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Is Your Blog Search Lijit [REVIEW]

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Search on blogs is a relatively simple concept. You type in a few keywords related to a post and results are presented to you that are local to that blog. However, what if you could extend the functionality of the search function to go beyond your blog to cover the videos you have published on YouTube, your Twitter account, bookmarks, network of friends, and the blogs you read in your RSS reader? That’s exactly what  Lijit enables you to do.

Company Info:

Lijit is based out of Boulder, CO which is a surprise to many considering silicon valley is typically the home for most Internet based businesses. Using the power of people, their content, and their connections, Lijit aims to enhance the way your readers search for and discover information on the Internet. You serve as a filter for all of the results your readers could possibly receive, ensuring they only receive the most relevant results from the source they trust. That source being you.

Signing Up And Configuration:

Before we get things underway, be prepared to spend 15-30 minutes to not only create an account but also to configure the search widget. The first thing you’ll need to do is submit your blogs URL. Once you provide the URL, the next configuration page has a list of services that are grouped by purpose. For each site/service that you have an account with, you’ll need to tell Lijit what your user name is for that service. If you have an account with a site that is not listed, Lijit does provide an option for you to provide a link to a URL, RSS, or OPML feed which will be added into the search results.

Lijit Network

Once that is done, the next page is all about adding your network to your  account. This network consists of your MyBlogLog account, the blogs you read, your blogroll, del.icio.us, Lijit users etc. This extended network is also added to your Lijit search engine.

The third configuration page is where you get to create your user account. After you create your account, Lijit will take all of the information you provided and mash it all together into a personalized search engine. After your search engine is created, you’ll have a chance to configure the look and feel of the search widget so it looks good within your blog theme. Customization options include choosing widget styles, color palettes, logo colors, choosing what is displayed such as content icons or popular searches within a cloud and re-search.

Re-search is described by Lijit as:

When a search brings someone to your blog, Lijit’s Re-Search feature takes the query they used, re-performs that search through your Lijit search engine (hence the name “Re-Search”), and shows the top few results in a special display on your blog. You can pick the display location — either at the top of your blog or just above your Lijit Search Wijit.

On your stats page, Lijit shows the number of times Re-Search has been displayed in the “Number of Searches” bar graph and in the “Stats Summary” box. (Note that if you have Re-Search disabled, we’ll still show the data, but label it as “potential Re-Searches” so you can see what you missed!)

Installing The Widget:

Lijit supports TypePad and WordsPress out of the box. For sites such as Tumblr, LiveJournal, etc, there is a piece of javascript that can be used to install the widget on your blog. Considering my personal blog is WordPress based, you know which I one I chose. Lijit provides a WordPress plugin which is installed like any other plugin. Simply unzip the file, upload it to your WordPress plugin directory and activate it. Then guess what. You have to log into your WordPress administration panel and perform some more configuration options.

Lijit Plugin Settings

Thankfully, configuring the widget is a pretty simple process. One of the cool features of the plugin is that, you can choose to either use the standard Lijit Widget which appears in your blogs sidebar or you can substitute the WordPress search function with the Lijit search.

Service In Use:

After all is said and done, take a look at your blogs front page and perform a search via the Lijit search box. A Light-box style window should pop up which displays the results. It’s pretty easy to see how Lijit is monetizing the service as they have ads served by Google on the right hand side as well as above the search results.

Lijit Search

The search result window provides at least four different tabs from which to perform a search query. By default, the blog url is searched. However, users can choose to search via your content, network, or the web itself. Of course, if people were going to search the web, I’d think they would do that from the Google Homepage.

After performing a few test search queries, I found the search results to be pretty accurate. One of the cooler features found within the search results is that, there is a link underneath each result that is labeled “What’s The Connection“. Upon clicking on the link, you’ll see how the result is connected to the search engine. A great feature to have, especially when visitors are performing searches through the Content or Network tabs.

If you feel unsatisfied with the results that Lijit provides, there is a link at the bottom of the page which takes you to the their feedback page. The topic is automatically filled in with what you were searching for enabling the team to focus their efforts on that specific search query for your domain.

