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Campus Computing News

Powered by Google

By Charity Beck, CWIS Developer, UNT Central Web Support

In the continuing effort to improve the University of North Texas computing experience, the UNT search engine will officially be powered by Google starting at the end of July. The new search engine, Google, may be used now, but the old search engine, HTDIG, will be gone by the end of July. The main UNT site (http://www.unt.edu) and UNT Search page (http://www.unt.edu/search) are currently using the Google search engine.

If you have a search field located on your site you need to change the form action attribute as well as the form field.

An example of the OLD way to code your search field:

<form method="get" action="http://pan.acs.unt.edu/cgi-bin/htdig.pl" class="formsize">
< input type="hidden" name="exclude" value="">
< input type="hidden" name="restrict" value="">
< input type="hidden" name="config" value="htdig">
<input type="text" name="words" size="8" value="Enter terms" class="formsize" onFocus="document.forms[1].words.select()"
tabindex="3" id="searchterms">
<input type="submit" name="Submit" value="Search" class="formsize" tabindex="5">
</form>

The NEW way to code your search field:

<form method=GET action=http://www.google.com/u/unorthtexas>
<input TYPE=text name=q size=31 maxlength=255 value="">
<input type=submit name=sa VALUE="Search">
</form>

In an effort to maintain the integrity of Google's search results, Google takes a proprietary approach to indexing it's sites. Page
Rank is their secret defense against spammers and advertising guerillas.

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important. Google's order of results is automatically determined by more than 100 factors, including our PageRank algorithm. Due to the nature of our business and our interest in protecting the integrity of our search results, this is the only information we make available to the public about our ranking system.

So you might ask, "How do I improve my site's rank within the search results?". Good question! After reading several articles, tutorials, and technical documents I gathered some helpful (not foolproof) tips.

  • Make your title, located between the <title></title> tags, as descriptive as possible. For example, if I was creating a site for WebCT, I would use the title "WebCT at University of North Texas".
  • Use keywords, or words you would use to perform a search, within the content of your page. Again, if I was creating a site for WebCT, I would use the word 'WebCT' as many times as possible throughout the content of the page.

Since Google uses "PageRank" to index sites you might say to yourself "Well, I guess I don't need those META tags that the UNT Web Publishing Guidelines talk about". This would NOT be the case. The State of Texas requires all state agencies to adhere to the state's search engine, TRAIL (Texas Records and Information Locator, http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/trail), policies. So you still have to include your 'Title', 'Author', 'Keywords', and 'Description' META tags!