinese is immediately followed by parsley.

    exercise synonyms 05
  8. The synonyms listing updates to list all three synonyms.

    exercise synonyms 06
  9. Publish all the synonyms by clicking the publish all button.

Extended exercises: synonyms
  1. Create a synonym to auto-correct the spelling for qinwa. Add a rule with the following:

    • When these keywords are submitted: qinwa

    • Transform them to: quinoa

    • Apply the transformation if: all words must be present in the search keyword(s), in any order

7.3. Curator

Curator allows an administrator to define rules and actions that are applied to a query. Each curator rule sets consist of one or more triggers, and one or more actions to perform.

7.3.1. Curator manage screen

The curator management screen allows an administrator to create, edit, clone, publish and unpublish curator rules.

curator manage screen 01

7.3.2. Curator triggers

A curator trigger is a set of conditions that when satisfied result in the curator rule running.

curator triggers 01

The curator trigger can be made up of a number of different trigger conditions that are combined to form the overall curator trigger.

Each of the curator trigger conditions consist of a trigger type and any additional fields that are required for the type.

Trigger conditions are collected into trigger groups. Each trigger group contains 1 or more trigger conditions.

curator triggers 02
Trigger types

Curator supports a selection of different trigger types that are used for each condition that makes up a trigger group. Additional fields are required for each trigger and vary depending on the chosen trigger type. Each trigger has a positive and negative form (indicated below in the parentheses).

  • Facet selection: trigger if a specified facet is selected (or not selected)

  • Country of origin: trigger if a search originates (or does not originate) from a specific set of countries. Country of origin is determined from a reverse IP address lookup on the user’s IP address.

  • Date range: trigger if the search is made within (or outside of) a specific date period.

  • Keyword: trigger if the search matches (or does not match) specified keywords. The keywords can be matched to the search as an exact match, substring match, regular expression match or if the search contains all the keywords.

  • URL parameters: trigger if the search URL contains (or does not contain) specific parameter/value combinations

  • Segment/attribute: trigger if the user belongs to (or does not belong to) an industry segment of attribute derived from the user’s IP address.

7.3.3. Curator actions

curator actions 01

Each curator rule once triggered can execute one or more actions chosen from the following action types:

  • Add to, replace or transform search keywords: modifies the user’s query to add, replace or transform terms within the query. Can be used to provide similar behaviour to synonyms but conditionally triggered.

  • Display a simple message: allows a simple informational message to be returned along with the search results.

  • Display an advert: allows an item equivalent to a best bet to be returned along with the search results

  • Promote results: promotes specific URLs to the top of the set of search results

  • Remove results: removes specific URLs from the set of search results

Exercise 29: Create a simple message curator rule

In this exercise a curator rule will be created to add a simple factual message when a specific keyword is entered.

  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard, select the Foodista collection then open the curator manager by clicking on curator in the left hand menu, or clicking on the curator tile.

  2. Add a new curator rule by clicking the add new button.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 01
  3. The curator rule editor loads. Define a name for the curator rule. The rule name needs to be unique and is used to identify the rule in the curator manager. Observe that the title updates as the rule name is entered.

    • Rule name: Did you know - Nutella

      exercise create a simple message curator rule 02
  4. Create a trigger for the curator rule. The trigger defines the conditions that will cause the rule to run. A rule that will be triggered whenever someone searches for anything about nutella will be defined for this curator rule. Add a trigger group for the curator rule by clicking the add new button. This creates a new trigger group and populates it with a blank rule.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 03
  5. Choose the trigger type by clicking on the dropdown menu. Choose search keyword(s) match all the terms as the trigger type.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 04
  6. Define the additional values required for the trigger type. Enter nutella into one of the term fields. Remove the other empty term field by clicking the adjacent - button.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 05
  7. This completes the definition for the trigger. Add an action by either clicking on the then do these actions…​ tab then clicking the add new button, or by clicking the add actions button on the trigger screen.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 06
  8. Choose an appropriate action type from the action type dropdown menu. Choose:

    • Action: display a simple message.

  9. Observe that the list of fields updates when the action is changed. The fields for defining an action are dependent on the type of action chosen.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 07
  10. Define the additional action fields. Enter the message into the message box.