Stats:

One nice thing about Lijit that the default WordPress search bar doesn’t do is give you statistics. Lijit provides an entire area for statistics that is tied to your account. You can track how many searches are performed on your blog, the keywords that were searched, total searches, geographical location, page views, your exposure and much more.

Lijit Stats

In fact, the exposure tab actually notified me of people that were linking to me that I didn’t know about previous to using the service. Although in at least one case, Lijit picked up on some links that were old and when clicking on the pages that supposedly had a link to my blog, I received a 404 error.

Conclusion:

I’ve seen a number of big name blogs using Lijit for quite some time now, including this one. In my opinion, Lijit has two killer features wrapped in one. The first being control. End users are in control of what appears in their search engine which leads me to feature number two. The ability to create a personalized search engine that only taps into your blog content, but can be customized to search all of the content you have produced on other sites/services across the web. On top of that, you can then add blogs that you read and or trust to your search engine which is then used by your readers. Hopefully, other people have added your own blog to their personalized Lijit search as this all means there is a possibility of receiving traffic not only from Google, but from personalized Lijit search engines as well.

If there was one thing I don’t like about the service it would be the way in which search results are displayed. Instead of the search result shown in a window that seems like a popup, I would much rather have the results displayed as if they were natural to my blog. For instance, I’d love it if they provided a way for me to add a bit of code to my WordPress themes search result template page. Not sure how difficult that would be, but at least the results would look natural. Other than that, I can easily see why some of the biggest names in blogging are using Lijit.

Things To Look Forward To:

During the course of this review, I was able to get in touch with Micah Baldwin who is VP of Business Development and he gave me the lowdown on some things that Lijit is working on behind the scenes.

  • additional content sources (that can be added to a publisher’s results);
  • further control over look and feel of results (providing publishers more ways to integrate Lijit search results into their publications);
  • some new “bling” to the results themselves (meaning more information attached to individual results, like thumbnails, etc);
  • more ways for publishers to derive revenue from their search results;
  • greater opportunities for advertisers to create relationships with the right publishers;
  • continued measurement of the influence of publishers, and the ability to present that measurement to readers.

Basically, we are focused on: constantly making Lijit search results unique and representative of the publisher; increasing publisher pageviews and reader engagement; and optimizing the ability of publishers to generate revenue from a forgotten or under- monetized area of their publication.

The future looks bright for Lijit. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you currently use Lijit on your own blog and if you prefer it over the default search engine that comes with your publishing software of choice.

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Comments

  1. I’m very much a fan of lijit and use it on Technotheory. It was easy to setup (I found the process kind of fun), but I did it a while ago and it looks like there are some new features now. I think I’m going to revisit my lijit config and give its search more prominence on my blog, since I think it’d be more useful now both for my readers and my understanding of their browsing habits.

    Thanks for the write-up, Jeff!

  2. Tumblemoose says:

    Well, what can I say? Thanks for the review on this. Now I’ve got a project to do today after the turkey and stuffing have been put away.

    I like the reporting aspect of this and I like the consolidation. Sometimes I feel Tumblemoose is scattered the four ways of the wind, not unlike a tumbleweed!

    Cheers

    George

  3. WOW that is pretty awesome. I did try Lijit once, just because you were using it here on Problogger. But I was not satisfied at all. But also I did not knew they had this many features. All these certainly increase your reputation in other popular websites and bring more page views to your blog. This is a great tool with a lot of awesome features. Can you tell me, are these recently added features or Lijit had them since the get go.

    Regards: rizzy81
    http://twitter.com/rizzy81

  4. Great review Jeff! Lately I’m seeing you everywhere I turn :-)

    I’m working on some big changes to a couple of my sites and I’m going to consider adding this to them.

  5. Wow, so many things could be done with it, I never even knew. Thank you.

  6. You just convinced me to use it…Never knew all these things.

  7. jhay says:

    Nice breakdown of what Lijit is and how it works. Now I’m going back to my account and seriously allot more time in putting the code on my blog.

  8. Thanks for this much needed review Jeff. IMHO, Lijit doesn’t do as good a job explaining their benefits as you just did. I am now planning my task of integrating it into some of our sites.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  9. Jeff, great overview of Lijit. (obviously) I think we have a pretty cool tool for publishers.

