The Swiftype Blog

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.

On the Search: Azusa Pacific University Implements Swiftype

azusa-pacific-university

Located northeast of Los Angeles, Azusa Pacific University (APU) is home to almost 10,000 students and counts 68 bachelor’s degrees, 45 master’s degrees, and eight doctoral programs within the system.

After years of using the Google Search Appliance for their website, the APU web team was faced with a new challenge. After Google announced it was phasing out the product, they were on the search for an even better solution—and not something so “old school.”

Here, Dustin Reynolds, Assistant Director of Digital Marketing, shares APU’s experiences of implementing and improving their search.

What were your “must-haves” for search during your evaluation?

At first, we didn’t really know what we were looking for—other than we wanted something that we could build into our website that looked custom and like it belonged there. We also wanted to be able to do keyword matches and pin them to the top of results. If someone types “MBA,” we need to ensure that we always serve Master of Business Administration as the very first result. Customization of search results was very important to us.

As we explored the options more, we started to see features that we really wanted. This included ease-of-use and the ability for many team members in our office to access the tool and work on refining the search options. If a team knew what should appear and they could then do it themselves without having to pass it to a developer, then it would make the process much more efficient within the office.

What was the actual Swiftype implementation like?

It was actually very fast—around two weeks. In that time, we figured out customization and fallback pages. We then went on to really delve into weighting, as well as creating some custom meta tags on our site to help the search engine figure out things we knew the user would be looking to find.

What has surprised you the most with your new deployment?

One of the biggest surprises was cost. Swiftype is quite a bit less than Google Search Appliance and for the tool that you’re getting.

What do you see as the biggest difference between Google Search Appliance and Swiftype?

Outside of cost, it’s having the ability to change things quickly, weight terms differently, and customize how we rank certain sections of our site. This is a big deal for us because we feel like we’re providing better quality service to the user now.

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

Our main goal is to get potential students to fill out a form and say they want more information on a program. Now we really have a window into what’s happening—whether it’s misspelling of search terms or a way to try and understand why they didn’t click on a certain search result. As far as conversions go, we set up one conversion variable, which for us is the Information Request Form.

Is there a feature you can’t live without?

I would say it’s the results ranking because we have such a robust site and anything can show up for a search term. Being able to control it and know that the first three or four options are on target is key. You’d be surprised—especially when people are searching on mobile— the amount of times a letter is skipped or doubled up. Now we can look and say, “Oh, clearly they were trying to type ‘admissions’ or ‘accreditation'” and account for that. It’s a big deal when we can make sure we’re serving up the content our audience is trying to find—even with terms that are often misspelled.

Bringing the Power of Swiftype’s AI to Slack

Slack solves the problem of efficient communication in the workplace. Swiftype solves the problem of efficient content discovery in the workplace.  And now, /Swiftype is a simple command that leverages our AI-powered Enterprise Knowledge Graph to search all of your company data without ever leaving Slack.

Over 4 million workers (at companies like Airbnb, Ebay, Condé Nast, Samsung, Urban Outfitters, and more) use Slack and spend an average of 10 hours each weekday plugged in. It’s transformed the way people communicate and collaborate at work. Likewise, Swiftype’s suite of applications and Enterprise Knowledge Graph has transformed the way people discover and leverage information at work.  Today, we’re proud to announce Swiftype’s new integration with Slack — adding to our recently-announced AI-Powered Enterprise Search Platform, which eliminates the need to pop in and out of multiple tools and sites to find the information you need. Swiftype lets you search in Slack to uncover content across all of the applications you use at work.

You search in Slack, Swiftype gives you answers. It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s efficient.

Here’s what you get (and why it matters) when you /Swiftype

Easily discover all of your content from within Slack. You should be able to search for documents, files, conversations, and data regardless of where the information lives. Similarly, you should have access to all of this without interrupting your workflow. If you find yourself spending most of your work day in Slack, why not search there? With a simple command, you can pull in search results from any application without ever leaving Slack. Find the information you need and share it directly in your channel.

Ask Swiftype questions the way you’d ask a coworker — our AI will do the rest. Using proprietary Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing technology, Swiftype understands searches in the same way humans do, and the results are an astonishing combination of speed and predictive accuracy. You’ll never search the same way again.