    • Message: Did you know that February 5 is international Nutella day?

      HTML code can be input into this field and observe that a preview is displayed as the message is input. The preview gives a rough idea of how the message may look, but the actual look and feel in the search results page will be governed by the CSS style sheets that the website designer applies.

      exercise create a simple message curator rule 08
  11. This completes the definition of the action for this curator rule. Save the rule by clicking the green add button. The curator manager reloads displaying the curator rules that are defined for the service.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 09
  12. The curator rule is now saved but unpublished. This means that it can be previewed using the search box at the top of the marketing dashboard, by running a search and ensuring that preview is selected. Test the rule by running a search for nutella.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 10
  13. Observe that the search results for nutella are displayed and that the message that was just configured is displaying above the search results.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 11
  14. Return to the curator manager and edit the curator rule by clicking on the rule name. The editor re-opens allowing modification of the rule.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 12
  15. Add a second action. Click on the add actions button, or select the then do these actions…​ tab then click the add another action button. Observe that an empty action is added below the first action.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 13
  16. Change the action type of the new action to add terms to the search keywords, and enter cake into the terms field. Save the action then re-run the search for nutella.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 14
  17. Observe that there are now more results returned, and these are made up of fully matching and partially matching results. The fully matching results include both words and partially matching results include either of the words. Also observe that the word cake is highlighted in the result summaries and that the message is still being displayed. This demonstrates a curator rule that has two actions for a single trigger.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 15
  18. You can also combine multiple triggers with ANDs and ORs. For example you may want the International Nutella Day message to be displayed on the actual date, February 5th.

  19. To do so, return to the curator manager and edit the rule.

  20. You may want the rule to trigger when the query "nutella" is entered AND the date is February 5th. To do so, click on add a trigger group. This will combine triggers with AND. To combine triggers with OR, use the Combine button.

  21. Select the Search is made within a date range trigger type and select the 5th of February for the current year.

    exercise create a simple message curator rule 16
  22. Save the rule and run the search again. The message should not be displayed anymore. You can edit the rule again, change the date today’s date, save, and confirm the rule is displayed again.

  23. Return to the curator manager and publish the curator rule to make it live.

Tuning is a process that can be used to determine which attributes of a document are indicative of relevance and adjust the ranking algorithm to match these attributes.

The default settings in Funnelback are designed to provide relevant results for the majority of websites. Funnelback uses a ranking algorithm that is influenced by many different weighted factors that scores each document in the index when a search is run. These individual weightings can be adjusted and tuning is the recommended way to achieve this.

The actual attributes that inform relevance will vary from site to site and can depend on the way in which the content is written and structured on the website, how often content is updated and even the technologies used to deliver the website.

For example the following are examples of concepts that can inform on relevance:

  • How many times the search keywords appear within the document content.

  • If the keywords appear in the URL.

  • If the keywords appear in the page title, or headings.

  • How large the document is.

  • How recently the document has been updated.

  • How deep the document is within the website’s structure.

Tuning allows for the automatic detection of attributes that influence ranking. The tuning process requires training data from the content owners. This training data is made up of a list of possible searched - keywords with what is deemed to be the URL of the best answer for the keyword, as determined by the content owners.

A training set of 50 - 100 queries is a good size for most search implementations. Too few queries will not provide adequate broad coverage and skew the optimal ranking settings suggested by tuning. Too many queries will place considerable load on the server for a sustained length of time as the tuning tool runs each query with different combinations of ranking settings. It is not uncommon to run in excess of 1 million queries when running tuning.

Funnelback uses this list of searches to optimise the ranking algorithm, by running each of the searches with different combinations of ranking settings and analysing the results for the settings that provide the closest match to the training data.

It is very important to understand that tuning does not guarantee that any of the searches provided in the training data will return as the top result - but this information should result in improved results for all searches.

The tuning tool consists of two components - the training data editor and the components to run tuning.

Any user with access to the marketing dashboard has the ability to edit the tuning data.

Only an administrator can run tuning and apply the optimal settings to a search.

The running of tuning is restricted to administrators as the tuning process can place a heavy load on the server and the running of tuning needs to be managed.

