The Swiftype Blog / Category: Government

Swiftype 2017 year in review

You can say 2017 was an eventful year for Swiftype. From starting the year with a product launch of Swiftype Enterprise Search, to helping countless customers migrate from their discontinued Google Site Search solutions, to joining forces with Elastic, the makers of popular open source products such as Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats, and Logstash. To celebrate the new year, here’s a look back at the top blog posts of 2017.

1 — Swiftype Joins Forces with Elastic

“We are thrilled today to announce that Swiftype is joining forces with Elastic, the makers of Elasticsearch. This new alliance will accelerate the development of new features and tools that will make it easier for you to manage and deploy world-class search functionality to your website or organization.”

We’ve built some great search products at Swiftype over the past 5 years, but honestly, we are just getting started. Joining forces with Elastic enables us to partner with the best search experts in the world, so we can continue to innovate and deliver an increasingly diverse suite of powerful search solutions.

2 – Google Site Search is Sunsetting: What to Expect and How to Move On

“By now you’ve probably heard that Google plans to sunset Google Site Search (GSS) and direct existing customers to use their free replacement, the Google Custom Search Engine (CSE). Unfortunately for these customers, the CSE forces websites to show ads alongside their search results, so the transition isn’t as simple as it may seem. As the dominant alternative to GSS for the past 4 years, we at Swiftype are very familiar with the migration process, and we’re happy to share some of our advice to those weighing their options.”

In early 2017, Google announced it was sunsetting their widely used Site Search product. Since Swiftype Site Search is similar to GSS in its ease of use and out-of-the-box relevancy, many former Google customers turned to us for their website search needs.

3 — Customers Say It Best

“Each month, nearly 900,000 buyers utilize G2 Crowd for unbiased user reviews to assess which products are best for their businesses. Swiftype’s reviews on G2 Crowd both reaffirm the value of our product to our customers, and allow us to improve our products to make sure each and every user is satisfied with their site search.”

When potential Swiftype customers are evaluating our solution, we really encourage them to do a free trial and spend some time using our product. We believe in our product and consistent positive product reviews from our customers help to reaffirm that belief.

4 — Introducing AI-Powered Enterprise Search

“Today, we’re excited to announce a new product that addresses this problem head-on: Swiftype Enterprise Search. By integrating artificial intelligence with our industry leading search technology, Swiftype Enterprise Search is a powerful new way for employees to seamlessly access the data they need, from any device, across the many applications their jobs require.”

Earlier this year, we launched Swiftype Enterprise Search  — a modern, AI-powered search solution that enables companies to unify content from all of their apps and data stores. Our enterprise search solution is available on web, desktop and mobile and integrates with your existing workflows so you can find the files you need without breaking your concentration.

5 — 10 Examples of Well-Designed Search UIs

“Are you implementing search and looking for some inspiration? In general, intuitive search UI designs are easy to access, match the look and feel of the overall website, and offer autocomplete results and filters when appropriate. To give you a better idea, here are 10 examples of well-designed search UIs.”

At Swiftype, we’ve helped thousands of businesses to index their content, customize their search engines and then implement search interfaces on their website, either with our JavaScript snippet or our search and autocomplete jQuery libraries. Over the years, we’ve learned what makes for a good search experience and can confidently tell you that these 10 companies have nailed their search UIs — helping them to get the full value of their search technology and enabling their customers to easily find what they need.

6 — How Asana, Twilio, and SurveyMonkey optimized their customer support centers [Infographic]

“Asana, Twilio, and SurveyMonkey have all invested heavily in creating high-quality support content. To ensure this content is easily accessible, these companies leverage advanced search technology that provides relevant results to their customers and actionable analytics for them.”

One big use case for our search technology is in customer support centers. Companies like those listed above utilize Swiftype Search as a flexible portal for their customers to access their support documentation. Since search is a natural way for people to access a wide array of support content, our customers have been very successful in reducing their manual support loads while simultaneously helping their customers to resolve their issues more quickly.

7  — How site search makes higher education websites more accessible

“When a website visitor elects to use the search bar on your website, they have a specific goal in mind, so it’s important to provide them with relevant search results. At Swiftype, we specialize in building relevant site search technology and making it incredibly easy to set up on your website. We’re fortunate to be able to work with some great universities, and we wanted to highlight their Swiftype success stories.”

University websites generally have lots of pages designed to cater to a diverse constituency of prospective students, current students, faculty, staff and parents. Powerful search technology like Swiftype helps higher education institutions to improve the accessibility of their websites so that their site visitors can find the content that’s relevant to them.

8 — Great Developers Ship, They Don’t Configure Search

“Engineers and developers want to spend more time developing products and websites, not configuring search. It’s pretty obvious, and understandable. Developing allows them to be creative, solve problems, and build new things. Search, albeit a critical feature for site visitors, is part of a site’s foundation. It should already be there. And it should work, and work well.”

As you can imagine, we love to build search products at Swiftype and can tell you that they’re difficult to get right. When you’re working on a product or website and need search functionality, you may not have the time or resources to allocate towards building search. And that’s where we come in with our robust search as a service solution and well-documented developer APIs.

9 — 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.”

