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Understand search results using Explain

Explain is the Empathy Platform Playboard tool used to visualize how product scoring determines the order of products on the search engine results page (SERP).

The Explain landing page has a mandatory filter section to narrow down your experience and a search box to enter the query you want to consult. The landing page also shows an animation that summarizes how the product score is determined by the different scoring criteria.

At the bottom, you see the clickable bubbles which represent the top search queries within the last 15 minutes. Click one of them to quickly understand how product results are ranked on the SERP for the query selected.


For more information on the Explain feature, see Understand product scoring & ranking with Explain and the Explain feature whitepaper (opens new window) (opens a new window).

Getting started with Explain

Once you have applied the filters and entered a query on the Explain landing page, the main screen opens. You can use the search box in the top left corner to consult another query. Click the Download button to save a .csv file with the top products of your query results, from 100 to 1 2500, depending on your preferences when downloading them.

Explain main screen

The main screen has three sections where you can view the product score ranking, the position of the products on the SERP for the query, and the breakdown of a product score when one or more products are selected:

Bar chart

The bar chart displays up to the first 24 results, in descending scoring order, in line with the same way shoppers view the results. Each bar displays the points for different scoring criteria that make up the overall product score. The scoring criteria are: equalize, query ranking, wisdom of the crowd, customization, and term position.

The bars shown in the chart have different colors, according to their status and origin:

  • Bars representing boosted products and products with boosted attributes are green and have an up arrow icon.
  • Bars representing buried products are red and have a down arrow icon.
  • Bars representing products that are not boosted or buried are grey.

When hovering over a bar, the product image and total score are shown. Also, each portion of the bar is displayed in a different color to represent the different scoring criteria.

You may find that boosted results with a lower score appear before non-boosted results with a higher one, or that buried products with higher scores appear after non-buried products with a lower one. Boosted or buried products always appear in the first or last positions of the chart, as the bars represent the score resulting from all the scoring criteria points, also considering those of query ranking.


If you boost or bury products or product attributes using the Query Ranking management tool, it may take several minutes for the changes to be reflected in the bar chart.

Results grid

All search results for the query are shown in the grid below the bar chart, with detailed information on the product (product name, position in the ranking, and image) and the total score. When hovering over the product, the product ID is displayed, so you can copy and use it easily in other Playboard features and management tools.

Each result also shows a bar showing in percentages the scoring criteria used to determine the product’s overall score and their distinctive colors and icons. Boosted and buried products have an arrow icon as well to represent their status; the total score is highlighted in green for boosted and red for buried products.

If you scroll down, the grid refreshes and shows other products with a lower score. The bar chart collapses when scrolling through the grid.

You can use facets to narrow down the search; products shown in the results grid will update, so you can really feel your clients’ search experience. Click the funnel icon on the left to expand facets.


If you optimize the search results using the Playboard tooling, it may take several minutes for the changes to be reflected in the results grid.

Product score panel

If you click a specific bar or a result from the grid, this product is added to the product score panel. Click the view selection arrow to expand the product score panel for detailed information about which points correspond to each scoring criterion for the product.

On the right, the spider chart gives a visual representation of the points and the scoring criteria. You can select more than one product from the results grid or bar chart to compare results. However, the spider chart shows the score for the first product selected.

Explain main screen

In the table on the left, the breakdown of points for each scoring criteria is listed, as well as the product’s overall score. These criteria are:

  • Equalize: points are calculated based on textual relevance and global importance of product attributes set in the Playboard Equalize management tool.
  • Query ranking: points are calculated based on boosted or buried products or product attributes for a query set in the Playboard Query Ranking management tool. Boosted points are in green and buried ones in red.
  • Wisdom of the crowd: points are calculated according to collective shopper behavior. For example, the more a product is clicked or added to cart by shoppers, the more points it gets.
  • Customization: points are calculated based on other specific customization rules that affect the relevance of products.
  • Term position: for queries with more than one term, points are calculated based on the terms provided in the query that match the order of the terms in the configured fields of the product catalogue. For example, if a shopper searches for “red dress” and the attribute Color is configured to be first in the query, results for dresses that are red will be boosted, compared to a search for “dress red”.

If any of the scoring criteria isn't on the list it's because it doesn't affect the product's overall scoring. The product score panel also shows the tiebreakers for the product results, in the event there are any, as well as the value for each tiebreaker value.


Customization and term position criteria as well as tiebreakers, all affecting the products overall scoring, are defined and integrated into the Empathy Platform thanks to the Search microservice. As they cannot be configured via the Playboard, contact your Key Account Manager if you require any modification.


Get to know more about how product scoring is calculated in Product Scoring.

The Optimize section has shortcuts to other tools in the Playboard that can help you change and improve the product score of a search result. Each link takes you directly to the corresponding tool. The tools that can be accessed are Equalize, Synonymize, Blacklist, Promotion, Redirection, and Query Ranking.

Visualizing search results

Explain is typically used to view search results for a given query. To view the results:

  1. Select the filters and enter a search query.

  2. Check the bar chart and results grid to see the score and order of the products.

  3. Click a bar or a product to add it to the product score panel and expand the view. You see, on the left, the list with the points corresponding to the scoring criteria and the tiebreakers. On the right, you see the spider chart representing its score breakdown.

  4. Take action on what you see using the Optimize tools.

For example, you enter a query for “almond milk” and you want to learn more about the product score of the first result, as you see in the bar chart and the results grid that it has a high score. You click the product result in the grid to add it to the view selection. When you expand it, you see a detailed list on the left and you find the spider chart on the right, both helping you understand how the different scoring criteria determine the product overall score and the points associated with each criterion.


Any changes to product ranking made using the Playboard tools may take several minutes or hours to be reflected in Explain. For example, if you apply a boost to a product using the Query Ranking management tool, the boosted product may not appear as the first in the bar chart if you check Explain straightaway.

Comparing multiple search results

Explain is not only used to visualize scores for individual products, but it can be used to compare two or more results as well. To compare more than one result:

  1. Select the filters and enter a search query.

  2. Click more than one product, either in the bar chart or the results grid.

  3. Expand the view selection to see the scoring criteria points for each product, side by side.

  4. Check the tiebreakers for the selected results, if there are any.

  5. Take action on what you see using the Optimize tools.

For example, let’s say you want to use the Explain tool to understand the product ranking for the query “dress”. Once the search results are presented in the bar chart and the grid, you compare the score of two results that have different scores despite having similar product names: “floral pattern dress” and “floral patterned dress”.

When you click on both results, the expanded product score panel shows the points for each product by scoring criteria, so they can be compared side by side.

As you want to learn why one result is ranked before the other, you check the tiebreakers for each product in the panel to see that price has been defined as a tiebreaker, forcing the “floral pattern dress” result to be ranked before the other result.