    You mentioned the ability to have our results integrated into your WordPress theme. We are working to provide iframed results (that dont suck) in an upcoming release and hopefully ways to extend our WordPress plugin to offer additional functionality.

    Given the readers of this blog, here are a couple of interesting facts:

    1) When you use the popular search cloud, a publisher will see (depending on type) anywhere from 3x – 8x the number of searches performed.

    2) When using re-search, if it is placed at the bottom of a post, many publishers see a 1 – 2.5% click through rate.

    So far, it appears that the ads in Lijit search results get above a 3% click through rate, and appear more often (meaning the search results that have ads are greater) than Google (~40% for GOOG to almost 50% for Lijit) Which, we think, will mean more money for our publishers over time as we continue to roll out monetization benefits.

    3) Most publishers dont care about their search, either having no search or leaving their default search. Its obvious given our research, that not only are those publishers missing an important reader function, but also a highly effective tool for improving their writing, revenue and publication.

    If any of your readers have any questions, they should contact me directly at micah [at] lijit [dot] com, or on twitter @micah.

  10. Jeffro2pt0 says:

    @/strong>Kim: Thanks Kim. I hope you’re not overdosing on my content heh. Lijit is definitely based around a cool idea.

  11. Robert Barr says:

    I have reviewed it many times on my blog trying to give Lejit the benefit of the doubt and it is consistently buggy. It is so bad, that I opted for the WordPress search!

  12. Robert Barr says:

    Sorry, lijit!!!!

  13. Shafar says:

    Great information about Lijit.Com! Visited their site, but not joining now. Hopefully, I’ll do it after one month!

  14. العاب says:

    Just one more great post . Thank you Darren .

  15. Ann says:

    As a website visitor, I loathe Lijit so I just go and do a Google search on blogs that insist on using it. The display of the search results is the turn off for me. The inexplicable amount of white space makes the results unreadable and unusable for me on a small screen (12″, less with a sidebar open in the browser).

    Their interface also has usability issues that can take users to a dead end that forces them to close the page in order to get out of it (the last thing I want people to do when they visit my site). I found that with the ‘explore’ icon under search boxes does that (which isn’t displayed here so there must be several options for displaying the search box).

    Interesting idea but not accessible enough to users for me to put on my site. If they resolve those issues I might consider it in the future.

  16. My IE 7 and 8 viewers had no access to my site when I enabled Lijit. I think it has something to do with the widget’s code and cookie generation, so I don’t use it. All in all, I could see how it would be a valuable service, but I’m not a big fan for the time I used it.

  17. @corey – would you mind sending me (micah [at] lijit [dot] com) your username? I know we spend a lot of time trying to make sure that Lijit works in all browsers and it would be great to figure out why it doesnt work with yours…

  18. I’ve been using Lijit for about a month now (since seeing it here!) and I just love it!

    Looking forward to the updates!

  19. Maria says:

    I was contacted by Tara, one of Lijit’s community evangelists about putting it on my blog and I’m so glad I did. She helped me configure it correctly and ensure that I was getting the best results possible.

    The control and the results are so much better than regular wordpress search and although I don’t use the stats, I do use the search bar myself pretty often and I will never willingly go back to the regular version.

    The popup/lightroom-esque results took some getting used to, but now I prefer them, since you don’t have to load another page to find what you’re looking for.

    I highly recommend it, and do so pretty often.

  20. Kimota says:

    Yup, I installed Lijit on my blog a month ago and it just makes more sense. It was the re-Search feature that grabbed me – the ability to offer up other relevant content to those coming to a page from the search engines. As a tool for increasing page views and time on site, that is a brilliant device.

  21. mike says:

    It is amazing how the internet keeps growning like this. What will they think of next.

  22. Lijit is great I`ve seen it on quite a few blogs, the thing is the search results window loads pretty slow..

  23. Ganesh says:

    I have heard about Lijit before but I have never tried it out. Maybe I’ll do it soon.

  24. Team Nirvana says:

    Nice tool to get to work around with.

    Thanks for sharing it with us Jeff.

    Will try it out and see how efficient would it be on my blog.

