The Swiftype Blog

4 Key Considerations for Acquiring an Effective Site Search Solution

Understanding and optimizing how buyers arrive and navigate through your website can be difficult. It’s especially frustrating since you know not capturing this information can leave you with costly gaps in conversion data.

The Aberdeen Group, widely known as a leader in the research and analysis of information technology and products, recently gathered insights on these data challenges. Their findings focused on “Site Search Solutions.” These are traditionally defined as platforms or tools that analyze and optimize a website visitor’s search experience. They can also shed light on the most popular content on your website or app. This ultimately gives you the real-time search analytics needed to reveal what, and whether, buyers are actually looking to buy.

Did you know that 37% of marketers actively invest in search solutions and 26% of those marketers average higher contribution to company revenue from marketing?

Aberdeen has assembled a full Buying Guide to outline all of the considerations you should take into account when evaluating an effective site search solution for your organization, but here’s a brief snapshot of what you need to know:

  1. Ease of Use and Implementation: Dealing with personnel limitations (available headcount, skillsets, bandwidth) is the top operational challenge cited by marketers in our research. Few marketers are coding experts, so it’s vital that the solution you choose doesn’t make already complex marketing operations more complex. 
  2. Customization for Performance Optimization: Best-in-Class marketing teams are 55% more effective than all others at maintaining consistent, relevant, and personalized messaging. Staying up to speed with what’s relevant to buyers while maintaining consistency requires that site search solutions be customizable. The terms and topics buyers search for change; solutions need to allow users to adapt accordingly.
  3. Analytically Driven Alignment to Buyer Needs: The best solution for your business will serve up results that prompt the best actions for your buyers. 
  4. Real Time Updates: The benefits of your site search solution should be immediately obvious. Marketers who use search solutions are 91% more effective at increasing productivity with integrated marketing technology. Real-time capabilities are critical for bringing the full utility of the technology to bear.

Download the FULL Aberdeen Buying Guide now to make sure you’re armed with all the detailed information needed in order to select the site search solution that’s right for you.

How Targeted Search Results Can Beat Organic

Unless you’ve spent the last 15 years living on a desert island somewhere, you’re probably well aware that ecommerce is booming. B2C is riding a healthy wave, with retail ecommerce sales expected to hit nearly $2 trillion this year. And B2B results aren’t too shabby either, predicted to hit 6.7 trillion (yes, with a “t”!) by 2020. So how do all these purchase-happy consumers find what they want to buy?

Business Kid Uses Targeted Search Results

In today’s digital world, we take search and search results for granted. We may not think about it, but they actually do lead to many of those sales. However, at the macro level, search for businesses can be complicated. Companies need to be found online, and they have no choice but to “play the digital game” in order to get those coveted spots on Google’s first page of results.

Everyone knows that organic search is important and requires time and effort. However, there are times when organic search just doesn’t serve your audience well enough, and in those cases, a targeted on-site search is far more effective.

Where Organic Search Falls Short

While organic search ranking is extremely important and definitely something you should be working toward when it comes to your digital real estate, it’s also a part of the search process that you, as a brand, have little control over.

For instance, one of the biggest problems with organic search from a business standpoint is that you can’t decide what the algorithm will display. For example, if a user Googles “pants,” then organic search will give them the pants you sell. Maybe, in a best-case scenario, you’ve done some SEO optimization to promote a specific style of pants that you are looking to push so that style comes up near the top of the search results.

But what if that customer really needs warm pants because she lives in the north and it’s winter? Or maybe this particular searcher wants men’s pants because, well, he’s a he.

That’s where you come in. Once a visitor makes it to your site, you can control what he sees in the search results by providing him with targeted search options to help move him along the purchase process.

