Scanning the Gamers.com search logs from May to July 2000,
Here's what I learned:
By and large people are using the Gamers.com search engine to search for specific games, with a few notable exceptions.
- People want game resources for non-specific games.
- "cheats" is the number four search request on our site (even without counting stuff like "nintendo 64 cheats" or "game shark codes psx")
- "codes" is number eleven
- "downloads" is thirty-one
- "games" is thirty-four
- "demos" is forty-ninth
- "walkthrough" is 163rd
- People want help
- "how do i change my graphic"
- "how to change password"
- "register new login name"
- "account" and "login"
- People want message boards
- Reading Gamers.com search logs, it seems as though fully a fifth of the searches performed by registered users are for message boards.
- Generic searches for "message board[s]" rank 108, not including stuff like "psx message boards" or "the anime channel"
- There are hundreds of searches for clans and their message boards. Searching "rat clan" on Gamers.com does nothing - searching for it in the message boards yeilds a clan message board.
- People want random stuff
- "psx golf games"
- "tile games for mac"
- "upcoming games"
- "firing squad"
- "playboy mansion"
We have the content these people are seeking. But our search results are the bare minimum:
"Didn't find what you're looking for? Search again:"
These will help users without requiring additional work on the structure of the site. Consider these short term solutions until more powerful models of search can be explored.
- More responsive "No Results" page
- Include a gamers.com search box, a message board search box, and a list of the top ten searches (see asdfjkl search results example page)
- More special cases:
- For these types of data where people are searching and we don't have a way to give them results in the immediate future of the site, we should return special case pages (see Cheats results sample page)
- Message Boards
- If these words appear in a search request, the search request should be routed through the Message Board search:
clan, board, messageboard, message board, discussion, chat, community, communities
- If these words appear in a search request, the search request should be routed to the site FAQ - http://www.gamers.com/s/help/index
help, how [as the first word], profile, login, account,password, delete, deleting
- Besides "Thresh" (which is popular) there are a number of searches for "Hodgson" "Justin Hall" "Dan Shoe Hsu" - we could route those searches to staff bio pages, or even better, work on a way that users can find features and news articles by author (like Slate.com).
- More powerful/flexible search results
- Sort game title, platform, release date and user rating into columns that can be sorted (see Tomb Raider example page)
- In-Line User Search Modifications:
- Users are trying to focus their searches. If a game name appears with a platform or platform abbreviation, we should bring the user to that specific game page under that specific platform. Example, "deus ex pc" or "pc warcraft 3" (right now a search for "deus ex pc" returns "Sorry no results for 'deus ex pc'")
- If there are multiple results, limit the search to the platform specified - "tony hawk psx," "final fantasy pc" or "mario n64"