Neil's News

Search Highlighter

2 August 2003

Google's great. But the moment you click a link on the results page, you leave Google and things become less great. For one thing, you're often dumped into a long boring page which (according to Google) has your search phrase buried in it somewhere. You either have to find it, or retreat back to Google and use the cache.

The Search Highlighter allows webmasters to solve this problem. It is a server-side extension for Apache which detects incoming Google searches then adds appropriate highlighting to the page. It even scrolls the page down to the first match. Visitors to the site can instantly see what they came to find. It also works just as well with AltaVista, AllTheWeb, and many other internal and external search engines.

This is arguably the most useful program I've yet written. I'm confident that nobody has done this before since this approach was impossible until I got some Apache bugs fixed last week.

Update: I've fixed a fatal bug which used to cause the highlighter to crash if it encountered highly illegal HTML. I've also added support for the Lycos, AOL, HotBot and Netscape search engines.

Another update: A bug which made the highlighter allergic to rogue CR characters has been fixed.

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