3 Ways Targeted Search Results Can Beat Organic

  1. You control what your visitor sees: Targeted site search allows you to optimize search results and ensure the content you want highlighted is filtered to the top. This could mean that when a prospect visits your B2B site, you may recognize her IP as coming from a certain region and be able to show her targeted content. Or it could mean that you place a newly released piece of content as her first search result. This is a key feature of a well planned site search, and is especially important because year-over-year, growth in unique site traffic is nearly eight times higher for content marketing leaders, and showing customers what they want to see—even if they don’t know it yet—is what makes or breaks content leaders.
  1. Filters, filters, and more filters. Personally, I can’t stand scrolling through hundreds of product search results, and I know I’m not alone in that regard. Filters like price, size, color, category, author, date, location, and even content type allow consumers to weed out the unwanted items and zero in on what they want, resulting in higher sales. To no one’s surprise, Amazon is one of the most successful ecommerce sites out there today. And in a recent survey, 54 percent of respondents chose great site search capabilities as one of the main reasons why they placed Amazon at the top of their lists.
  1. Intuitive site search and autocomplete. Shoppers who use internal site search convert at a 216% higher rate than those who do not. And with 81% of shoppers abandoning shopping carts before completing their purchase, your goal is to get consumers from search to check out completion as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s why having site search capabilities like auto complete, intuitive search, and comprehensive spell check is vital to your success.

Overall, organic search is a huge component of any type of content related marketing. But having a targeted search system in place that allows you to provide the very best digital experience for consumers—and delivers the right content at the exact right time—is another huge step forward when it comes to customer satisfaction and corporate success.

 

Welcome to the Swiftype office in San Francisco [HQ Photo Tour]

Welcome to Swiftype Headquarters in San Francisco, California. Founders Matt Riley and Quin Hoxie have created a comfortable and fun office environment with an open floor plan, scattered lounges, and various collaborative areas. Take a look at our office photos below to experience a day in the life of a Swiftype team member.

There are Muni and BART stations just a few blocks from our office, perfect for commuting or being a train ride away from where you need to be.

Our office building is on 301 Howard Street (between Fremont and Beale), in the middle of downtown San Francisco.

Need a coffee boost to start your day? Starbucks is right across the street.

Not a fan of Starbucks? Grab a freshly squeezed juice right downstairs at Joe & The Juice.

We are on the 13th floor. Welcome to Swiftype.

Mini Matt and Quin welcome you to our office!

An open workspace designed for maximum collaboration.

Find privacy and be productive. Soundproof phone booths for taking meetings and private calls.

Head over to our fully-stocked snack bar to grab whatever you need to boost your day.

Did I mention we get FREE catered breakfast and lunch?  Thanks Zesty!

Yes, we LOVE hot sauce.

Oh and we have a keg…for all occasions!

Got game? We are recruiting for a Rock Band player. Are you in?

Not a bad view huh?

Like what you see? We’re hiring for a variety of positions.

Swiftype proposed, and I said yes! A True Love Story in the Making.

I joined Swiftype shortly after graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Computer Engineering last May. I got to spend four years in Atlanta, which provided me an amazing startup ecosystem that let me invest a significant amount of time while still being a college student. I was able to work on a great team at Springbot and build out and launch an MVP at Stackfolio. I got to venture out a bit and intern at MongoDB last summer as well.

The startups I got to work with varied quite a bit in size, and I decided I wanted to join a startup with a small, somewhat established development team. I think this sweet spot is the best type of environment for growing as a software developer. Swiftype definitely fit that criteria, and much more.

Reasons I ended up signing my life to Swiftype:

