Hello and thanks for taking time to read this post.

Our organization is currently trying to improve the results we are receiving on the search engine we use on our Intranet. The challenge we currently face is that our associates need to quickly access information to our related products and services. We have a portion of our Intranet where we have these resources for our associates but it would be beneficial if they could use the search to quickly access the related resources they need.

Let me provide you with some information regarding the current state of the situation and some of the methods we have been toying with:

Systems
Netscape Enterprise Server 3.6 Search Engine
No vendor support because of the age of the product
Recently implemented IBM WebSphere Portal 5.1 and will be migrating content from our various lines of business into the new system over the next couple of years.
New WebSphere Portal search engine does index content in legacy system

Content
The content on our current Intranet is developed in Framesets. We use a Top frame where navigation is held and a bottom content frame. The navigational frame (top) links to anchors on primarily 1-3 bottom content pages, and other supporting resources on the Intranet.
Prior to our recent strategies, no or limited use of meta tags where being utilized.

Goal
Associate types 401(k) into the search engine and they are presented with the product page that has information regarding our 401(k) products at or very near to the top of the search results.

Problem
When an associate enters 401 (k) for example, the product page which is most relevant may not show up in the first 100-200 results. It varies based on the product they are searching for. Some have shown up in the top10-15. One of the problems is the frame issue. Often the bottom frame: /Products/401k/bottom.htm ranks significantly higher then the file: /Products/401k/index.htm. Therefore the associate gets to the page, but has no navigational elements.

What we’ve tried
Researched and implemented meta tags for keywords, descriptions, etc. – very limited success
Implemented meta tag: robots to tell the search engine not to index or follow certain pages – does not work
Utilized tag <noframes> on the index.htm page with keywords and descriptions within the tags. Essentially artificially “tricking” the search engine into thinking the index page is most relevant. – very limited success
Most recently we prototyped a new page design using a floating JavaScript menu at the top and got rid of the use of frames. – We are waiting on the engine to be re-indexed to see if this was effective.


How can you help?
I’m curious to know if anyone else has faced these challenges in organizations they work in or have worked with. Please provide any insight or tactics you have tried with failure or success. I’m looking for general recommendations and strategies to try. Part of the challenge is bridging the gap between the current system environment and the one we are moving into. Currently our associates must use the “old” search engine in the old Intranet environment. We are working to bring the “new” (WebSphere) search engine into the old Intranet via a Java Applet.

Please feel free to ask any additional questions or request more detailed information. I will be checking the board regularly for updates and information request. Thanks for you support and assistance.

Nicholas Kerzman