Substring limitations

So I have some major beefs with the Mini and how Google's algo handles stemming / substring matches. This just isn't working right.

For example, one of our products is the "UB181DZ". People commonly search for the "UB181", since this is the base model. Well, the default results were 0 matches. That's not good, especially when we have the UB181DZ in stock, along with the DZK and the DZK-2 (we "invented" these kits by customer demand.)

So, a simple fix is to pre-fetch substring matches of any skus. I'm doing a "SELECT sku FROM products WHERE sku like '%$searchstring%';" and sending the search as "ub181 OR ub181dz OR ub181dkz OR ub181dzk-2" for now, but that's just not a good long-term solution. It also doesn't work when they search for multiple words. I'd have to make some funky syntax to get that working, and I'm feeling lazy right now.

As an experiment, I thought we could try dashes. The first attempt was with our HG1100. I had an additional keyword (shown only to our mini) added of "h-g-1-1-0-0". Well, that didn't work for a search on makita hg110 or makita 1100. Also, we have a match for makita 1,100 (it's even the right product since it heats up to 1100 degrees), but it still doesn't show up. I have entered a secondary test now of h.g.1.1.0.0. to see if that works at all. I'm not holding my breath.

This really makes me wonder how many searches at google.com don't work properly (or any of the engines) because they don't do partial matches and stem properly. I'm sure people search similar on our site to how they'd search on Google.com, so does anything relevant come up for a search for makita 1100 there? No HG1100's listed. It is all the 1100W generator. (At least we show up as the first product result... ;-)

I was a bit annoyed by this at first, now I'm mostly curious. What can I do to make this search work on our site AND at Google.com? When I have an answer, I'll post it here. I'll be playing with my IBL's as well to see what I can do since the mini factors those as well.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, my new "Fun" site is coming along nicely. If you haven't already heard about it, I'm sure you will soon enough.

Brian.

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