7.4.1. Editing training data for tuning

The training data editor is accessed from the marketing dashboard by clicking on the tuning tile, or by selecting tuning from the left hand menu.

A blank training data editor is displayed if tuning has not previously been configured.

editing training data for tuning 01

Clicking the add new button opens the editor screen.

editing training data for tuning 02

The tuning requires a good sample set, e.g. 50-100 examples of desirable searches. Each desirable search requires the search query and one or more URLs that represent the best answer for the query.

Two methods are available for specifying the query:

  1. Enter the query directly into the keyword(s) field, or

  2. Click the suggest keyword(s) button the click on one of the suggestions that appear in a panel below the keyword(s) form field. The suggestions are randomised based on popular queries in the analytics. Clicking the button multiple times will generate different lists of suggestions.

editing training data for tuning 03

Once a query has been input the URLs of the best answer(s) can be specified.

URLs for the best answers are added by either clicking the suggest URL to add or manually add a URL buttons.

Clicking the suggest URLs to add button opens a panel of the top results (based on current rankings).

editing training data for tuning 04

Clicking on a suggested URL adds the URL as a best answer.

editing training data for tuning 05

Additional URLs can be optionally added to the best URLs list - however the focus should be on providing additional query/best URL combinations over a single query with multiple best URLs.

A manual URL can be entered by clicking the manually add a URL button. Manually added URLs are checked as they are entered.

editing training data for tuning 06

Clicking the save button adds the query to the training data. The tuning screen updates to show the available training data. Hovering over the error status icon shows that there is an invalid URL (the URL that was manually added above is not present in the search index).

editing training data for tuning 07

Once all the training data has been added tuning can be run.

Tuning is run from the tuning history page. This is accessed by clicking the history sub-item in the menu, or by clicking the tuning runs button that appears in the start a tuning run message.

The tuning history shows the previous tuning history for the service and also allows users with sufficient permissions to start the tuning process.

Recall that only certain users are granted the permissions required to run tuning.

editing training data for tuning 08

Clicking the start tuning button initiates the tuning run and the history table provides updates on the possible improvement found during the process. These numbers will change as more combinations of ranking settings are tested.

editing training data for tuning 09

When the tuning run completes a score over time graph will be updated and the tuning runs table will hold the final values for the tuning run.

editing training data for tuning 10

Once tuning has been run a few times additional data is added to both the score over time chart and tuning runs table.

editing training data for tuning 11

The tuning tile on the marketing dashboard main page also updates to provide information on the most recent tuning run.

editing training data for tuning 12
The improved ranking is not automatically applied to the search. An administrator must log in to apply the optimal settings as found by the tuning process.
Exercise 30: Tuning search results
  1. Log in to the marketing dashboard switch to the foodista collection.

  2. The tuning section is accessed by selecting tuning from the left hand menu, or by clicking on the tuning tile.

    exercise tuning search results 01
  3. Click on the add new button to open up the tuning editor screen and start defining the training data. An empty edit screen loads.

    exercise tuning search results 02
  4. Enter a query by adding a word or phrase to the keyword(s) field. Click on the suggest keyword(s) button to receive a list of suggested keywords and click on one of the suggestions observing that the value populates the keyword(s) field. Edit the value in the keyword(s) field and enter the word carrot.

    exercise tuning search results 03
  5. Observe that the best URLs panel updates with two buttons allowing the best answers to be defined. Click on the suggest URLs to add button to open a list containing of pages to choose from.

    exercise tuning search results 04
  6. Select the page that provides the best answer for a query of carrot. Note that scrolling to the bottom of the suggested URLs allows further suggestions to be loaded. Click on one of the suggested URLs to set it as the best answer for the search. Observe that the selected URL appears beneath the Best URLs heading.

    exercise tuning search results 05
  7. Save the sample search by clicking on the save button. The training data overview screen reloads showing the suggestion that was just saved.

    exercise tuning search results 06
  8. Run tuning by switching to the history screen. The history screen is accessed by selecting history from the left hand menu, or by clicking on the tuning runs button contained within the information message at the top of the screen.

    exercise tuning search results 07
  9. The history screen is empty because tuning has not been run on this service. Start the tuning by clicking the start tuning button. The screen refreshes with a table showing the update status. The table shows the number of searches performed and possible improvement (and current score) for the optimal set of raking settings (based on the combinations that have been tried so far during this tuning run.

    exercise tuning search results 08
  10. When the tuning run completes the display updates with a score over time chart that shows the current (in green) and optimised scores (in blue) over time.

    exercise tuning search results 09
  11. Return to the main services screen by clicking the Foodista dashboard item in the left hand menu and observe the tuning tile shows the current performance.

    exercise tuning search results 10
A search administrator with access to Funnelback’s administration interface will need to be contacted in order for the optimal tuning settings to be applied.

