On April 19th we released a new version of site search for MSNBC.com built entirely on the MSN Search platform. This is a great improvement from our previous site search solutions and one we think that people will find really useful for searching news.
Take a peek at http://msnbc.msn.com and try searching for a few of the topics in the news like E3, gas prices or (my personal favorite) Britney Spears. To provide results we have taken advantage of both the news and web indexes. When something is current in the news you will find recent results in the top section of the first page. For topics that do not have any recent coverage on MSNBC we also provide results from our archive.
Implementation was pretty simple for our engineering team. We used the MSN Search API to retrieve a few different sets of data for each query we receive and then assemble them when rendering the results. We took advantage of some of the advanced query operators to scope the results right for news.
Each query uses a set of pre-defined operators to set the correct domain and allows us to filter the results a bit to return specific types of pages. Adding a few extra SearchTags to all of our pages allows us to do things such as return only stories and filter out category pages from the results. Also adding the path to a photo as a SearchTag enables us to add thumbnails to the results on the fly. If you have never heard of SearchTags you should definitely check out this post.
The end result of all of this is that it makes it much easier for us to add new features without having to totally change our whole application. For example will be able to easily add advanced search options in an upcoming release as all the functionality is already in place, we now just need the UI. We have just started down the path of making news search on MSNBC into a great experience and will continue to add features such as advanced search and photo search over the next couple of months.
We are reading every piece of feedback we receive so if you have any comments or feature suggestions just let us know:
— Kelly Amsbry, Product Manager
On behalf of the MSNSBC.com News team