Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WotW: Search me! Blogger search options

Happy Wednesday! Thanks for the kind feedback for last week's anniversary post -- and remember, suggestions are always welcome!

Today we're talking about searching. Not for Mr. Right... I've already found him ;)... but searching for whatever you're looking for on a blog. Since most blog authors are also blog readers, there are two sides to the search coin (as to most coins....):
  • As a blog reader, you and your searching options are at the mercy of the blog author.
  • As a blog author, your readers are at your mercy for search options. Except for that reserved right to leave at any time. And we don't want that.
So, as you read blogs... you're stuck with whatever the blog author gives you, in every aspect, and especially in the search aspect.

But, remember how we talk about that Golden Rule all. the. time? As a blog author, you get to act on the Golden Rule regularly, giving your readers what YOU would like to read, how you would like to read it. The same goes for search options, of course.

There are two main default search options available in Blogger:

the search bar in the Blogger navigation bar

the search box available as a widget
What's the difference? They both tend to pull up the same results, but the way that they show the results is very different.

When you search using the nav bar, results look like this: a box that says "showing newest posts for query ____" and then each post that fits that query (search) in it's full glory, just like you'd see it on the blog homepage or as you clicked through the archives.

and when you search using the widget, results look like this: a more familiar shortened and highlighted Googlesque search results section, shown at the top of the main content area of the blog (where the blogs posts show).

So which should you use? It really doesn't matter so long as you at least have ONE. Having both doesn't hurt, in my opinion, and there are pros and cons to each. Both allow readers to search for what they're looking for -- a must -- and both have some occasional technical difficulties and shortcomings (which is SO sad considering that they are products of Google, the search engine king).

search in the Blogger nav bar
  • Unless you manually remove the Blogger nav bar from your blog, it's there and familiar to many blog readers (many, but not all... see cons below :)
  • It's good for readers who are browsing for a certain topic (especially if there isn't a label to browse for that topic), since it bring up full posts and allows readers to read and browse through all the posts that fit their search term(s).

  • Some readers (such as yours truly) associate the Blogger nav bar with functions for Blogger as a whole (like the Sign In and Next Blog buttons), not the blog itself. So, readers like me (and I thought I was pretty savvy!) may not know that search option is available and that it will search just the blog you are visiting and not all of Blogger. I spent a lot of time being frustrated with blogs for not having the sidebar search widget, thinking that there was NO way for me to search that blog... and then Debra told me how the nav bar search works. Oops.
  • It displays search results as full posts... which can be a bugger to scroll through if you know exactly the post that you're looking for.
  • It's a package deal with the Blogger nav bar, which isn't the prettiest design element ever included on a blog. :)

search box widget

  • The search box is a very familiar search tool, so as long as it's easily visible and accessible (toward the top of the blog so that readers don't have to scroll and scroll to find it), most readers will be very comfortable with using it to search.
  • It provides familiar Googlesque search results, showing the title and highlighted search term -- best for searchers looking for a specific post, and still really nice for searchers who are browsing for posts on a certain topic.
  • Blog authors can customize the search a bit, showing the tabbed options to search this blog, search linked from here, search the web, or search any blog/link list widget included in the blog.

  • The widget is easily buried among other sidebar items, and if it's not easy to find, readers probably won't use it. So, if you add the widget, make it a top priority to keep it very visible!

The widget rules the pro-con battle... but I may be biased. Probably. What do you think? How often do you search on blogs?

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.
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