  • I can see value in the product.
    • I always default to using the “site:www.website.com” syntax on google instead of using a website’s dedicated search tool. I think it’s silly that the majority of websites get beaten by a generic web crawler at finding their own content.
  • Swiftype gave me the time of day.
    • Quin [the CTO of Swiftype] personally reached out to me the day before my interview with a phone call and a follow-up email to make sure I was doing fine and made my way to San Francisco without issue. He also was very active throughout my entire interview process to make sure everything went smoothly. I got the feeling that he actually (even if just a little bit) cared about me.
    • I got the opportunity to ask in-depth questions about the company and its technology, which caused my interview to run way longer than scheduled. Swiftype was one of the few companies that was happy to take the time to give me in-depth answers.
    • Initial contact to offer was less than three weeks. (Not the quickest of all time, but considering I was on the other side of the world or on a plane for 9 days of that time, I’d say it’s pretty good.
  • I got a clear idea of what I would be doing.
    • More often than not, I think new software developers go into jobs pretty blind on what they’re actually going to do. I learned this the hard way through my first internship! It’s perfectly understandable given many circumstances, and perfectly reasonable for people to put themselves into that situation, but it still makes me very uncomfortable.
  • I knew who I’d be working with.
    • I got to interview with the entire engineering team. I left with the feeling that if I could be where they are when I get to their age, I’d be pretty happy with my career. We’ll see how that turns out.
  • Swiftype aligned with my interests.
    • The vast majority of my abandoned personal projects revolved around scraping data and doing something with it. I only found a select few startups whose business revolved around this concept and actually did meaningful things with it.
  • Super soft hoodies that actually look normal.
    • At least at the time, this was a priority. Unfortunately, not many people or companies actually took me seriously, which is understandable. Regardless, this is my public request for the long awaited Swiftype hoodie V2.
  • Positive Culture inclinations.
    • It’s tough to evaluate culture through interviews that span a short amount of time. But I got the same baseline vibes from the Swiftype engineering team as the friendliest, heartwarming development team I interviewed with in Tennessee. This absolutely wasn’t a priority while I was in the job search, but looking back on it, this definitely helped me make a quick decision to say yes to Swiftype.

*****

Note from the Swiftype Team:
Looking for a new opportunity? Jonesing to work with a talented, up-and-coming software development team? Really into soft hoodies and free lunch? You might be a great fit for the Swiftype team! We’re not on Tinder, but you can check out our careers page for our current openings and apply. 

Is Your Marketing Tech Stack Drowning You in Data?

The marketing tech space is growing at an astounding rate. In fact, that just might be the understatement of the year. Back in 2011, there were somewhere in the range of 150 companies engaged in marketing tech. As of 2016, that number had exploded, with close to four thousand companies having some sort of investment in the “martech” space.

Is your marketing tech stack drowning you in data?

Marketing software spending is also projected to top $32 billion by 2018, and your average marketing team is exposed to (and potentially uses) myriad marketing apps every day. Here are just a few:

  • Enterprise Collaboration and Social Media Marketing platforms (think Slack and Salesforce).
  • Content Management and Data Analytics systems (think WordPress and Kissmetrics).
  • Customer Relationship Management and SEO tools (think HubSpot and Moz).
  • To Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing technology (think Marketo and Mail Chimp).

The goal for any organization is, of course, to have all of these systems streamlined to complement and interact with one another.

Enter the strategically built, finely-tuned-to-your-needs marketing tech stack. Your team’s marketing tech stack will help reduce redundancies, increase efficiency, and ensure everyone is on the same page, right?

Well, maybe.

How Big Data Can Defeat the Marketing Tech Stack

With non-stop tech innovation and new applications hitting the market almost daily, our tech driven world has facilitated a never-before-seen explosion of data. A staggering ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated over the last two years alone.

It’s no wonder that some days it feels like all we do is gather, parse, analyze, distribute, and search for data. We do! And the numbers bear that out:

  • Knowledge professionals spend up to 50 percent of their time looking for information.
  • Forty-four percent of the time, employees can’t find the information they need to do their jobs.
  • As a result, a typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $2.5 million to $3.5 million per year because staff are searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, and/or recreating information that can’t be found.

Like many things in life, innovation and rapid change can be both a blessing and a curse. We can market to today’s digitally savvy and mobile-friendly consumers with near laser accuracy. But the enterprise is quite literally drowning in a sea of data.

