I’ve been talking to various people recently, both by e-mail and at the Mini Google Group, who want to use a Mini for things it really isn’t suited for, so hopefully this will be helpful:
What the Google Mini is good at
It is very good at searching through lots of unstructured information, and finding the document (page) that best matches what you are searching for.
So, it is good for searching all your old sales documents on your intranet, to find the reference you made to ‘Singing badgers’
Or it’s good at searching all the articles on your website, for all the ‘orange-spotted tapirs’ that you have written medical items on.
What the Google Mini is not good at
It is not good at comparing pages for specific pieces of information, or for sorting by anything except relevancy or date the page was made.
For instance, if you have a large database with hundreds of products in, and you want to compare the prices of three or four of them, the Mini (and GSA) cannot do this. You need to change your shop so you can run comparisons using your standard database information.
Although you can put price or other information in to the Mini search results by having special meta tags on your product pages, it cannot sort the search results by anything except the standard relevancy, or by the date the page was last changed and spidered. You cannot force it in to sorting by price, or any other detail. If you want this, you need to update the search on your current database so it will sort by the price field in the SQL query.
If your shop search is working very slowly, try looking at:
- Setting up indexes in the database to cover the most searched on fields
- Upgrading your database (i.e. if you’re using Access, look at moving to MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server.)
- Talk to your host about either moving to a higher grade of server, so the database runs more quickly, or upgrading to have a separate database server which is good enough to handle the load your website is putting on it.
The Mini is a good product, but it’s made for a particular set of circumstances, it would be a waste of money to buy it to do something it’s really not built to do, when you could use the same money elsewhere to get a proper solution.