Take a tour of the Swiftype/Elastic San Francisco Office and get a feel for what it’s like to work at a high-growth startup.

10 — Swiftype API overview: Customize your search engine

“The Swiftype API gives you full control over the schema of your search engine and the content that you index. With the Swiftype API endpoints, you are able to index data, execute search queries, and access rich analytics.”

One of our main focuses for the Swiftype Site Search product is to make it extremely easy to get your data indexed so you can quickly install a working search bar. Some of our customers prefer to interact with Swiftype through our API or client libraries which enables them to build search to their exact specifications, from the data ingestion process to user interface design.

Test drive Swiftype Site Search

At Swiftype, we provide powerful search as a service complete with customizable search UIs. We make it easy for you to get a search engine up and running by providing a web crawler and API for ingesting data, and an intuitive admin dashboard for managing your search experience. Ready to get started with Swiftype? Sign up for your 14-day free trial here.

On the Search: The City of Portland Levels up Their Website Search

The following is a Q&A with the City of Portland’s Richard Davies about his experience implementing and managing Swiftype Site Search.

Portland: A well-cultured city on the rise

With a population well over 600,000, Portland is the largest city in Oregon and the second largest in the Northwest. Known as a city with great parks and vibrant beer, food and coffee cultures, Portland is both a popular place to visit and live. Over the past 20 years, Portland has seen a significant boom in the the technology and creative marketing industries, and its GDP per person has grown by 50%.

As the government of a large and innovative city, the City of Portland strives to provide high-quality service to its citizens. Two key ways they do this is by maintaining a high-quality website and leveraging technology to keep their citizens informed. On a daily basis, Portlanders visit their city’s website for information about city codes, community events, utilities, and many other things that impact their lives.

The City of Portland implements Swiftype

Earlier this year, the City of Portland turned to Swiftype as a replacement for their Google Site Search installation. Portland was able to get up and running very quickly with Swiftype and their citizens have been happy with their new search solution. Recently, we took some time to chat with Richard Davies, a web application developer for the City of Portland, to hear about his experience implementing and maintaining Swiftype for Portland’s website. Here’s what he had to say.

Question and Answer with the City of Portland’s Richard Davies

Q: Why did the City of Portland decide to use Swiftype?

A: Our website needed to migrate off of unsupported Google search solutions to a more modern and powerful search solution. Swiftype has been very easy to implement and is faster and delivers more relevant results and advanced functionality that was not available with our previous search solution.

Before implementing Swiftype, we looked at a number of search solutions ranging from self-hosted to cloud-based, open source to proprietary, and Swiftype hit the sweet spot for us between features and cost and ease of use/configuration.


Q: How does the City of Portland use Swiftype? What is your use case?

A: We use Swiftype Site Search to provide search functionality on our main website, This site contains 200,000+ pages and is used by all of the bureaus and offices within the City of Portland to host both public and intranet content, as well as various web applications supporting such things as online payments, business license registrations, and stormwater calculations, etc.

With such a large, diverse website, searching is a critical feature because it’s one of the primary means our users use to locate desired information on our site. Our experience has been so positive that we will keep it in mind for use with future projects/sites.

Q: What are the best Swiftype features?

A: Some of the critical features for us are:

  • Quick-and-easy setup/configuration/maintenance
  • The ability to index and search both public and private content on our website and deliver an appropriate set of results to public users and authenticated users
  • Ability to index PDF and Word documents
  • Ability to customize rankings and search results
  • Customizable meta tags and content inclusion/exclusion tags
  • Developer APIs


I think this is a good indication of how Swiftype has greatly improved the accuracy and relevancy of our search results, thus enabling our users to find what they’re looking for with fewer searches.

Richard Davies
Web Application Developer


Q: In what ways have you utilized data from the Swiftype Search Analytics dashboard?

A: We have used the list of most popular searches to help us identify pages where we need to customize the search results to ensure that we’re returning the most relevant information for these frequently requested topics.

Also, although we only have a limited amount of time to compare, the total number of searches has gone down dramatically since our move to Swiftype (about half of our previous total average). I think this is a good indication of how Swiftype has greatly improved the accuracy and relevancy of our search results, thus enabling our users to find what they’re looking for with fewer searches.


Q: Do you think Swiftype Search has made it easier for your website visitors to find the information they need?

A: Yes, I touched on this a little in my previous answer. I believe the following factors have all contributed to making major improvements with our search experience:

  • Searching with Swiftype is remarkably faster than our previous solution
  • The HTML attributes for content inclusion/exclusion allow us to focus the index on the relevant parts of a page and deliver more relevant results
  • Customizable meta tags allow for improved filtering
  • We can customize search rankings ensure that the most relevant results are at the top

We were aware that many users were frustrated and unsatisfied with our previous search solution and we received many positive comments after we switched to Swiftype. We were able to do a seamless migration and suddenly it was as if the search had just “magically” started working way better for our users. Everyone was much happier!

Shout out to Richard and the City of Portland

Big thanks to Richard for taking the time to chat with us! We’re really excited to know that our technology is being used to help Portlanders find information more easily. If you would like to learn more about Swiftype Site Search, you can download the Ultimate Guide to Website Search for Government or sign up for a 14-day free trial.