The Savior of the Marketing Stack? Search.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, with the majority of enterprise data falling in the unstructured category—that is, data that isn’t stored in already-connected databases—having specialized content search tools at your employees’ fingertips is vitally important.

To make the most of that beautiful marketing tech stack, marketers also need to make sure they have tools in place to find information. The right search platform should:

  • Use machine intelligence and an up-to-date user experience to enable searches across all cloud data platforms, for example Salesforce, Slack, and Dropbox.
  • Be mobile friendly, as many employees today are working virtually from coffee shops and home offices.
  • Understand human speech patterns, and include filters to encourage users to drill deeper into their search efforts to snag exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Come with built-in functions like autocomplete, spelling correction, typo tolerance, analytics, real-time search capacity, data protection, scalability, as well as state-of-the-art encryption and security capabilities.

We’ve definitely all been spoiled by the immediacy and relative accuracy of internet search. And frustrated employees waste precious time (and money!)—even lose business deals—because of ineffective or nonexistent enterprise level search.

Your marketing tech stack might be the best of the best—the most strategically structured stack in your entire industry—but if the right information can’t be found at the exact moment it’s needed, businesses will continue to take a financial hit.

Don’t want to be a statistic? You can learn more about search can help you gain control of your tech stack here.

Introducing the Swiftype Search Sallet

Have you ever found yourself on one of your favorite websites, hunting for something very specific, typing query after query into the search field, thinking to yourself: “I wish my computer could just read my mind and find what I’m looking for!”

Well, great news, search fans! Swiftype, the largest independent Site Search and Enterprise Search provider on the web, has solved this long-standing, life-menacing problem just for you. If you ever thought hands-free site search was just a distant thing of the future, you’re wrong! The future is now and now is the future. Today, Swiftype is revealing a cutting-edge site search helmet designed to find what you’re looking for before you even know you’re looking for it: Introducing the Swiftype Search Sallet.

Powering Site Search While Searching Your Mind

We’ve extended our platform to include our patented Neuro-Learning Behavior Recognition technology (NLBR) – you think it, we search it! Get started with the Swiftype Search Sallet in 3 easy steps:

  • Step 1: Wearing Swiftype’s Search Sallet, stare at your computer’s search box for 3 seconds.
  • Step 2: Using Swiftype’s AI, NLP, ML and NLBR technologies, our search automation will recognize that you were searching for, (ie: “Do elephants have elbows?”) and auto-populate your query and immediately trigger the search.
  • Step 3: Review the set of results and stare for 3 seconds at the source you’d like to see more of – additional similar content will automatically appear! Voila! Search that reads your mind.

Unbelievable, Way-Too-Good-To-Be-True Features!

Standard Features include:

Split-Second Search: Our NLBR technology gets smarter over time by learning your eye patterns, brain activity and queries so your search results are returned to you even faster.

Productivity Filtering: Got a deadline coming up, but can’t stop wondering who would win in a fight between Iron Man and Batman? The Search Sallet knows you have to finish your work and won’t show you those results until after you get your work done.

Vocabulary enhancement: Still not sure if it’s “your” or “you’re?” The Swiftype Search Sallet knows which one you actually meant.

Available Enhanced Features:

Song Recognition: Ever get the melody of a song stuck in your head, with no way to figure out what it is? If you’re wearing the Swiftype Search Sallet, our algorithm will pick out the tune and find you that song!

Hunger Recognition: Craving Thai food?  Swiftype will find the restaurant you want in milliseconds before you even know you’re hungry.

Additional Sallet Specs:

  • Breathable, moisture-wicking liner, removable and washable – since you’ll surely work up a sweat -while you feverishly query
  • Color: Flat Black and rubber finish making it the ideal accessory, even for a night out on the town!
  • Incredibly lightweight! Only 10.5 lbs
  • 5-year warranty
  • Batteries not included

Our Customers Have Amazing Things to Say

(Statements given totally and completely by their own free will!)

