Search at the EPA

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Search Features

Additional search features and capabilities

At the EPA the Google Search appliance is the search engine for both public and intranet search. The Google Search Appliance is a box designed and supported by Google, but is configured and maintained by the EPA search team. It has been configured to crawl specific content on EPA servers, creating two EPA specific collections: one suited for use by the public, and one suited for use by EPA internal users.

Search Features

Best Bets

Best Bets, also referred to as Key Match, enables one to specify up to three URLs to display at the top of the results page, above search results, for a specific query.

For more information on requesting a Best Bet and for information about improving the relevance ranking of your content, see Improving Relevance Ranking in EPA Search Results.

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Related Queries

Related queries are suggested search terms that make connections for the user between commonly queried terms and EPA preferred terms, or between acronyms and their spelled out version. The related query is displayed above search results next to “You could also try”. When clicked, a search for the related query is run. Related queries give different results than the original, related search. To request a related query, contact the search webmasters.

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Frequently Asked Questions

In the right sidebar on the search results page, search has been configured to run the query term against EPA FAQs, pulling FAQs relevant to the query term into the search results. EPA's FAQs are managed in a cloud-based database. See Frequent Questions for Specific EPA Programs/Topics.

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Twitter Results

The Google search appliance allows us to pull current information into search results by leveraging social media, such as Twitter. When one of the designated, official EPA twitter accounts tweets content relevant to the term(s) queried, it will be displayed in the right side bar.

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Advanced Search

The advanced search page is available from the search results page and allows the user to combine search strings to create more complex searches that will narrow search results. With advanced search the user can combine the search elements below to improve their search results.

  • Word filters:  All of these words, This exact phrase, Any of these words, Exclude words by title, keyword, or domain
  • Domain filters:in title, in keywords, in url
  • File Format: All formats, PDF, HTML
  • Relevance or Date

For additional guidance on creating a search query, see Searching with the Google Search Appliance (GSA) page.

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My Search (Intranet Only)

MySearch is a feature of EPA intranet search that allows the user to customize the sites they search. Using the MySearch tab on the intranet search results page, the user can select up to 25 of the predefined offices and locations. These selections will be retained for the next intranet search session on that computer.

  • MySearch is available from all intranet search boxes
  • You can combine more than one Area Search using MySearch. For instance, you may want to combine HQ and OEI.

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Additional Search Features and Capabilities

Area Search

Area Search is the name we use for searching only a part of the website, typically, but not always the content about a particular topic. Searching only specified content is implemented by filtering. Filtering is configured by coding two parameters: the URL pattern to include, and where to look for that pattern.

The Google Search Appliance supports Area Search via the epasearch webapp. All current and historical patterns are supported. 


  1. We no longer index TSSMS. Previously, you could filter on TSSMS, URL pattern or a combination of the two. All filtering now is performed on URL. If you are filtering on TSSMS, we automatically translate the filter to the correct URL pattern at search time. You do not have to change your search code.
  2. For legacy content, we only support filtering on primary aliases. Since we only index primary aliases, there is no reason to search other patterns.

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XML Results

Applications can access search results in XML format, to implement enhanced search processing, manage presentation locally, or harvest relevant documents automatically.

For information about coding for XML results, see XML Search Results.

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Customizing Search Results (legacy content only)

The standard Agency search results templates for public access and intranet provide a level of area-specific customization that is sufficient for most applications. The following features can be customized without coding a custom result template:

  • The name of the area that appears on the results line
  • The URL of the "Contact Us" page
  • The URL of area-specific advanced search
  • The URL of the cascading style sheet (css)

For more information about customizing search results for content on or on the intranet, see Customizing Search Results.

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Hiding web pages from search (legacy content only)

A .noindex or a .filesnoindex file is designed to "hide" your files during the search collection building process. If you are developing pages that you do not want the public to find, these files will prevent the circular indexer from adding your documents to the collection.

For more information about hiding public content on or intranet content from the search engine, see Hiding Web Pages from Search.

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