The Swiftype Blog

Swiftype Partner Spotlight:
The Web Development Group


Swiftype is not just a solution for end businesses, but also a partner to many other companies who navigate site search solutions on behalf of their clients. Today we’re introducing The Web Development Group (WDG™), a full-service digital agency based out of Washington D.C., who has been able to leverage Swiftype technology to effectively and efficiently deploy search solutions for their clients. I had the privilege of sitting down with Ab Emam, their Agency Director to discuss the challenges they face as a business and how they’ve been able to make great strides for their clients when it comes to optimizing on-site search.

The Web Development Group

The Web Development Group works in a wide range of verticals, from associations, foundations, and nonprofits to government entities, higher education, and Fortune 1000 businesses.  When clients sign on with WDG for a website redesign, it becomes critical to determine a robust site search plan at the beginning of a project due to the amount of content the typical WDG client normally houses on their site.

The Web Development Group offers both Web Design & Development services as well as Digital Marketing Consulting.  Partnering with Swiftype has allowed them to offer a robust site search solution that is not only easy for their developers to implement but has SEO and usability benefits as well. Initially, there was concern that developers would prefer to develop their own site search solution, but WDG has learned developers have become some of the software’s biggest fans for its ease of installation. WDG has since dedicated several developers who are completely knowledgeable with the implementation and functionality of Swiftype’s solution.

When a company is considering a site redesign it becomes an opportune time to evaluate their existing site search functionality. Many site platforms have built-in solutions or basic add-ons like Google Custom Search. But with such limited customizations available, WDG has chosen to work strategically with Swiftype on behalf of their clients to introduce the advantages a customizable solution offers within the initial exploratory phase of a project. In turn, Swiftype is able to provide comprehensive support to answer technical questions and help WDG implement successful site search functionality.

Customer Success

The City of Alexandria recently relied on the expertise of WDG for a site redesign, which included a new site search solution. As a government entity, the City’s site is home to a significant amount of content that needed to be easily accessible to end-users. While navigation elements remain a prominent feature of the site, an easy-to-use and efficient search feature greatly improved the new site’s usability. The site features a prominent search bar within its redesign as the site needed to deliver content efficiently to a wide range of users – tourists, residents, and local businesses. All these audiences have unique needs and by implementing a prominent search bar as a way of navigating through the site, AlexandriaVA.Gov is able to quickly serve up relevant content. has also worked with The Web Development Group for a site redesign and, as one of Washington DC’s top news sources, a robust site search was critical for them due to the high volume of content published on a daily basis. Swiftype’s solution is a seamless integration for publisher sites where website managers can adjust search results to feature the newest or breaking content, as well as prioritize sections of their site based on selected keywords. The Swiftype product dashboard also provides publishers with insights into the keywords their audience is looking for which can help to shape news stories that haven’t even been written yet.

These partnerships are just that – true partnerships that allow for clients to benefit from the mutual efforts of expert digital teams. By leveraging the talents from both Swiftype and The Web Development Group, our clients stand to benefit from robust search capabilities with the potential to see exponential returns.

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.


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!


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.