“Before the Swiftype Search Sallet, I couldn’t find anything I really needed on the internet. Now, I can get information from any website just by thinking it!” – Dave, International Geographic

“I can’t believe I spent all these years wasting time using my hands to search!” – Mindy, Buzzton Post

Dozens of satisfied customers agree – Swiftype’s Search Sallet has not only revolutionized their modern search querying habits, but has made them more likable, attractive, and generally successful. Don’t wait. Order yours today!    

Just kidding. Early April Fool’s! But real talk, our search is pretty damn good. Try it for yourself.

Google Site Search, We Are Never Getting Back Together

Dear GSS,

I’ve been wanting to write you this letter for a long time. We’ve had some good moments, but 11 years is a long time to be together, and you just aren’t fitting my needs anymore. I know you started it by saying you were leaving next year, but I can’t wait until then to start taking care of myself. So I think we should break up now.Breaking up with GSS

It’s Not Me, It’s You

I need a site search tool that’s going to keep working on improving itself, not one that’s going to leave me in a year. I want the best version of you, but I clearly can’t get that anymore. So I’ve found a better version. That’s right, Google Site Search. I’m leaving you for Swiftype Site Search.

When we first met, you promised me I was the only one, that only my content would appear in the search results on my own website. I counted on you to keep the ads from other sites out of my search results. But now you’re going to start letting others’ results show up on my results page? Even my competitors? When my visitors enter a search query on my website, I definitely don’t want to show them results from another website, especially my competitors. I didn’t sign up for an open relationship, and I’ve never felt so betrayed.

I Need More Freedom to Customize

It’s getting harder to deal with how restrictive you’re getting. Even at your best as GSS, I already had to deal with the inability to customize my search algorithm to show the results I knew to be relevant. I let it slide because you do know a lot about organic rankings. But what if I want to promote a brand new page that hasn’t had the time to build up its rank organically? My visitors would be missing out on a lot of important information that they wouldn’t see immediately if I left it to your algorithm. What I really need is to be able to trust in an algorithm to know which content is most relevant to me and my visitors. And if I want more control over it, I can change the ranking of my result pages. You won’t give me that, but Swiftype does.

And I don’t think I should have to change my looks for you. My site’s style should look like what I want it to, and not be restricted by the style of your search engine. My visitors shouldn’t feel like they’re leaving my website to run a search. I want it to perpetuate my brand, not Google’s.

I Deserve a Better Search Experience

But maybe the most important reason I’m leaving you for Swiftype is that Swiftype knows I’m an independent site owner who can achieve anything I put my mind to, but sometimes I want a little extra support. Swiftype encourages me to customize my search however I want by providing me with implementation and support engineers who can answer any questions I have. I’m all about solving problems on my own, but sometimes it’s nice to feel the support of a team behind you instead of having to figure things out alone.

I’ll always be grateful for what you did for me in the past, and I’ll never forget the time we spent together. But I deserve more control over my site search experience, and I’m going to get it with Swiftype. I hope you can find someone out there to love you like I no longer can. Please move on, because we are never, ever getting back together.

Sincerely,
A Site Owner Who Needs More

Taking Site Search Back to School

They’re college students! They’re excited! They’re raring to go! But they need information to get started. More often than not, they hop online and search your university’s website to find everything they need without issue, right? Wrong. Their cursory search yields pages and pages of less-than-relevant search results. After exploring the first few options, they get frustrated because they can’t immediately find what they’re looking for. So, what do they do? They contact you. Over and over and over.

A university’s website is an important intersection for its varied audiences who are all looking for unique information. Often times additional menu options and subdomains are added in order to meet everyone’s needs, but web developers are increasingly realizing that site search is the key to making the right information more accessible.

Getting Smart with Site Search

Join us on Tuesday, March 28th to hear from the web development leaders from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. They’ll explain their own experiences and how they made the choice to make site search a strategic part of their web experience. They’ll cover:

  • Why their old solutions didn’t work and what they looked for in a new solution
  • How they made search the focus of their website and how visitors reacted
  • Where they ran into challenges along the way and how they overcame

Don’t miss this great opportunity to hear directly from your industry peers about how site search was a game-changer for their website. Register now!

