Search is a problem that is never fixed. You can never fix search. Search is always refined and iterated over. It's one of the biggest problems that engineers need to face; and for these exact statements are why there are so many fascinating problems that you come across.
*TPT Quick Intro*
I will discuss briefly the context in which aspects of search I work on at Teachers Pay Teachers and give a bit of background on the company for reference to the problems that I will discuss in the following parts.
There are many problems that arise when you have a marketplace where ranking better in search means more sales. There is that competitiveness to reach the top of the search results for as many keywords as relevant as possible, but with that lens, that gives us, the folks providing these results, a tough time to provide quality results and not keyword-stuffed results or results that are overtagged with facets because people believe that such things will help them game the search system.
I will go through several examples of how our users try to do these things and our solutions to tackle these things.
*Supporting Technical Problems*
Not only are there problems that are uncovered from user behaviour, but also the technical problems that we have to solve to build out proper infrastructure and code to achieve fast indexing and relevant results. This section is a continuation of the theme of problems, but focusing on the technical aspect of problems we have solved with graceful degradation of our search system and also providing relevant results as fast as possible.
*Ranking Problems, Also Our Problems*
So not only have we worked on our search where we can control ranking algorithms, but we are also a company that wants to rank well on external search engines. For this next part I will discuss our own problems of SEO and trying to rank higher for more visibility through external search engines.
SEO is often overlooked for companies that are not in online media, but the market is there to gain more referrals and that is how we were able to improve our SERP presence and increase traffic to our site steadily for the passed three months.
*Conclusion & Closing Remarks*
Search is hard. No, really. This section is really just meant to wrap up all of the themes discussed in one conclusion. I will discuss some of the open questions and future things we would like to try with search and provide a bit of lessons learned on how we're constantly improving search.