Understand the what, why, and how of each search result

Explain helps you understand what’s happening in your search experience. Get insights into Empathy Platform's ranking algorithm and unveil how product scoring determines product positioning on the search engine results page (SERP).


Why are search results ordered in the way they are on the SERP? Why is a product in a certain position or why is it positioned higher than other similar products? Understanding product scores and the factors that contribute to product ranking, such as catalogue definition, business rules, or your shoppers’ collective behavior (wisdom of the crowd), helps you act to show relevant results at all times.


For more information on how products are ranked on the results page and the criteria used to calculate product scores, see Product scoring.

Explaining the what, why, and how

You can use Explain in different ways to enhance product relevancy in your commerce store:

Understand how products are scored

Empathy Platform supports multiple complex search configurations that can affect product ranking. For example, you may want to apply different business criteria in addition to the standard weighthing set for the product catalogue using Equalize. The more configurations you make, the harder it's to guess what happens when these changes are combined, and how they impact the order of search results.

With Explain, you can launch a specific query and get almost real-time search results with detailed information on each individual product score and the scoring criteria that are applied for the query. Top search results are listed in descending order of relevance according to the overall score. Play with the bar chart and the results grid to see product scores for each product, broken down by scoring criteria in the product score panel. For example, for the query "T-shirt", you have multiple results for Brands A, B, and C. You use Explain to see that all T-shirts have the same product score. However, one Brand B T-shirt appears first in the bar chart and the results grid as it has been boosted for the period. At the same time, Brand C has 10 T-shirts that appear at the end of the first page of results, since they were the last to be indexed into the product catalogue.

Compare products

If you can’t understand why a product is listed in a higher position compared to another for a specific query, you can compare multiple products at once to get a better idea of what’s happening in terms of product ranking.

Take the same example as before, where you have results for Brand A, B, and C. You want to understand why the Brand C T-shirts appear in a specific order. You use Explain to compare the position of one product against another. You click on Brand C red T-shirt and Brand C green T-shirt to see why they have been ordered as first red and then green. Brand C red T-shirt has a higher product score due to the wisdom of the crowd points, so it's placed first; Brand C green T-shirt has a lower dynamic relevance score compared to the red T-shirt, so it appears next.

Take action on what you see

Once you understand how product scores determine product ranking, you can make better decisions to optimize search results. Take advantage of the information you see in Explain to determine whether any improvements need to be made to meet your business needs and intention. For example, check whether a specific product needs to be boosted or buried, the weighting of product attributes needs to be adjusted according to your business goals, or a group of products needs to be promoted on the results page based on their product attributes.

To start optimizing search results, take into account the scoring criteria that impact products' organic ranking. Optimize tools in Explain let you directly access the Empathy Platform Playboard tooling so you can instantly take action to improve product relevancy.

For example, you want to promote all Brand C T-shirts. You click on the Query Ranking option in the Optimize tools in Explain, and create a boost for the Brand C attribute for the query "T-shirt". Now you use Explain to view the new product scores for Brand C products and see how the Brand C red and green T-shirts have changed position in the bar chart and the results grid, and have a new overall score thanks to the business rules points.

Spot the difference

Product ranking is associated with the order in which products appear on the SERP according to the product's search relevance (i.e. how the product matches the search query in terms of catalogue definition, business rules, and wisdom of the crowd). Shoppers can choose to change the order in which products appear by using the Sorting option to arrange search results as they like (e.g. by popularity, price, newest first, or top products). Product sorting overrides any product ranking criteria defined. All catalogue rules, boosts, custom configurations, etc. are ignored in favor of the shopper's sorting option.

Try Explain to…

  • Gain insight into product ranking and understand what’s happening behind each search result in almost real time.
  • Learn how product scores are calculated.
  • Compare product scores for different products.
  • Deeply understand your product catalogue and how its structure impacts product ranking.
  • Increase conversion rates by making informed improvements on product relevancy. Reduce the distance between your product catalogue and shopper expectations.


Ready to start using Explain? Read Understand search results using Explain.


See what Raquel Bernard has to say about Explain in Explain Tool: Understanding your search results (opens new window).

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