The Swiftype Blog

New: Knowledge Base Guide to Search Analytics

While personal customer support remains an essential ingredient for attracting, retaining, and creating loyal customers, this level of individualized attention is expensive to support difficult to scale as your company grows. In response to this challenge, creating a comprehensive user-facing knowledge base that enables customers to resolve support issues without contacting your team can save companies time and money while also improving the overall user experience.

Read Swiftype's new knowledge base guide to search analytics.

Once in place, any steps that a customer support team can take to optimize this knowledge base and create a more efficient user experience can substantially decrease inbound support volume. In this pursuit, creating a centralized search experience that allows support center visitors to quickly and easily find the content they are looking for is vitally important.

Still, while the importance of search across knowledge bases is fairly self-explanatory, customer support teams often overlook the valuable insights available from user search behavior—insights which include:

  • What are the most pressing issues my customers are facing?
  • What issues are users unable to resolve on their own?
  • What new support content needs to be created?
  • How relevant are the results for users who search across my knowledge base?

To give support teams a clearer sense of precisely what information they should be looking for from their search analytics and to provide actionable recommendations about how they might improve their on site search, Swiftype has created the Knowledge Base Guide to Site Search Analytics.

To access this guide and learn how customer support teams can leverage knowledge base search analytics, follow the download link below.

Teaching Swiftbot to Intelligently Index Images

When creating search engines, the first and arguably most important step is indexing website information in a structured format that is optimized for a specific search algorithm. The specific information you index and the structure by which you organize this information (also known as the schema) dictates how your search engine will determine relevance, what your users can search by, and what information you can display in search results.

How does indexing work?
While there are numerous ways to customize and control the information you index in your Swiftype search engine (for example, via our API or one of our platform integrations) we aim to make this process as simple as possible for non-technical users by automatically indexing website information with Swiftbot—our high performance web crawler designed to index information from a specific URL.

Swiftbot allows non-technical users to get up and running with a working search engine in minutes by simply entering their website URL and letting Swiftbot index their website for them. A major component of Swiftbot’s technology is the logic that our engineering team has built in to parse website HTML and index it in a structured format that works with Swiftype’s advanced search algorithm and information retrieval method. (To learn more about the technical challenge of building a search engine, read our white paper on the subject, written for a non-technical audience).

Building an intelligent web crawler
Because almost every website is built and structured in a different way, teaching Swiftbot how to effectively read, sort, and organize information from a website’s HTML base is an ongoing challenge. While we do allow site owners to completely customize the default information Swiftbot indexes from your website with custom <meta> tags, not all users have the technical resources or knowledge to do this on their own, so Swiftbot is also built to make many of these indexing decisions on its own.

HTML windows

With every website structured differently, how do we teach Swiftbot to intelligently index this information?

Still, with websites differing so dramatically from one another, indexing the right information in the right format from each page is no easy task. In particular, identifying the most important image from a web page and associating that image with a search result is a multifaceted problem, since there are many images on every page and these images often have different filename structures and/or occupy different locations on a page.

images in search and autocomplete

Adding images to search results pages and autocomplete menus can create a much more engaging search experience.

Nevertheless, indexing images allows site owners to create much more engaging search experience, adding thumbnails of varying sizes to their autocomplete and search results that let users see a preview of the page content before selecting a result. So, in a recent update to Swiftbot, we’ve built in conditional logic that automatically indexes images from your website pages (provided there are no Swiftype specific image tags already in place).

How does Swiftbot decide which image is “best”?
To teach Swiftbot how to index the “best” image from web pages, we had to build in logic that would overcome a series of challenges that result from the varying nature of website pages.

  1. As a starting point, we decided to leverage existing open graph <meta> tags (such as Facebook and Twitter <meta> tags) that many site owners use to prepare their content for sharing on social media platforms and other content distribution networks. By teaching Swiftbot to obey these <meta> tags if no Swiftype specific <meta> tags exist, we created hierarchical indexing logic that more intelligently sources images from existing website metadata.
  2. Secondly, we know that many websites have a large number of images that repeat across many, if not every page on their website (for example: a company logo, images in the header, footer, and sidebar, author headshots, ads, etc.). To ensure these images are not considered the “best” image for a specific document, we built in logic that identifies and rules out these repeating elements as candidates. Similarly, we do not want to index advertisements, so we run any images on the page against an ad server blacklist to ensure these remain out of consideration.
  3. Thirdly, we compared data in the alt attribute of each <img> with the url and <title> of that page, assigning a relevance score to those images based on how closely the alt description matched this page information.
  4. Lastly, Swiftbot looks for common CSS classes and id’s to locate the main content area of each page—another step that helps rule out extraneous information such as the header, footer, and sidebar.