Learn How Top Universities Put Site Search at the Head of the Class
Tuesday, March 28th at 10:00 am PT, 1:00 pm ET

Essential Site Search Terms You Should Know

When evaluating your next Site Search solution, you may come across some terms that you’re not familiar with. We are often asked, What does this mean? From Bigram Matching, to Corpus, to Autocomplete, having a grasp of these common terms will help you better understand and evaluate your next website search engine platform. This post provides you with explanations for the most popular/common site search terms.

Essential Site Search Terms You Should Know

Autocomplete
Autocomplete (also known as typeahead or autosuggest) is a language prediction tool that many search interfaces use to provide suggestions for users as they type in a query.

Bigram matching
Bigram matching is a language analysis tool which advanced search engines use to find results for multiple-word queries that are similar to but not exactly the same as the text in the searchable index. (example: iPhone, i phone, i-phone are all different terms, but the algorithm recognizes them as the same)

Clickthrough behavior
Clickthrough behavior is a type of data that records what results users are clicking on from an SERP.

Constant Crawl
Constant Crawl is a Swiftype feature that allows your search engine index to be updated in real time. This means that any time a page is created or updated, Swiftbot will immediately index the new content and make it available in search results.

Conversions/Conversion rates
In the world of search, conversions occur when users perform a query and click on a result from the SERP.

Corpus
The corpus is the entire body of searchable text in a search index.

Document
The term document refers to a single page or item in a website search index. On a publishing website, for example, a document could be a single article. On an ecommerce website, a document could be a product listing.

Document frequency
Document frequency is the number of times a given term or query appears in a specific document within a larger search index.

Exit rate
Exit rate is a measurement in search analytics that records how often users perform a query then leave the SERP without clicking on a result.

Filtered search
Filtering is a search tool that lets users to restrict their search to a certain section of a website or a specific document type.

Phrase matching
Phrase matching is a language-dependent process which advanced search engines use to identify sets of words that should be treated as a cohesive unit when scanning across a search index for the most relevant documents.

Search query
Queries are the strings of text that users type into a search bar when looking for a specific result or set of results. Queries can be one word or several.

Stemming
Stemming is a language-dependent process of removing suffixes from words so that words with the same root match each other.

Term frequency
Term frequency is the number of times a given term or query apears within a search index.

To see the complete list of keywords, visit our Search Concepts overview page.

3 Limitations of Google’s Custom Search Engine

By now it should be no surprise that Google is sunsetting its Google Site Search (GSS) product, in favor of its much more restrictive Custom Search Engine (CSE). In addition to forcing ads into your results (to no one’s benefit but Google’s), CSE has a much more limited feature set, proving that sometimes change can be bad.

Here are just 3 of the many limitations you’ll be stuck with if you settle for Google’s CSE:

They’re not just your results

When a visitor comes to your site, you want your search box to only show results from your website. With CSE you’ll be forced to display ads from the entire web universe in your results, taking away your visitors’ attention from your own content.

Too Many Ads

Customization

There are much fewer customization options with Google CSE – not just visually, but more importantly in the ability to control the way your content is displayed. While you can tweak little things like link colors, there isn’t much you can customize beyond that. The overall experience still looks and feels like Google, not your own. And if you have a new piece of content you want to promote, you have to wait until there are enough organic rankings for Google’s algorithm to show it anywhere close to where you want it.

No Customization Options

Support

The Google Help Center is a list of articles that assume you can do everything yourself. But what if you have a more specific implementation in mind that you aren’t sure if you can achieve on your own? If you aren’t a developer you might have some trouble.

No Support

If you aren’t worried yet, you should be. With free, you get what you pay for. Watch our latest 15-minute webcast recording to learn more about why you shouldn’t settle for CSE.