Now that I’ve moved my Movable Type installation to mySQL, I have some pretty powerful options at my disposal for making the blog more user-friendly. Highest on my list was implementing MT-RefSearch, a PHP/mySQL hack that helps all those Googling monkeys find what they need.
Here’s how it works: when a user executes a search at Google, Google steers them your way. Passed in the click-through are the keywords used at Google to get them to you; MT-RefSearch takes advantage of this by executing a search against your blog using that same search phrase. When you arrive at the blog from one of the search engines (MT-RefSearch supports over 200), it will create a message at the top of the page that says, in effect, “I see you came here from Google. Here are the top 5 matches for that phrase at this blog to help you find what you’re looking for.” To see this in action, go to Google and then click the first link.
This is a fantastically user-oriented enhancement. In order to make it work, I needed to change my default file extension for all files (home page, individual pages) from .html to .php. This (again) breaks inbound links to this blog (something that has become a ver unfortunate reality of late), but one that I think makes sense for the long haul. (And since Google will update its cache within a month or so, this doesn’t really have any long-term negative effects for inbound traffic from Google.)