City governments: Better serve your citizens through intuitive website search

Providing critical information to your citizens

As a city government, you’re a critical source of information for your citizens. Whether you’re a small city of 15,000 people or a metropolis with millions of people, you’re relied on to keep track of your city’s records and make them easily accessible to your citizens.

On a daily basis, citizens come to you with questions about city codes, community events, utilities and many other things that impact their lives. Although there are a few ways that people can get this information, it’s likely that many of them prefer to get it from your website.

After all, what do you do when you want to find out who won the game last night or who the mayor of Cleveland is? You fire up your web browser, go to your favorite search engine and search for it. Almost instantly, you have your answer.

Search as a window for information

These days, websites are a major source of knowledge and search is an excellent interface for accessing information and getting the answers we need. But sometimes, we forget that we can apply advanced search technology to our government websites so that our citizens can quickly get their questions answered, regardless of who they are and what they’re looking for.

At Swiftype, we specialize in building relevant site search technology and making it incredibly easy to set up on your website. We feel quite fortunate to be working with some innovative cities like Wilson and Portland and we wanted to highlight their Swiftype success stories.


City of Wilson (NC) + Swiftype

The City of Wilson is situated in the heart of eastern North Carolina and prides itself on innovation and service excellence as it serves its 50,000 citizens. Know as the birthplace of BB&T, Wilson is about 40 miles east of Raleigh and enjoys a diverse economy based on agriculture, manufacturing, commercial, and service businesses.

During a recent overhaul of the city’s website, Wilson’s IT leadership decided to upgrade their site search technology. After evaluating a few options, the City of Wilson chose to go with Swiftype, citing easy implementation and out-of-the-box relevancy as major drivers of their decision.

External and internal use cases

The City of Wilson actually rolled out Swiftype for both their external, citizen-facing website as well as for their internal departments enabling them to better serve their citizens and boost productivity across their organization. Since implementing Swiftype, the City of Wilson has “gotten great feedback both internally and from citizens”, according to Brandon Evans, a Technical Services Representative for the city.

Here are 3 ways Swiftype Site Search has helped Wilson:

  • Better way to navigate content – Swiftype has allowed citizens and city employees to quickly and easily find the information they need, regardless of what they are looking for
  • Accessibility – The City of Wilson has featured search prominently on their website, directing citizens to utilize the search bar to get their questions answered
  • Analytics – Swiftype’s robust analytics dashboard enables the City of Wilson to see what people are searching for most frequently, what high volume searches are returning no results and what results people are (or are not) clicking on

“Search is very much an early warning system for us” – Will Aycock, General Manager

Hurricane Matthew: How search comes in handy during natural disasters

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the Southeastern United States after causing severe damage in the Caribbean nations of Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. As the storm closed in on the North Carolina Coastline, citizens from Wilson turned to to give them answers about for flood prevention materials, roadway hazards, and other information on storm-related city services. Although Wilson is about 100 miles from the Coastline, the city was still expected to receive high winds and lots of rain.

Using search analytics to identify and pinpoint issues

As the storm closed in, Swiftype’s real-time search analytics gave the City of Wilson early insights into potential issues and helped them to identify what was important to citizens. As Wilson saw people searching for critical time-sensitive information like street closures, they were sure to keep their website up-to-date. Since Swiftype quickly indexes new content and updates your search engine, the City could be confident that its citizens had access to accurate information so they could avoid flooded areas.

As more and more flood-related search queries rolled in, the City of Wilson decided to build a dedicated app to show which streets were flooded. The app, which was built in response to data from the Swiftype analytics dashboard, proved to be a huge help to citizens.


City of Portland (OR) + Swiftype

With a population well over 600,000, Portland is the largest city in Oregon. Over the past 20 years, Portland has seen a significant boom in the the technology and creative marketing industries and its GDP per person has grown by 50%. In 2015, Oregon was the most popular moving destination, according to United Van Lines.

Replacing Google Site Search with Swiftype

Richard Davies, a web application developer for the City of Portland, recently replaced an installation of Google Site Search with Swiftype. Turning to Swiftype as a turn-key solution to replace the sunsetting Google Site Search product, the City of Portland was able to get up and running with Swiftype in about an hour.

“Swiftype Site Search is very easy to use and I was able to implement the basic search functionality in about an hour.” – Richard Davies, Web Application Developer for the City of Portland

Portland was excited to test out the advanced features of Swiftype including drag-and-drop results ranking, custom weighting and synonym groups. After using Swiftype for a few months, Richard and his team grew appreciative of our relevant results, support team, and robust documentation. Overall, the City of Portland has found Swiftype to be a powerful and full-featured site search solution that meets the needs of their citizens.

Getting started with Swiftype Site Search

To get started with Swiftype, you just enter your website’s address and Swiftype will index your site and create your search engine in real-time. No coding is required, but developers can use the API for extra control. Swiftype can index any amount of content and new content is indexed automatically, so your search is always up-to-date.

A free trial makes trying Swiftype risk free

Want to try out Swiftype Site Search for your website? You can sign up for a free trial here.

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