Default Results Sort Change

Update: There has been… significant… reaction in favor of sticking with Stacked Cities as the default, so we’re going to switch back, and look at ways to improve that view.  As always though, the sort order is entirely your choice, and can be changed using the “Sort” dropdown on the results page, just below the search bar.

SearchTempest is powered by a Google Custom Search.  Basically Custom Search is an API that Google offers, allowing other websites to run customized Google searches.  Like any search engine though, Google sometimes misses results, especially new ones.  We don’t like missing results, so recently we added Bing search as a backup option, to try to catch anything Google misses.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to search each city separately with Bing like we do with Google.  We can search all the cities in your search area at once though, and show the results in a single list.  And we have found that for most searches, this Google + Bing combination returns better results than the “Separate Cities” searches we do with Google.  Therefore, we’re switching the default sort to a single list, including Google and Bing.

The “Separate Cities” sort options aren’t going away though!  If you preferred that way of viewing results, changing back is as easy as clicking the “Sort” dropdown box on the results page, just below the search bar.  We’re also looking at creating a sort of hybrid view that could offer the best of both worlds.

Finally, we also still do offer our Direct Results view, which doesn’t miss anything, so that might be of interest to some of you, especially if you like having the results separated by city.  You can learn more about Direct Results here.

14 thoughts on “Default Results Sort Change

    1. Nathan Post author

      We’re a much smaller team than sites like craigslist or ebay have, but yes, we are planning one. The first step though is to make itself better on phones. We’re well on the way there, and hope to have a new, much improved homepage ready to test early in the new year, with a results page to follow.

      Once the site update is finished, it should perform much better on phones, as already does. At that point, we’ll see if it’s possible to improve the experience any more with a dedicated app, and if it is, we’ll make one. I understand that it’s past time we had these things, so thanks for your patience!

  1. Shari

    Ever since you made this “Direct Results” addition, Search Tempest has ceased to work the same for me.
    My latest issue? When conducting a Craigslist search, the first few cities load fine, and then all of a sudden I see “Retrieving Results from Google”, but nothing loads again. It just keeps searching. I have cleared the cache, to make sure there was nothing off there. I’ve tried searching using different zip codes. Nothing changes. The search starts out fine and then just gets stuck “searching”.
    All sorts of “bugs” seemed to show up after changes were made to Search Tempest. And this happens, regardless of whether I am in private mode or just using Google.

    It is a shame.
    I feel like I need to start looking around, to see if there is a viable alternative.

    I am guessing I am not the only one having these issues.

    1. Nathan Post author

      You’re definitely not the only one. This post in our help center explains the current problem with Google cities not loading:

      As mentioned there, the new Google api limit only took effect a couple days ago, and we’re still working on the best way to deal with it.

      Direct Results has been an option since 2009,so I don’t think it’s related. If you mean the default sort change described in this blog post, as mentioned above, we have since changed it back. We’ve also added the supplemental Bing results to our separate cities view.

      Please do check out the alternatives. I’ve yet to find one that’s ahead of us in features or completeness of results. If you do find one you like though, I’d really appreciate if you let us know what you like about it. It may show us ways to improve!

  2. Shari

    Yes, but if I click “Direct Results”, it appears that if I want to use that functionality, I need to click on each city individually?
    That would be much more time intensive.
    Prior to the changes, all of this information automatically loaded for me. Now it seems that I have (2) options: Either get a much reduced list of information, compared with what I am used to getting OR do a Direct Results search, which means I need to click on each city directly in order to see whether any good results exist.
    I wish that no changes had been made. What was wrong with the way it has been all this time? Why were changes necessary at all?
    I can’t see how any of the changes / new offerings have improved my experience as a user – unless I am really missing something here.

    1. Nathan Post author

      OK, if you want it back the way it was, just click the “Sort” dropdown box near the top of the results page, below the dark search bar, and choose “by distance”. All we changed was the default sort order.

      As for why the change was made, as the post explains, we found that Google was missing results. We added results from Bing to supplement the Google results, but there’s no straightforward way to sort the Bing results by city, so at least for now we were only able to add them to the single list sort. I’m really just repeating the post above though…

      As for Direct Results, it’s a different option that has been available all along. It does require viewing the results on each city separately, but we provide an index with a “Next” button to flip through them quickly. The exception is if you’re on a phone or tablet. Since it isn’t possible to display a separate index window in that case, you do have to click each city, as you say. So, Direct Results works best on a regular computer and/or for searches for relatively few cities, especially when you want to be sure to get every result immediately.

  3. Michael

    Since the change, I am getting almost no results from my search and nothing shows up from Bing. While I had noticed a drop in search results beginning in May, I could still find items of interest. I used your service daily and purchased lots of items. I will pay to go back to the previous search process or I will have to give up on Searchtempest even though I have recommended it to many people. The current search is of no use.

    1. Nathan Post author

      There’s no need to pay; if you want to go back to Separate Cities sort, all you have to do is choose it from the “Sort” dropdown box near the top of the results page, under the search bar.

      That said, it’s very odd that you’re not getting anything at all from Bing, so I would suggest contacting us via so that we can look at your specific search and see what’s going on there.

    2. Shari

      I agree. It is funny that they are saying that what they did should “help” the accuracy of searches, intimating that the previous product was substandard. What I know is that the searches I previously did actually got MUCH better results than what I am getting now. I thought the problem was on my end, but now I realize that this was a system change. Whatever was done, for whatever reason it was done, took Search Tempest from a product that was head-and-shoulders above the others out there, to a product that is on par with the others. Most definitely, it downgraded the quality of what we were receiving – based upon my experience and what I am reading from others. BAD decision, inexplicable reasoning. Smh.

      1. Nathan Post author

        If you want to switch back to the separate cities results, it’s as simple as using the “Sort” dropdown on the results page. All we changed was the *default*, because we have found that our single list results tend to be more comprehensive. This is because it is are powered by both Google and Bing, as opposed to the Separate Cities sort, which is powered by Google alone. (No search engine is perfect; both Google and Bing will miss results sometimes. So in that way, yes, the previous product was imperfect. The only way I know of to guarantee getting *every* result, aside from searching each city separately, is to use our Direct Results option:

        But if you were happy with the results as they were before, again, you can switch back with two clicks. The Sort box can be found near the top of the results page, just below the search bar.

  4. Todd

    Something has gone bad with the recent change. The results, combined or direct, ignore my zip code.

    1. Nathan Post author

      The change only affects the default sort order. Zip codes are still handled exactly as before. Perhaps if you were sorting by distance before, and are now using a single list, you no longer get nearby results at the top, and so it seems like your zip is ignored. If that’s not it, please send us a message at so we can figure it out!

  5. Mike

    Getting far fewer results today than ever.
    Whatever was changed has hindered all of my regular combined result searches.

    1. Nathan Post author

      Hi Mike,
      All we changed is the default sort. For existing users, you should still be on the same sort as before, and the results should be the same as a week or month ago. As I mentioned though, Google has bee doing a poor job of returning results, so we suggest changing your sort to one of the “Single List” options so that you can get Bing results as well. Does that help?

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