Taking all these pieces of information together, Swiftbot assigns the images on the page a relevance score and indexes the image it judges to be the “best” image for that document. As this new indexing process gains wider use and we gather feedback from customers, we will continually work to improve our image extraction technology over time.

Adding these images to search
Once these images are indexed from your website and in your search engine, the question becomes: how do I display these image thumbnails in my search results and autocomplete dropdown? While there are many ways to style your autocomplete and search results (including using Swiftype’s web components or jQuery library) the best choice for users with very little technical experience is the Result Designer, which allows users to style their search results entirely from the Swiftype dashboard without writing any additional code. To learn more about the Result Designer, watch our dedicated webinar explaining this tool and offering best practices advice from the Swiftype customer success team.

11 Ideas to Pin at the Top of Search Results

Result ranking allows you to drag and drop to rearrange results for a specific search term.

One of the coolest features that Swiftype’s site search software offers is the ability to drag and drop to rearrnage results that users see for any search query. Using the Result Ranking tool, the Marketing Team has been having a lot of fun coming up with the different ways to have this feature help us generate more leads and close more business. So, we decided that we would share our top 11 most useful use cases and how they could be useful for our customers.

  1. White paper – If you’re a publisher who offers guarantees for lead gen packages or a demand generation team at a corporation, consider pinning your white papers and ebooks at the top of relevant search queries.
  2. Webinar – Making sure that upcoming and on-demand webinars are at the top of key search results will significantly increase the chances of increasing registrants and upping the percentage that attend.
  3. Video – searches with thumbnails get strong engagement from users. Pinning video testimonials or demos can help your prospect move down the marketing funnel at a much faster velocity.
  4. Unused inventory (so that you can get rid of it) – E-commerce companies always struggle to find ways to get rid of last years collection. Need a new idea? Just pin those SKUs to the top of some converting search queries and watch your inventory fly off the shelves.
  5. Top selling product(s) – Already have a product that’s selling like hot cakes? Then leverage your site search analytics to find other opportunities to sell that product.
  6. Viral article – Similar approach to top selling products. If you know that an article is going viral, then increase the number of search queries that that article should be at the very top of to generate even more engagement.
  7. The day’s top story – For publishers, the day’s top story can sometimes be buried in search results. Make sure that your top search queries show the newest and most relevant top stories.
  8. FAQ/Support pages – If you are seeing that a piece of support or knowledge base content is helping lower call volumes, then find other queries that this content can help support.
  9. Highest priority job posting – Recruiters should take advantage of site search analytics to see what kinds of jobs prospective candidates are looking for. These insights will help you pin your highest priority jobs to appropriate searches to help you generate more applications to that job.
  10. Most recent op-ed – Have an editorial that delivers your company’s new fresh message, make sure to pin it to the top of relevant search queries for highest visibility.
  11. Sponsored content – If you are a publisher who offers your advertisers sponsored content, you can work with your advertiser to make sure that their content is pinned to the top of the search results that they’re trying to target. This is a great money making opportunity and easy way to build deeper trust with your advertisers.

Have any pinning use cases that we haven’t already mentioned? Send them our way at [email protected]—we’d love to hear how you’re using Result Ranking to improve your on site search experience.

White paper: Designing Ecommerce for the Mobile Shopper

This week we are excited to announce a new white paper from Swiftype: Designing Ecommerce for the Mobile Shopper. Here at Swiftype we’ve been fascinated by the steady growth of mobile across every corner of the web, and wanted to summarize our research and findings in a report that looks closely at the influence of mobile in the ecommerce space.

Learn how ecommerce design should take cues from the unique expectations of mobile shoppers.

As a starting point, the report aims to uncover the differences in behavior that distinguish mobile shoppers from those on desktop, looking at the relationship between online sales and online traffic across different types of devices. Questions addressed include:

  • How has mobile ecommerce grown in the past few years and how will this trend develop moving forward?
  • How do the aims of mobile shoppers differ from shoppers on desktop?
  • What strategies have industry leaders adopted to optimize their mobile ecommerce experience?