8. Tips and tricks

Search analytics provides an insight into what your users are actually looking for as it presents the words and phrases that your users have entered into a search box.

The search experience can be greatly enhanced by applying a few simple techniques in combination with regular analysis of the analytics reports.

8.1.1. Top searches

Funnelback’s top searches report shows you the most popular searches, ranked by popularity.

This provides a window into the information that users are seeking and helps an administrator understand the website audience.

Better still, this information allows prioritisation to be given to content creation and maintenance.

8.1.2. Top unanswered searches

Funnelback’s top unanswered searches report shows the most frequent searches that did not return any fully matching results.

This is a very useful report as it helps to identify:

  1. Language differences: users searching for language that differs from that used on the website.

  2. Content that is not present: users searching for content that simply does not exist on the website.

  3. Common misspellings: users can have terrible spelling, and mobile internet usage has made this worse.

8.1.3. Language differences

Organisations are often constrained to use particular language for many reasons such as corporate style.

This can result in internal language; acronyms or jargon being spread across a site - language that doesn’t match what a user knows (or cares) about.

An example of this is the difference between lawyer (in common usage it’s used to refer to basically any legal practitioner) and more technical terms used such as barrister, Queen’s counsel etc. From an end-user point of view these terms should be equate.

Another common problem is the use of acronyms, such as UK, HK, USA etc.

Synonyms can be used to transform user language into internal language by equating or expanding the terms.


  • When a user searches for lawyer search internally for lawyer OR solicitor OR barrister OR qc OR "queen’s counsel"

  • When a user searches for UK search internally for "United Kingdom" OR UK

Note: United Kingdom is specified as a phrase to ensure the expansion only matches when the phrase is present.

8.1.4. Common misspellings

Funnelback will automatically return spelling suggestions for user queries. However why not automatically correct the query where the intent is obvious if the non-matching query log indicates a high number of queries with incorrect spelling. This reduces a click for the user and improves the user experience.

Synonyms can once again be used to automatically correct the spelling.

E.g. When a user searches for goverment search automatically for government.

8.2. Controlling what gets indexed

Significant improvements can be made to the relevancy of search results by thinking a bit about what content within a website should be included in the search.

There are a few mechanisms available that can be used to focus the content included within the search:

For example:

  • web standards such as robots.txt and robots meta tags.

  • Funnelback specific configuration such as defining include/exclude rules and no-index tags.

8.2.1. Robots.txt

The robots.txt standard specifies a site configuration file (robots.txt) and some meta tags that can be used to control web robots such as Funnelback.

Robots.txt can be used to instruct Funnelback (and other web robots) to ignore complete folders within your website.

The robots.txt file is read when the Funnelback first visits the site and every new URL is checked against the robots.txt file before it is downloaded and included in the index.

Robots meta tags can be placed within the header of the page to tell a web robot whether or not to index and whether or not to follow any links in the page containing the meta tag.

This can be used to exclude certain pages from being indexed without stopping Funnelback from crawling through the site.

8.2.2. Include/exclude rules

Funnelback provides configuration options for defining what should be included and excluded from a crawl of a website. These include/exclude patterns and strings of text that are matched as substrings or regular expressions against the URL. Any URL that doesn’t match a pattern (include/exclude) it will be rejected by the web crawler.

8.2.3. No-index tags

Funnelback also provides site administrators with the ability to mark sections of a page as containing content that should not be indexed. These tags can be used to hide navigation and page headers and footers from the indexer. This means that the search results will only match within the content area of a page.

Noindex tags can usually be included within a site template and are an excellent and low cost method of improving search relevancy.