The Sooqr Secret Sauce — Or: How does Sooqr actually work?
Earlier this year, McDonald’s sold the BigMac “Secret Sauce” in bottles for the first time, including a detailed list of its ingredients. Before this, the sauce ingredients and recipe were kept a secret. The sauce is said to be delivered to franchises in sealed containers. Employees in the know about the sauce ingredients are even said to have signed non-disclosure agreements to keep them from revealing the secret ingredient list.
Here at Sooqr, it doesn’t take an NDA to keep the sharp minds that are behind our search technology from talking. They prefer developing new features and functionalities… rather than talking about them.
But we’ve been able to hunt down our lead developer, who has revealed some of the main ingredients that make up the Sooqr Secret Sauce. Curious? Take a look:
And there you have it, the main ingredients of the Sooqr Secret Sauce recipe.
You’re saying this isn’t 100% clear to you? Don’t worry, we have you covered! Let’s take a close look at the ingredients, at how the Sooqr search engine works. How does it ensure your searchers always find what they’re looking for on your website within milliseconds? And that the most relevant results appear at the top of the results list?
The main ingredient: Sooqr Standard Rank
Sooqr’s standard relevance is based on several different ingredients. The total of these ingredients forms the Sooqr Standard Rank. This is a score that is purely based on the content within your document, in particular:
- Number of terms in the document
- The frequency of terms in the document
- The infrequency of terms in other documents
- Query field boosts
- Length of the document
The Sooqr Standard Rank can be a number running from 0 to X, and it’s influenced by your content, settings, and optimizations. Content is the most important influence factor to relevance. If a document is not relevant to the query, it might not end up near the top of the results list, despite it having been boosted.
1. Search fields
Within your MySooqr conversion cockpit you can assign boost factors to your search fields. With these factors you’re letting the system know which fields have relatively higher importance than other fields. Let’s look at an example. We’re seeing 3 documents below for which you have the title boosted with a factor of 1.0 and the description field with a factor of 0.5. You’re telling Sooqr that your title fields are more important than your description fields when it comes to matching your documents to the search query.
If your user now types in the query “shoes”, he/she will get the following results:
- Document 2 (1.0 + 0.5 = 1.5)
- Document 1 (1.0)
- Document 3 (0.5)
2. Ranking Rules
With Ranking Rules, you can add additional scores to the Sooqr Standard Rank of documents, letting the Sooqr Search engine know which products you really want to see on top of the result lists (e.g. because they are your housebrand or your high-margin products).
It’s important to stress though that these are only additional scores, meaning that your document content is still king. If a document’s content is not relevant to a query, a Ranking Rule will not overwrite that, and the other way around: if one of your documents is very relevant to a query, it still shows up in the results, even though you have demoted it with a Ranking Rule. It will simply show further down in the results list.
Sooqr’s search result re-ranker powered by machine learning works very similar to a Ranking Rule: It adds scores to the Sooqr Standard Rank based on number of clicks. The algorithm learns which products are clicked on most for each query and adds respective scores. As you can see, relevance is still king when you have clickrank enabled (as scores are simply added).
However, we’re taking things to the next level here, as besides turning on clickrank, you don’t have to do anything, and you’re even able to cater to seasonalities. Let’s take a look again at an example: Different kinds of leather jackets could have the same document relevance for the search term “leather jackets” in your Sooqr account. With the help of Clickrank though, you’ll automatically be showing summer leather jackets towards the top of the results in the summer and warmer jackets in the winter, as people tend to click on those items more during those seasons.
4. Push Words
Push words will boost the document they are connected to with a factor 10, and an item will end up on top of the result list when the push word is used as a query. Multiple push words can be added to an item. Push words can also be added to multiple items. In that case, regular ranking will decide what item will be shown first.
A document has to have some sort of relevance before it can be boosted. When a visitor is searching for “dog”, but “dog” is not in the document, a boost will have no effect.
This is what push words look like in our sauce code:
4. Field Boosting
Under ‘sorting’ in your MySooqr conversion cockpit you’ll find the option for “Field boosting”. This allows you to use a value from an attribute in a document as a boost. Field boosting is relative to the Standard Sooqr Rank.
Not everyone loves the BigMac sauce. But it’s not like you could walk up to McDonald’s and request new ingredients. And that’s the big difference between us here at Sooqr and McDonald’s (besides a few other, small ones maybe)!
We are committed to constantly improve our Sooqr Sauce, to offer you and your customers the most optimized onsite search experience.
Are there any ingredients that you’re currently missing? Please let us know! Our chefs, I mean search technology experts, thrive to improve our Sooqr search engine every day, and I invite you to become a part of it. Simply let us know by sending us an email to [email protected]. We’re very much looking forward to hearing from you. Of course also always feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.