Fully control the privacy of your company data, whether it’s across your company’s shared content or per-user private sources, Swiftype gives every person in the organization access only to the data they are allowed to view. Your data is protected every step of the way, too. Security isn’t just a priority, it’s an essential component to our technology and platform. From end-to-end encryption to Slack channel restrictions, everything is in place to ensure the protection and integrity of your most valuable asset: your content and knowledge.

Don’t limit your search

Sure, you can look through each service individually by jumping from one to another until you find what you’re looking for, but this level of inefficiency is not only frustrating, it’s also expensive. The reality is that most companies house content in more than one place (and with more than one provider). When you search, you need to search across all of your data.  Swiftype focuses on being comprehensive and efficient. Your employees don’t want to search G Suite, then Salesforce, then Slack, then your website, then Dropbox, then Zendesk to find the piece of information they need to do their job. Swiftype lets you launch a single search  — that spans all of your cloud data sources — then, you’re done.

And now, you can do it all within Slack too.

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.

How does this impact your site search performance and site visitor experience?

Companies who choose to stay with Google and its CSE will be sacrificing the end user experience. A few sources have already noted that the changes are “unlikely to be well-received by web users who are already sick of being inundated with ads.” But perhaps even worse than the degraded user experience is the fact that users who click those ads will leave your website, which is the opposite of the goal of the Site Search feature. It’s hard to imagine how any business could justify using a Site Search product that invites their users to leave their website entirely.

A good Site Search implementation helps users find the content they’re looking for and keeps them engaged and active on your website. Not only is this a better user experience, but it is also a rich source of valuable user analytics for website owners. Swiftype was designed specifically to help our customers capitalize on this opportunity. We offer a completely ad-free experience as well as detailed analytics that can illuminate important customer behavior.

What you can expect from alternatives.

As a website owner, alternative solutions for site search can generally be grouped into two buckets: free plugins and paid SaaS solutions.

The obvious advantage of free alternatives is the price tag, but the disadvantages cannot be dismissed. The main issues to consider are:

  • These options are highly unlikely to be cloud-based solutions, which has far reaching consequences when it comes to both the cost of maintenance and the quality of search results. Cloud-based solutions eliminate the maintenance burden for the website owner and also offer much better search relevance algorithms.
  • Free solutions are also unlikely to provide general customer service, so if you desire a level of customization, you will likely need to learn to do that on your own.  Your search provider will not be involved in helping you create a good end user experience.
  • Poor scalability — because free plugins are often just built on top of complex database queries, they don’t typically scale for sites with a significant amount of traffic.

Swiftype and its modern cloud-based search technology offers a more robust alternative:

  • You’ll get all the bells and whistles — best-in-class search relevance algorithms, powerful analytics, and all the modern user-facing features your users have come to expect: autocomplete, faceted search, spelling correction, typo tolerance, etc.
  • Built for scale — hosted solutions can scale to millions of search requests per day without impacting the speed of the rest of your website.
  • Extensive customization options built to integrate with modern web technology and a direct contact for customer support requests.
  • When you’re purchasing from established companies where hosted search is their entire business, it is much less likely that they will abandon the space and their product, as Google has done.

For more details on how Swiftype specifically stacks up to CSE when it comes to analytics, customization, indexing, developer-friendliness and other areas, go here.

Why is Google sunsetting yet another search product?

GSS has been a fixture of the Internet for over a decade now, and part of its initial appeal was the simple, self-service nature of the product. Unfortunately, consumer expectations of search have far outpaced the feature set that GSS and CSE offered — ironically, due in large part to advances that Google made exclusively in their consumer-facing internet search engine. Add to this the fact that great customer support is an absolute requirement for effectively integrating site search into the widely varying user experiences of each different website, and it’s not hard to see why Google is moving on from their product. At Swiftype we have extensive experience bridging the gaps that GSS and CSE have left exposed. Learn more about our Site Search product here and contact us if you’d like to hear more about how we’ve transformed site search for businesses like Lyft, NBC Universal, Shopify and others.