This report also looks at the differences between ecommerce trends within apps and on mobile browsers, helping site owners determine where they should focus their development efforts as they look to optimize their business for the increasingly prominent mobile shopper. To access your copy of the report, follow the link below.

What Are Swiftype Web Components?

I do a lot of Swiftype integrations with enterprise customers. Search applications are like christmas trees – everyone knows what they look like, but have very specific ideas about how to customize them. For developers, having the right resources to meet this expectation, in the desired project timeline, is a must. That is why we’ve launched Swiftype Web Components, a resource rich website built to support developers who are responsible for integrating search for their company or client.

Web Components is an emerging standard for developing more complex HTML elements. Swiftype Web Components is based on the React javascript library, but it’s not dependent on React. So, we’ve actually built a library that supports React, but can also support other web component libraries; such as Riot, Polymer or webcomponents.js, which follow Web Component design patterns. For those unfamiliar with React, it is a very popular JavaScript library that came out of Facebook.

The idea of web components is that you can take a complicated application, like a search results page, and break it up into a bunch of different components that all operate independently. In our catalog, which is the first place to start, we have about 30 to 40 components that all can sit on the page together and work to provide a powerful search interface. Each component is optional and can be composed easily to fit the desired experience. For example, some customers might not want faceting so they don’t have to include that component. Other things like pagination, most people are going to want and they’re going to put on every search results application.

The component catalog is broken up into categories for organization. Some categories are sorting, faceting, filtering, links, how to handle misspelling, pagination etc.. All these items are components, that put together, deliver a really powerful search application. Our goal is to standardize these components to make everybody’s search results powerful, easy to use, and based on the same flexible core library.

A developer who’s learning about how to use components can begin by clicking the Get Started Now button, which leads you to our install tutorial. We’ve built a starter kit, which brings you to a small search application that we’ve built. The nice thing about what we’ve built is that you can actually edit the search application and start working with the code from your browser without having to set up a development environment or anything. When you’re happy with your changes you can share the link with others and download the customized files.

Our site also includes technical documentation for the library and examples that demo how components can be composed to build different search applications.

We’ve love to get your feedback. So please reach out to us and let us know what other resources you need to be able available to build search very quickly and easily.

Analytics is changing how editors and publishers build experiences for their audience online. Check out this webinar to learn why.


Creating an engaging user experience is paramount to the success of digital publishing. A primary component of any engagement strategy is helping your users find content that is timely, interesting, and relevant to their interests. But how can you do that? Your first consideration should be your data and analytics.

Join Ben Lack, Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development for Swiftype, and Clare Carr, Director of Marketing for, as they cover the best questions to ask of your data and analytics to find out what your readers want and how to get it to them. See how top media brands and digital publishers are using the answers they find about their audience to power their editorial and product strategies.

  • What metrics really mean and what they’re telling you about your audience
  • 5 Questions about what your readers want that anyone on your team should be able to answer
  • Examples of how premium publishers are using analytics to grow their loyal audiences
  • Insights from Swiftype’s billions of search queries and‘s billions of network page views about what audiences want from all publishing sites.

So sign up today, then tune in on August 19 for a deep dive on how your editorial and publishing teams can improve your users online experience. Invite your colleagues to join, too!

Promoting Content Marketing with Custom Result Ranking

For any business pushing a content marketing strategy, every white paper download, webinar registration, and video view is critical to generating quality leads and achieving a positive ROI. While SEO, email marketing, and paid acquisition are all useful strategies to drive users to this content, at Swiftype we also use our own tool to promote content based on user search activity. Here’s how.

Swiftype offers site owners a unique tool to promote content for visitors who use site search: Custom Result Ranking. This tool lets site owners customize the order of search results for a specific query, dragging and dropping existing results to a new order, adding new results that don’t appear by default, or eliminating results they don’t want displayed.

Improve content marketing efforts by pinning gated content at the top of site search results.

With this tool, site owners can “pin” specific pieces of content at the top position for related searches to drive users to these high value landing pages. For example, we have pinned our white paper Understanding Ecommerce Site Search Analytics, as the top result when people search “ecommerce.” With this new result order, we see a significantly higher number of white paper downloads each week that result from site search.

