The Swiftype Blog

On the Search:
Monetizing Search in a whole new way

Search has changed the way our customers do business, and we are on a mission to communicate the value of it. “On the Search” is a new series to help uncover the good, bad, and ugly of what many companies face with search today–and how Swiftype can help.

EOMedia

On the Search:  Travis Clark, EO Media Group

Travis Clark was in a search bind.

As the digital development manager for EO Media Group, Clark needed to improve their search results—and fast. With only three weeks before launching a new ad marketplace platform, he was on the brink.

Here, he discusses the challenges and ultimate success of moving from a “black hole” to new business and revenue opportunities. And it’s all thanks to a transformation through search.

What kind of challenges with search did you face?

We are a small publishing company with 11 newspapers throughout the Pacific Northwest. We built some things with newspaper vendors and used WordPress, but the search for both was awful. Plugins didn’t work very well for us either.

I worked on building a new ad marketplace that is now running on the Capital Press site. We were looking to hit hundreds of thousands of searchable bits of content, and nothing we tried could handle that for us. It was very frustrating.

As a small team, we couldn’t say, “Okay, let’s throw a bunch of money at a developer to build something from scratch.” I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. Then Swiftype was recommended to us to check out.

What was your “must-have” for search in your new ad marketplaces?

Speed was definitely key. When we found Swiftype, we were able to implement it in just a couple weeks and right before our launch. And it had all the power we had been looking for.

It was also a priority to finally be able to do facet searches. The faceting part is super important because we really need to be able to drill down through the content. Now that we have Swiftype we can’t live without the results ranking. We literally need that to do our business.

What has been most surprising with your new deployment?

Before we pretty much had a black hole. We could track users, page views, and all the normal Google analytics. But we didn’t have any idea what people were actually searching for.

Case in point is our Capital Press site, which is an agriculture publication. We thought we knew the customers for it, but this changed once we started receiving the metrics on search queries from Swiftype.

There are parts of our audience we never knew existed. Now we can take these metrics to new advertisers who wouldn’t think we are a fit for them. Or, on the flipside, go back to old customers with new pitches and the numbers to back it up. We’re so happy with what we have now.

What new things did you find readers searching?

A couple surprising search terms were “Christmas trees” and “livestock.”

Christmas trees as a term starts popping up in the summer and tapers off after Christmas obviously. We didn’t know anyone was looking to our agriculture publication to buy and price the market online.

Our print publication had always sold to the livestock business. But there are also a lot of searches on livestock online, which we didn’t realize. This is a great example of a wide, open market because most of our advertisers for the digital site are not in that industry. We can now outreach to those businesses in our region and show them a market they haven’t hit yet.

What kind of success have you seen since launching the improved search with Swiftype?

Most telling is that ad revenue has increased 145% since implementing Swiftype. We’ve also seen some really incredible results with an increase in users (43%), sessions (17%) and new (46%) and returning (31%) users. This tells me that the new platform is attracting more people and more often.

The ability to refine the platform and begin seeing classified advertising more like a retail business has been very exciting. We believe powerful search has streamlined our user experience.

We have some really great stories from our customers, too. One has a tractor rental business and, after three months, he had to pull his listings because the booking was so far out. He switched it to used parts he sells and had to pull that because he got low on inventory. It’s pretty amazing.

Meet Lucy Yu: Got Questions? We have Instant Answers!

HowCanIHelp

We live in a world where the solution to nearly any problem can be solved instantly. When you need the answer to a question, there’s Google, or Siri. If your refrigerator is empty at dinnertime, you have Postmates or Munchery to the rescue. So when you need help for a product you purchased or service you subscribe to, waiting is not an option. As a Customer Success Manager for over 2 years at Swiftype, I help our clients build upon the success of their own customer service departments through the business of instant answers.

Many of Swiftype’s customers use our search software for their Knowledge Base. Knowledge Bases can vary from a FAQ or Help section provided for end consumers as a first stop in the customer support chain, to internal documentation for developers using a product. No matter what the final application looks like, help centers are becoming an integrated part of the product experience today.

Customers are searching now more than ever
Thanks to Google, we’ve all been trained to search. Customers and employees alike expect a self-help channel to service themselves prior to getting on the phone for support. In fact a Forrester survey shows that for the first time in the survey’s history, customers of all ages are using the FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than speaking with an agent on the phone.

This change in user behavior has generated a significant need for our customers to have not only a robust Knowledge Base that they themselves can navigate and find answers within quickly, but the ability for their end customers to quickly search those databases and find answers to their questions instantly.

The need for instant answers is not confined to one industry or solution. Speed and accuracy are critical in a search solution within knowledge bases across the board.

Providing Instant Answers Three Ways
Customer Support teams are using Swiftype as a means to aggregate content in one location. A customer of ours has content that sits in multiple subdomains of their site for developers, designers, their sales team, within their blog, training center and help center. As each individual portal grew, it became increasingly difficult to quickly find the information you were looking for. They’ve successfully leveraged Swiftype to search across all content types, creating a one-stop locale for all internal users when they are unsure of where to locate content.

Another way Swiftype has been implemented by customers internally is to better support call center teams. We are the internal search engine for a global enterprise organization with many call center teams who need to be able to answer questions for their end customers quickly and accurately. If decreasing call time and increasing customer satisfaction are critical metrics for your team, consider ways to make your employees more successful with a customizable search solution.

Lastly, we’ve even been leveraged for instant answers before your customer is even actively searching. Swiftype results are shown to users in a right-hand drawer that slides in when users are in their dashboard for our customer’s product, suggesting answers that are related to the page they are on.

