Endeca Injects Social Navigation into Enterprise Search

Endeca's Discovery Suite modules allow the use of customer-generated content such as reviews, ratings and tags in search returns.

Endeca Technologies Sept. 17 rolled out two new software modules that can be tacked on to its Endeca Information Access Platform to fortify search for customers as part of the new Endeca Discovery Suite.

The Discovery Suite is designed to juice up online revenue by boosting conversion rates and increasing content consumption for Endecas retail and online media customers, said the company, based in Cambridge, Mass.

The first two add-on modules are Social Navigation and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Social Navigation incorporates customer-generated content into site searches, while Search Engine Marketing works to boost page rank.

Endeca, which competes with Google, IBM, Mercado Software and others in the enterprise search market, timed the announcement for the Shop.org Annual Summit in Las Vegas beginning Sept. 17, said John Andrews, director of strategic marketing for Endeca.


To read more about IBMs push in enterprise search, click here.

Social Navigation embodies the collaborative spirit of Web 2.0 by allowing site owners with the Endeca search platform to return user-generated content, such as product reviews, opinions, ratings, posts and tags, to offer people more information on products and services, the company said.

Another feature of the Social Navigation module is integration between the Endeca IAP and retail review software from Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews.

"There are a lot of stats out there that show that people trust their peers more than they might trust the people that are trying to sell them something," Andrews said. "The conversion rates of customers that sort by highly rated products are higher than the rates of customers who dont use that capability."

For example, Endeca Marketing Solutions Manager Brian Rosenblat gave an online demonstration of how users could winnow a search for digital cameras from 8,000 options down to 182 based on searches of user reviews rated between 4 and 5 by users who had used the camera.

"Internet search solutions like Google do a very good job of taking a word and bringing you back a list of results very quickly," Andrews said. "Thats great, but if Im a retailer and Ive got a customer coming to my site and they put red shirt into my search box, if Ive got a thousand red shirts, theres no way for a computer to know the exact one that the customer is looking for at the top of the list."

Susan Aldrich, an analyst with the Patricia Seybold Group, said such social search is valuable because while a site such as Amazon will help the user find a book or a CD, it wont get as specific as, for example, locating a top-rated book used by photographers.

"One type of content that seems to be the most difficult for sellers to compile is how a product is used," Aldrich said. "The fact that this product is best used in cold weather, or that this camera is best for sports pictures—sellers dont have that. Being able to search on the user content is a very special thing for consumers."

Aldrich also said other search engines, such as Mercado, are indexing review information from PowerReviews and Bazaarvoice and incorporating them into the search ranking and selection process.

Endecas Andrews said the SEM module helps Web search engines like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search and Ask.com more accurately rank sites powered by Endeca. The module promises to drive traffic and boost content consumption, click-through rates and conversion rates.


Read more here about Googles move into enterprise search.

To do this, the SEM module employs SEO (search engine optimization) capabilities that make dynamic pages appear as static pages when being crawled or indexed by major Web search engines, increasing both the number of pages indexed and their relevancy ranking.

The module introduces functionality that maps keyword buys to landing pages, maximizing return from paid search strategies and spending, the company said. The idea is to tighten the linkage between retail site search and Internet search.

The Social Navigation and Search Engine Marketing modules are available today, with pricing based on the amount of data and traffic a customer has.

The Discovery Suite builds on Endecas Guided Navigation, dynamic merchandising and content spotlighting capabilities, which hit the market in 2001. Andrews said five more Discovery Suite modules focusing on Web 2.0 capabilities, such as personalization and recommendations, Web analytics, closed-loop reporting, multichannel operations and back-end integrations, will appear on a rolling basis over the next several months.


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