eBay's search gets an upgrade

Next time you go on eBay, you may notice a subtle change: better search results.

Earlier this month, the company rolled out to its U.S. users its third-generation search engine. Dubbed Cassini, the new technology is intended to better match users with the items for which they are searching. It’s also designed to handle much more data and to allow eBay to more easily expand its operations globally.

The revamping of eBay search technology was led by Hugh Williams, the company’s vice president of experience and search. Williams has a long history in the search field, having started working on similar technology some 20 years ago to help navigate the rapidly growing databases of DNA. More recently, he was part of the team that built Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

eBay customers run 250 million searches on the site each day, according to a report on Wired. And the company itself runs billions more search queries daily.

Maintaining accurate search results is a huge challenge at the company, because about 20 percent of the company’s 400 million listings leave the system each day, replaced by new listings, according to the article. Even those that remain on the site often change, reflecting updated prices or revised descriptions.

eBay’s goal for Cassini was to index all changes within 90 seconds. To power the new search engine, the company built a new data center in Utah.

eBay has been testing Cassini since December. The company plans to roll out its new search service for international sites by 2014.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (226 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.