Adding marketing automation landing pages
However, in many cases (including our own) these landing pages are hosted on a different domain than your main website, generated by the specific marketing automation platform your team uses (such as,, or many others). Because these pages exist on a separate domain, Swiftbot will not automatically discover and index these pages on the initial crawl of your website—meaning they will not initially be discoverable through search. To add these external landing pages to their search engine, Swiftype users can use the Domains tab in their Swiftype Dashboard. Let’s take a look at this process in action.

To access the Domains tab, simply click on the icon from your Dashboard home page or navigation bar. Here you can manage the domains that comprise your search engine index. For example, we combine our main site ( and our blog ( in one search engine to let users search across both properties at the same time.

Add new domains to your search engine directly from the Swiftype Dashboard.

To add your landing pages, you simply have to add your landing page URL as a new domain. To do so, paste the complete URL of any landing page in the new domain box, then click verify to have Swiftbot index the page and add it to your search engine. Note that because these landing pages often don’t contain links to other pages of the same domain (which Swiftbot uses to create an index from a single url) you may see an alert warning you that Swiftbot will not be able to index additional pages beyond this one landing page. However, this will not cause any problems, and you can simply click Add Domain to proceed.


From here, you can add additional landing pages by managing your domain rules, accessible by clicking “Manage Rules” next to the domain you just added. To add another landing page, simply click “Add URL” in the top right corner and then paste the unique URL of each landing page you’d like to add. Once these pages become part of your search engine, you can add them as a top result (or any other result) to any query you would like from the Rankings tab.

As your users interact with your on site search engine, you’ll be able to see the number of clicks these pinned results receive for specific queries in the Rankings tab, as well as the top referring queries and autocomplete prefixes that lead users to this page by looking at the Details section of each page in the Content tab.

With this tool, Swiftype allows site owners to personally curate search results, giving marketers and site owners yet another way to promote content and ultimately drive their lead generation efforts. For help with this process, or to get in touch with a member of the Swiftype team, email [email protected].

How to Index Thumbnails for Crawler Based Engines

As you’re getting started with Swiftype, you may be wondering how to index thumbnails from your website and serve them to users in your search results. The answer to this question lies in using Swiftype’s custom <meta> tags, which allow site owners to pass detailed web page information directly to Swiftbot, our web crawler, as it moves across your site. As Swiftbot encounters these custom Swiftype <meta> tags, it indexes their content and incorporates that information in your search engine index schema.

To index thumbnails from your website, all you need to do is add a Swiftype image <meta> tag to the <head> section of your website template that indicates where images are located on your various page types. For illustration purposes, the Swiftype image <meta> tag is formatted like this:

Swiftype recommends placing these <meta> tags at the template level of your website to ensure that image files are dynamically populated within the tags, rather than being added manually for every page on site.

NOTE: the value of the “content” attribute must be HTML encoded. For more information see this guide.

Alternatively, you can wrap images with a body-embedded Swiftype image <meta> tag to avoid changing your website <head>. For example, Swiftbot will index example.jpg into the image field from the HTML below:


Hello world


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed ut risus sed ante dignissim pharetra aliquet a orci. Maecenas varius.


In in augue molestie, bibendum velit vel, luctus erat. Curabitur cursus, tellus at feugiat lacinia, tellus est suscipit lectus, non commodo diam elit sit amet justo. </body>

It is important to note that in both the <head> and <body> embedded <meta> tags, you need to specify the data-type attribute as enum. For images, this will always be the case. For any other custom meta tags you choose to define, each attribute must be a valid, Swiftype-supported field type, which you may read about here.

Once you index thumbnails from your website, you can easily customize your search results and autocomplete to feature thumbnails in a range of shapes and sizes with the Swiftype Result Designer.

To learn more about using custom Swiftype <meta> tags to refine your search engine index, check out our tutorial. As always, if you need help or have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

The Evolution of Search on Amazon

This post was initially published by Internet Retailer—a leading source of ecommerce news and publications.

One of my favorite tools for online research is the Internet Archive—a 501(c)(3) non-profit devoted to the digital preservation of the web as it evolves, crawling the web and capturing how various web pages have looked at different points in time. As someone who spends time researching and writing about web design, I’ve relied on this tool to trace the evolution of numerous websites— being one of the most fascinating websites to study in light of its ever increasing power and influence over the web, particularly the realm of ecommerce.

