What's New With Search

By Avniel Dravid, Senior Product Manager · May 12, 2022

We recently improved the search functionality in Column so that publishers and advertisers have more flexibility with finding notices in the system. Whether notices are active, archived, or in draft mode, the search engine is now capable of searching by notice name, client name, or notice date. More importantly, the engine can also do a full text search of the notice body content, including images and PDFs. Results are returned in ranked order, meaning the most relevant results will display at the top.

Key Takeaways:

  • Upgraded public notice search functionality returns results faster
  • More data fields are indexed in the search so it’s easier to find notices based on loose reference points
  • Use of double quotes for an exact search
  • Misspellings (will still) yield the closest match

Two types of search explained:

Basic (Fuzzy) Searching. This is the most familiar type of search for people because it functions similarly to Google-style search results. Basic searching works by typing in any keyword. For example, typing in the name Homer Simpson will search all notice names, dates, and full text content for those key words. Results that have both terms Homer and Simpson will appear higher in the search results. However, the engine will still return notices that contain just Homer, or just Simpson. Even more powerful is the ability to detect spelling mistakes. If you search for Homer Simpsen, you will still get search results for Homer Simpson, though the spelling is incorrect.

Exact Searching. This type of search is for instances where you need an exact match of specific keywords like searching for a unique ID, word, or phrase. In this case, you can use double quotes around the search term, and you should receive only results that have an exact match. For example, searching for “123-984-A” when you include the double quotes will return notices that include that specific identifier. It will not return any results for 123-984-B, since the double quotes indicate that an exact result is needed.

What the changes mean for you:

Easier for teams to work together. If your organization has multiple people inputting notices on a regular basis, this feature will enable all system users to find any notice — even if it was entered by another person.

Faster to find a specific notice. Instead of looking through your email for a specific notice, use this search functionality to find the notice, even if you don’t know the exact name of the notice. Once you’re in the system, you can find a notice (or type of notice) that you’ve previously published by searching for a specific keyword used in the notice itself. It can be duplicated and edited with new information to create a new notice submission.

A research tool for community-focused journalists:

Until now, searching the content of published notices has been nearly impossible for many community-focused journalists interested in reporting on trends or patterns. The act of searching the content of public notice ads is often time consuming and complicated.

This search update makes public notice a searchable database and gives reporters a new research tool to gather information contained within public notices to inform editorial content.

For example, if a reporter wants to do a story on trends in school board hearings, they can now easily search and find all public notices that cover those hearings and use the content to craft meaningful editorial content for their communities.

Suggestions for improvements? Please reach out to!

© 2020 Column, PBC. All rights reserved.