Maintaining a best-in class customer support system is critical to businesses. Knowledge bases are a key component to providing an excellent experience. Gone are the days where your customer is willing to wait 10 minutes on hold with a customer service representative, and another 20 minutes to explain their issue, and hopefully receive a solution. The faster you can provide an answer to your customer, the happier and more satisfied they leave.  And I’m in the business of making happy customers.

3 Tips to Increase Website Conversions with Site Search

As marketers, we’re always looking for ways to tweak our website to improve conversion rates. As a fairly new member of the Swiftype team, I’ve thought a lot about how Swiftype search could have helped me on past projects. I always thought Google was our only option for site search, or that something custom would need to be built. Little did I know there are amazing tools that help marketers focus on marketing without needing extensive IT support. Do you know if visitors are finding the results they expect when they type into the search box on your site? What results are they getting? What if you could control which results they see.

Improve your site conversion rate in three easy steps, just by optimizing one seemingly small, but mighty feature on your site – the search box.

Actually deliver the results your visitors are looking for. How frustrating can it be to find what you’re looking for on certain sites? If your site is returning poor results, you’re leaving your visitors frustrated and unlikely to return. Teams spend a ton of time optimizing site navigation and structure for usability, but your visitors may still be aimlessly clicking through pages looking for what they want. Look for a search solution where you can customize your results or let visitors filter what they’re looking for.  Take control of key information that already exists on your site, and guarantee that your most recent content is included in search results thanks to real-time indexing.

Pin your best performing offers on top. Consider what offers are best at driving meaningful conversions on your site. You can pin these to the top of your search results pages to drive more traffic into that content.  What if your awesome product demos always showed up at the top of search results? Or your best selling products?  Give your customers what they’re looking for, right at their fingertips. You know what converts best on your site, why make it hard for your visitors to find the good stuff.

Create the content of the future. Depending on the solution you’ve used in the past, you may not have been able to track your customer’s search queries, or what results pages they clicked on.  Wonder no more, with a complete dashboard of actionable insights. When you know what your customers are looking for, you can build content or products around the missing pieces.  Your content marketing team will thank you, and your customers will leave your site with the information they need.

As a marketer in charge of driving improvements to our conversion rates, I know I’m always looking for new ways to optimize our site experience for our visitors. Site search is so often overlooked in exchange for testing landing pages or navigation structure, but with the right tools you can make search have a meaningful impact on your conversion rate. Finding a tool that allows you to be flexible and have total control of the results your site displays goes a long way and in the end will help you generate more leads.

To Crawl or Not to Crawl:
How to Index Data for Site Search

crawler-vs-api

If you’re considering an enterprise search solution like Swiftype, you’re probably already
aware of the benefits of upgrading your website’s search experience—things like
greater control over search results, a better user experience, and the ability to gather
analytics from user searches. You also know that taking your site search to the next level
will increase conversions and positively impact your company’s bottom line.

But before you can start enjoying the benefits of enhanced site search, there’s one
important decision to make: how to index the content on your site. Indexing lays the
foundation for your search engine by taking inventory of all your site data, then
organizing it in a structured format that makes it easy for the search algorithm to find
what it needs later on. Essentially, if your website is a stack of thousands of papers, the
search index is the mother of all filing cabinets.

There are a few different ways to go about indexing site content, but the two main
options are using a web crawler or a search API. Both choices have pros and cons, so it’s
helpful to understand which one is the best fit for your situation. Here’s the lowdown on
each.

Web Crawler

You may be familiar with Google’s web crawler, Googlebot, which perpetually “crawls” the internet, visiting each available web page and indexing content for potential Google searches. Swiftype’s crawler, Swiftbot, does the same thing for individual websites like yours.

Using a web crawler to index site data has a couple of key advantages. For one thing,
it’s extremely plug-and- play. Rather than pay a team of developers to build the index,
simply select the crawler option and let it do its thing—no coding required.

A crawler also allows you to get your new site search up and running very quickly. For example, Swiftbot creates a search index within minutes by simply crawling your website URL or sitemap. And it stays on top of changes to your site, immediately indexing any new information so that search results always reflect the latest and greatest your business has to offer.

In our experience, the web crawler option works best for the vast majority of our customers. It’s fast and easy to use, yet also creates a powerful, comprehensive search experience that’s a huge improvement over a fragile plugin or other antiquated site search solution. However, there are some situations where the customer needs a greater amount of customization, and in those cases, an API integration might be the way to go.

Developer API

The main advantage of using an API for search indexing is that it gives you full programmatic control over the content in your search engine. There are infinite ways to build a search experience, and an API (like the Swiftype Search API) lets you choose your own adventure and make changes as often as you like.

For example, if you want to index sensitive data that cannot be exposed on your website such as product margins or page views for a particular article, you may want a more custom indexing setup than the one that comes with the web crawler. The developer API allows you granular, real time control over every aspect of your search engine.

Unlike the web crawler option, using an API usually requires a fair amount of coding, so
we usually see this option used by large businesses with bigger budgets and/or a developer team on staff. Also, since an API integration is custom, the initial indexing process can take time to set-up, so it’s less attractive to customers who are anxious to get started.

Which one is best?

The choice between the web crawler and the developer API will come down to your specific situation. Most Swiftype customers are extremely happy with the crawler, but some do require the flexibility and control inherent in the API. We offer both options so that you can choose the best one for your site and business.

No matter which option you choose for indexing data, the ultimate outcome will be an enhanced site search experience that’s more relevant—and more profitable—than your current solution.