Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Etsy Improves Search -- Adds Relevance

According to Auctionbytes: "Etsy is replacing its existing search technology with Solr, an open-source search system used by sites like Netflix and Zappos. Etsy said the new technology would provide it with the foundation to scale in terms of speed and functionality and is the first in what it expects to be a series of improvements to Etsy's search function throughout the year."

As Etsy grows and adds listings to its database, the need for search improvements becomes evident. The need for more relevant search results increases as you grow. Relevancy is a tough component to add to search because you are adding some subjective elements to an objective search using an algorithm that weights keywords. Google does a great job with relevancy but search is their core competency.

eBay should have considered using an outside search technology like Solr, instead of bringing search in-house and screwing it up. Sorry couldn't just leave an Etsy post alone without adding my 15% on eBay. Notice Etsy doesn't have anything called "Best Match" in their search. :)

Just my 15%

7 comments:

ms.pat said...

Anything Netflix is good. A solid company with a great site. I love em.

I really feel Etsy needed to improve search. Many times items that should have been viewed just sat without any views at all. I think I have to blame that on the site itself. Its not as clear cut as Bonanzle. It also has several things....like treasure or alchemy that aren't clearly explained...all of which can lose a seller some business if they can't understand how to make use of them.

Anonymous said...

It's a a shame that Ebay's search is so bad. A few years back they had Louis Monier on the payroll the developer of Alta Vista and a superb search programmer .

Guess what he left Ebay and went to work for Google.
Why Ebay doesn't settle their differences with Google and let them program a search that would make everyone more money is beyond me.

Sachin Agarwal said...

I have to say that your dig at eBay is way, way unfair here.

Sort's essentially about two things: a result set and sort order. eBay has never really had an issue with its result set, which is actually the harder technical problem. It's always been generally fast (since it was limited to Title and Subtitle), and it didn't miss items that were spelled correctly. Etsy had an issue that their result sets would just miss stuff that they shouldn't have.

The issue that people have is with eBay's sort order. The sort order isn't a technical issue - Solr (or Lucene or Swish-E or Sphinx, which Dawdle.com uses). The issue is that people have disagreements with the business decisions that eBay has made as to what the default sort order should be.

Randy Smythe said...

Sachin,

You are correct but in reality it is what is actually served up to the user so the layman doesn't make that differentiation.

Best Match is the sort eBay applies to the search results and I should not have tied them together and re-inforced the notion that Best Match is search.

The reality is that the user believes it is because the end result of their query includes "Best Match"

For the record: My main disagreement with "Best Match" is that they are charging a listing fee and then burying your listing.

If listings were free, I wouldn't have a problem with "Best Match" in principal.

ms.pat said...

"For the record: My main disagreement with "Best Match" is that they are charging a listing fee and then burying your listing."

Exactly why Ebay is hemorrhaging sellers since they made best match the default sort! Still they stubbornly stick to the same thing. Bullying sellers - taking their fee money and NOT giving service! I believe even the creator of best match did not mean for it to be used the way Ebay is using it.

There are a lot of sellers out there who would throw a big big party if the "new ebay" collapsed!

ebuyerfb said...

"If listings were free, I wouldn't have a problem with "Best Match" in principal."

Exactly. I don't complain that my site gets buried for some keywords on Google but I have a problem when my featured plus auction on eBay is on page 17 minutes right before it ends.

On the other hand, it makes a good business opportunity for third party developers like me.

Anonymous said...

Best Match would be Ok if it actually WAS a best match. In reality, it's the worst match, because the shopper ends up with suggestions and listings that are irrelevant to what they were looking for. The old search was excellent. Why ebay would ruin it is beyond anyone's imagination.

Bless Etsy owners for having enough sense to invest in good programming. And for providing good communication with ALL of their sellers.