St. Mary’s University: Powering Search Across Multiple Domains

    CROSS-DOMAIN SEARCH

    Elastic Site Search delivered on St. Mary’s University need of a a single solution that could span numerous websites across multiple domains, was easily customizable, and was capable of returning relevant results.

    BETTER CONTROL OVER RESULTS

    Site Search provided the ability to change the content to match the searcher’s intentions, such as returning results for “dorms” when a user searches for “residence halls.”

    CONTINUOUS OVERSIGHT

    St. Mary’s uses the built in analytics dashboard from Site Search to regularly monitor search activity and rapidly update and customize results.

    Company Overview

    St. Mary's University is a private, Catholic Marianist University in San Antonio, Texas, offering both undergraduate and graduate programs.

    St. Mary’s Journey with Elastic

    CROSS-DOMAIN SEARCH LACKING

    While St. Mary’s University had been growing and adding many new websites in recent years — both internal and public-facing — they realized they had to address the problem of how to search across all these sites. They needed a single search solution that could span numerous websites across multiple domains, was easily customizable, and was capable of returning relevant results.

    EASY OPTIMIZATION TO DELIVER PERTINENT RESULTS

    The ability to easily customize results to improve search efficiency led St. Mary’s to choose Elastic Site Search. “After implementing [Site Search], users no longer need to sift through thousands of pages and documents indexed across multiple sites — they just need the top handful of results,” according to Elaine Shannon, Web Developer & User Interface Specialist at St. Mary’s.

    Another important factor for St. Mary’s was the desire to gain better control over search results. Shannon explains, “We can’t always change our content to match searchers’ intentions — for example, we don’t call our residence halls “dorms” — so being able to set up synonyms and custom result sets, at an affordable price, sold us on Elastic Site Search.”

    Before Elastic Site Search, the school’s programs page consisted of a long, overwhelming list of programs that was difficult to navigate, and visitors quickly left the page. To assist students with choosing different program options, St. Mary’s used Elastic Site Search to build a dedicated search tool linking interests to related programs. Now the school’s program page offers a variety of search options — by interest, program, degree, or school. According to Shannon, 34% of visitors are now using the Search by Interest tool and are immediately finding what they’re looking for.

    SUPPORTING PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

    It’s a long sales cycle for prospective students at St. Mary’s — they’ll visit the school’s websites multiple times before they decide to apply for admission. “We know that registering for a campus visit is a high indicator of a user’s likelihood to apply,” says Shannon, “and we can track those metrics and how Site Search has impacted them to date.”

    CONTINUOUS OVERSIGHT AND FINE TUNING

    Elaine Shannon and team use the Elastic Site Search out-of-the-box dashboard to regularly monitor search activity and rapidly update and customize results for the most popular queries to help maintain a positive visitor experience. She also builds out content, as needed, for empty search results. Search is now one of the most popular ways to navigate the St. Mary’s website and Shannon regularly receives positive feedback on the search tools.

    “Now that we’ve had more than a year to tweak results, we’ve found a good balance and are serving our visitors more relevant results, which keeps them on the site longer,” Shannon explains.