While Amazon’s homepage design has evolved in response to a wide range of influences and company goals, one of the most striking changes has been the increasingly prominent role that the search bar plays in the user experience. Viewed in the context of the internet’s larger history, this evolution makes logical sense: Google and Amazon were both founded around the same time (1994 and 1998, respectively), and while Google has made more of a name for itself as the innovator in search technologies, search technology at Amazon has had to evolve alongside Google because of the tremendously important role it plays in ecommerce.

Considering the tremendous strides that Google has made in search technology over the last fifteen years, it should come as no surprise that Amazon has had to work equally as hard to keep pace (today still, Amazon has an entire section of its job site devoted to Search and Discovery Technologies positions). As Amazon’s search has bar has become more useful and more powerful, it has become increasingly valuable to users. And the more valuable it has become, the more devoted real estate it has received across the homepage and website.

Let’s trace this evolution with a series of screenshots from Amazon’s homepage over the last fifteen years, focusing on the changing size and position of the search bar.

May 10, 2000: Search begins somewhat obscurely tucked in the top left corner.

May 10, 2000: Search begins somewhat obscurely tucked in the top left corner. Amazon provides the option to filter searches to a specific subsection of the site and a suggested query to inspire users, but the sidebar below the search bar remains a primary navigation tool. This design remains largely unchanged for the next six years.

 June 2, 2007: Search occupies a much more prominent space in the header of the page, but the sidebar remains equally prominent as a critical navigation tool.

June 2, 2007: Search occupies a much more prominent space in the header of the page, but the sidebar remains equally prominent as a critical navigation tool.

June 15, 2012: Amazon eliminates the sidebar, offering instead a single search bar to serve as the primary portal for users entering the site.

June 15, 2012: Amazon eliminates the sidebar, offering instead a single search bar to serve as the primary portal for users entering the site.

June 9, 2015: Not only does search remain the most prominent feature in the header of Amazon’s homepage, but the search bar now sticks to the top of the page as shoppers scroll.

June 9, 2015: Not only does search remain the most prominent feature in the header of Amazon’s homepage, but the search bar now sticks to the top of the page as shoppers scroll.

The trend across these images is clear. As search technology has improved on Amazon, the search bar has become a more valuable asset in the user experience and has accordingly taken a more prominent position the homepage. At the same time, with the dominance that Google exercises across the web, user expectations for search have steadily risen as well—a development which undoubtedly contributed to Amazon’s shift towards such a search-centric user experience.

Another major takeaway from this evolution is the massive amount of data that Amazon is able to collect as a result of their massive search volume. On site search queries are arguably the clearest expression of user intent available to site owners, and Amazon continually leverages this information to intelligently promote products across their website—a subject and design evolution that merits its own post entirely.

To learn more about best practices for site search design and see example implementations, read our post on Swiftype’s favorite implementations from 2014.

Styling Search Without Code: The Swiftype Result Designer

Since our founding in 2012, Swiftype has worked hard to let site owners install powerful, user-friendly search on their website without writing code. To take this vision even further, we are excited to announce a new feature this week: The Swiftype Result Designer.


The Swiftype Result Designer allows site owners to style their search results and autocomplete directly from the Swiftype dashboard, making it easy to integrate Swiftype search with the existing look and feel of your website. For a brief overview of how the Swiftype Result Designer works, watch the screencast below.

With the new Result Designer, Swiftype users can

  • Choose between multiple search result display methods
  • Add thumbnails to search results and autocomplete suggestions
  • Decide which page attributes to display in search results
  • Customize search result text and snippet highlighting colors
  • Change their search result and autocomplete design as frequently as they would like, without ever touching their code base


For new Swiftype users, the Result Designer can be accessed under the INTEGRATE tab, on the INSTALL SEARCH page. For Swiftype users who created their engines before this new installation process was launched in mid-April and would like to transition to this new javascript embed, follow the instructions on the INSTALL page in your Swiftype dashboard or visit our tutorial here.

This is the first in a series of exciting updates that the Swiftype team is making to the installation process. Stay tuned for more updates over the next few months, including new tools to custom style your own facets, filters, and sorting tools—all without writing a single line of code.

Try out the Result Designer today by creating a free account.

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