  25. Rahul says:

    I was quite aware of this website, but wasn’t that much interested in it. Didn’t know so many things could be done and that too with much ease with it. Thanks for the info Darren.

  26. Carrie says:

    It’s kind of like FriendFeed only more interactive.

  27. Harish says:

    I am always keen to browse through many blog.This would help me out a lot in it.Thanks for mentioning it

  28. David Risley says:

    Lijit is nice, although I dropped it awhile ago because I didn’t like the fact that the search results had to show up in a pop-up layer. It made the searches very slow and it was’t worth it. Perhaps they’ve changed it since then – I don’t know.

    I like Google search for my largest blog. You can’t beat Google for search, plus you can make a little money with your searches, too. Integrates right with your blog.

  29. I’ve been using Lijit on multiple blogs for months now and it’s probably the best widget I’ve ever installed. I love those guys! :)

  30. This is the first I have heard of this. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to go give it a try.

  31. Darren,

    We met at BlogWorld Expo 2008, at the Market Leverage Dinner at Envy Steakhouse. ( I was the video guy bumping into everyone dashing to the next taping with my hand-truck video studio).

    I have been using Lijit for three months on all of my blogs. It’s really amazing to see how far away some readers live and found my blog(s) now totaling nine (!)

    Planning a massive donation launch next week, Beneficiaries? KIDS! More to come…

    Respectfully,

    Nicholas Chase – ‘the video guy’ at BlogWorld Expo 2008

  32. I’ve been using Lijit for quite a while now — over a year, I think. I’ve found it especially useful because I have several blogs — and I can hardly remember what I’ve written on where, let alone direct readers to the right page.

  33. Barney Moran says:

    This is a good revue of Lijit features, and the followup thread comments are informative. It seems for Publishers not concerned about revenue or re-use of their content, Lijit is one workable option as long as their company is viable and the Publisher can make the switch to an established company (i.e. Google) if they not one day in this economy, easily.

    For other Publishers, (revenue/content use) the next step is getting transparency from revenue based companies like Lijit & Google on their actual revenue vs. the % the Publisher may or may not get, and use of our content when we decide to use either.
    P.U.B. has a short F.A.Q. on the Lijit issue on http://blogpublishersunion.blogspot.com/.

  34. KCLau says:

    no harm giving it a try

  35. jennifer says:

    Hi Darren
    After reading this post I put Lijit on my blog – thank you for the tip. One question though – on your blog when a user does a search, adsense doesn’t appear at the top of the search. On other blogs (including mine) it does.
    Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’ve noticed ads like “pretty asian ladies”. Frankly, pimping has never been an interest of mine, nor do I really want my readers seeing ads like that when searching my site.
    So how did you turn the adsense off?

  36. Jennifer, could you send your username to [email protected] and we can take a look as to why you are getting strange ads. (can you also send the keywords you were doing to return that result?)

    Lijit’s revenue model is much like Google’s, we make a bit of money when our publishers make revenue through advertisement, so, for now, you cannot turn the adsense off.

    We do have an extensive keyword filter to not return ads like the aforementioned.

  37. David says:

    Lijit is easy to install and its statistics are useful. I have used it for sometime. However, I have a concern. Is it acceptable by Google if I have Lijit Search running on the same page with Google Search and/or Google Adsense? Probably this is a concern for those people publishing Adsense to make money online.

  38. @David,

    In all the discussions we have had with Google, there appears to be no issue with running multiple search widgets (a google one and a Lijit one).

    Also, Lijit now allows publishers to price and (soon) sell their own ad inventory, plus we use about a dozen ad networks to display the ads within the results pages.

    If you have further concern, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]

  39. Albert says:

    @Jeff Chandler : I’m using this Lijit Search widget in my blog http://www.sarugu.com.

    I want to create separate Search Widget for every blogs. Is there any possibility to add separate search widget for every blogs?

    or

    Can I create new account for every blogs?

  40. @Albert you can create an account for each blog if you want.

  41. Albert says:

    @ Micah Baldwin : Thanks fro your reply. I’m on the way to setup Lijit Search Boxes for all of my blogs.

  42. GreenLava says:

    Could somebody help me?
    How do I block my own visits from showing up in Recent visitors tab.
    Thanks