Vertical Ranking| Hitchhikers Platform
What You’ll Learn
In this section, you will learn:
- How the Search algorithm ranks verticals
- What inputs influence vertical ranking
One of the most important and challenging aspects of search to get right is vertical ranking.
Vertical ranking is all about how we show different categories (or “verticals”) of content - e.g., FAQs, Locations, Help Articles, etc. - in the most helpful order to address the user’s search query. Getting vertical ranking right is hugely important to ensure users see the most relevant answers to their questions, and to achieve the highest levels of user engagement and ultimately, satisfaction.
To understand what excellent vertical ranking looks like, look no further than how Google ranks the many different categories of content in its results.
If you search visit the Eiffel Tower on Google, for example, you can see Google prioritizes links to official travel sites and an FAQ section with common questions. These are undoubtedly the best verticals to address the searcher’s intent with that question.
However, if you search Eiffel Tower wallpaper, Google recognizes that the best vertical to address your query is images, and now ranks results from their images vertical at the top of the results.
Google is able to do this very well with Links, Images, Maps, and all the other categories of content that they support. But how does Yext Search handle vertical ranking, when dealing with fully customizable verticals for each search experience? And as an administrator, what control do I have over how my search verticals are ranked?
This guide will provide a detailed explanation for both of these questions, and orient you on how to best set up and refine vertical ranking for your search experiences.
Vertical Ranking in Search
So how does vertical ranking work in Yext Search today? It works in a series of three (3) steps, which are performed in the few seconds between a search being placed, and the results being shown.
Step #1: Gather Clues
First, for each vertical returned in a search, the Search algorithm gathers clues that can be used to gauge how relevant that vertical is to the user’s search. For example, this might include things like:
- The name of the vertical
- Any filters applied on the vertical
- Fields from the top result of each vertical
- Any vertical intents provided in the configuration for that vertical (more on this later!)
Step #2: Generate Vertical Scores
Second, with all of these clues gathered for each vertical, Yext Search will then compare each clue semantically to the user’s query, meaning it will evaluate how “close” they are in meaning. This works very similarly to how Semantic Text Search works (in fact, they use the same machine learning model!)
After Yext Search has evaluated all of the clues for each vertical, each vertical will receive a score between 0 and 1, which indicates how relevant Yext Search thinks that vertical is to the user’s query.
Step #3: Rank!
Finally, with a score assigned to each vertical, Yext Search will simply rank each vertical based on that score.
This is also where two additional properties - Thresholds and Biases - come into play.
- Thresholds are minimum score requirements that a vertical must meet in order to be returned at all in the search results.
- Biases are adjustments you can make to the final score of each vertical, which determine the rank in which they appear. A positive bias will be added to the vertical score, and a negative bias will be subtracted.
You can set intents, thresholds, and biases in the Search configuration for each vertical, and they allow you to influence the final ranking of verticals. We will discuss these properties and how to best use them, in the Vertical Intents, Biases & Thresholds unit in the Core Configuration - Verticals module.