New LDS.org Search Harnesses Power of Google
Contributed By By Camille West, LDS.org News and Events
If you gave up using the search engine on LDS.org a long time ago, it’s time to try it again.
The Church has revamped the search function and features to include Google’s powerful search technology, harnessing its signature ability to find relevant information.
The change has increased the use of LDS.org search by 61 percent since its introduction three months ago, and users are reporting that it is much easier to locate Church resources they need for callings, personal study, and teaching at home or church.
“If it’s on LDS.org and you can find it using Google search, you can now find it using the LDS.org search,” said Mark Ward, senior product manager for LDS.org search. “The results will be the same.”
All Church Websites
The search engine doesn’t just search LDS.org, however. It will also search through content on more than 20 other official Church websites such as mormon.org or josephsmithpapers.org. This is no small accomplishment considering LDS.org alone is the world’s largest religious website with more than 32 million unique visitors looking at 735 million pages annually.
Official, Safe Content
The new search provides a more safe and Church-specific search experience than Google, said Brother Ward. When you search from Google’s website, the results you get back may or may not be official content, he explained. Some results might be links to members’ personal blogs or even anti-Church sites.
The LDS.org search, however, only returns links to official Church-approved content that is currently available on LDS.org and other Church websites. And even though Google’s technology is used, no user information is provided back to Google. “It provides a safe, private, shock-free environment to search for approved gospel resources,” said Brother Ward.
In other words, parents won’t need to worry that they or their children might stumble onto inappropriate content listed in other search engine results.
Plus, LDS.org search understands word usage unique to the Church, said David Crockett, project manager for search. “It recognizes that the word friend is also a magazine, and Monson is referring to the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson,” he said. That’s something Google and other search engines can’t do as well.
“The new LDS.org search really combines the best of both worlds,” said Brother Ward.
Multiple Search Options
To use the search engine, locate the search box at the top of any LDS.org page, or go to search.lds.org.
If you know the content you’re searching for is from general conference, you can either include the words “general conference” in the search bar, select “General Conference” from the list of categories on the left, or go to the General Conference page and use the search bar there.
Organized by Categories
A new feature of LDS.org search not typically found in other search engines is the grouping of results into categories: general conference, broadcasts, magazines, manuals, images, videos, scriptures, music, news and events, topics, Church websites, and people. This makes preparing talks and lessons easier when you can see the different categories of content that are available.
Images in Results
Many results include an image, which provides a visual cue to what the content is, making it easier for you to quickly spot the content you’re looking for.
One helpful feature Google users will recognize is auto-complete. As you type, a screen pops up with suggested phrases that other people have frequently entered. “It makes it even easier to narrow down your searches,” said Brother Ward.
Built-In Advanced Search Features
One feature you may notice is missing is advanced search. That is because many of the advanced search capabilities most users want are now built in to the basic search function, said Brother Ward.
For example, if you want to find talks or articles by President Thomas S. Monson on faith published in the Ensign magazine during 2012, simply enter the words Monson faith ensign 2012 into the search bar. The first set of results you’ll see are broad, Google-like results. The results that follow are grouped into categories.
Any time you want to refine your search, simply click on a category to the left of the search results.
Some serious researchers may still miss some of the advanced search functions, such as date ranges, but these features may be included in future releases of LDS.org search, Brother Ward said.
More Search Helps
Search tips have been added to lds.org/search to help you learn how to make your searches on LDS.org the most productive. One tip is to enclose exact phrases you’re searching for in quotation marks. This tells the search engine to search for content containing that exact phrase, not just the separate words. Select “Read More” to find a help page with video tutorials.
“Play around with it,” Brother Crockett encouraged. “We think you’ll find there’s a big improvement in being able to find what you need.”