See how Swiftype can help:

Swiftype Site Search is the most powerful and widely deployed Google Site Search alternative on the market. Our product has been on the market for 5 years now and today powers search experiences for many major corporations, including Qualcomm, AOL, AT&T, and more. Watch our demo video to see why companies are choosing Swiftype for their business:

Swiftype Enterprise Search Now on Salesforce AppExchange

Swiftype Enterprise Search Now on Salesforce AppExchange

Two weeks ago, we launched Swiftype Enterprise Search to revolutionize the way employees find content across their data sources. Today, we’re excited to announce another advancement in helping workers quickly find the right information: our just-released Salesforce AppExchange app.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 10.22.38 PM

Why the AppExchange? Because Salesforce isn’t just the world’s #1 CRM platform; they’ve helped more than 150,000 companies grow every part of their business from the cloud. They pioneered the concept of cloud-based business applications and, in the process, have fundamentally changed how companies view and use technology.

The cloud is now where business takes place. It’s where your data resides and where your applications live. And, it’s why we built Swiftype Enterprise Search for Salesforce to help your workers find information across all Salesforce Clouds: Sales, Service, and Communities.

Swiftype for Salesforce helps sales, service and support, managers, and even customers quickly find the right information, right now. Here are a few examples of how Swiftype can help your teams today:

  • Swiftype helps sales teams be more productive in their jobs as they work with prospects and customers by presenting information related to their accounts before they’ve even searched for it.
  • Swiftype helps service and support teams with case deflection by presenting related information to help solve cases faster so they’re not wasting time hunting for or recreating information.
  • Swiftype helps customers find answers before they think of opening a case by connecting content from Communities, Salesforce’s KnowledgeBase, and your company’s internal content repository.  

Best of all, Swiftype isn’t just limited to Salesforce. Our app indexes content across any cloud data source—from Salesforce Clouds to Dropbox to Google Apps and more—and delivers results in a single search experience. And, it takes just days to roll out Swiftype, with no IT development resources needed.

Swiftype for Salesforce also gives you all of the advanced features you’d expect from a leading enterprise search application. Search results are predicted and delivered based on a user’s role, permissions, search behavior, and preferred data sources and objects. Administrators can customize results based on tools and filters. Our dashboard lets you easily monitor and customize the search experience without any technical skills.  Swiftype Analytics help you understand what your employees and customers are searching for and how to make them more productive. And there’s so much more!

Come find us in the AppExchange and learn why those who’ve tried us love us!

Your Search for Love Love for Search Starts Here

On Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to be bitter if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Searching for data over a stack of different cloud technologies (Salesforce, Dropbox, G Suite, etc) is like hitting the bars every weekend, hoping your soulmate walks up beside you and asks, what’s your sign?

Sure, you might get lucky, but chances are at the end of the night you’ll be left sifting through irrelevant results and looking for your match in all the wrong places.

We just launched the world’s best wingman for your cloud technology suite. Using AI technologies, Swiftype Enterprise Search understands context — we get that it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.

We’ve married artificial intelligence with our industry-leading algorithm, to make indexing content across disparate cloud data sources effortless. Employees get the information they need, when and where they need it.

Stop settling. Get Swiftype Enterprise Search and fall in love with your cloud technologies again.

Introducing AI-Powered Enterprise Search

User experience continues to be the driving force behind technology, and our expectations as consumers are growing every day. Just look at any successful app on your phone —- from Uber to Instagram — and it’s clear that a refined user experience is very important to those businesses. We’re also in a time where AI is beginning to make a measurable impact on our lives — most notably when it comes to Search. Whether you are asking Siri a question or searching the web for a restaurant menu, we as consumers are again coming to expect the technologies we consume to exhibit increasingly complex levels of machine intelligence. Despite this, the technologies we utilize in our professional lives have remained mostly unchanged, and today they stand in stark contrast to the experiences we enjoy elsewhere.

Think about how often you sit in front of your computer thinking “is there something that already exists that could help me right now?”  Most people will give search a try, scroll through a few results, ask a couple of colleagues, but eventually give up and embark on creating something from scratch. Searching through all the data you need to do your job has never been easy, but today’s employees face an even greater challenge because the work they do gets scattered across a multitude of popular software platforms — from Google to Dropbox to Salesforce. At Swiftype, we believe this makes enterprise search for modern businesses a much more complex and important problem than ever before.

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. Our new platform will bridge the gap between the tools we use at work and the expectations we’ve developed from our consumer experiences.

We’re excited to show you more and invite you to sign up for a free 7-Day Trial of Swiftype Enterprise Search.  We’re confident that it will transform the way you and your employees search and work.  Read more about how it works here and start connecting!

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On the Search: St. Mary’s University Implements Swiftype

st-marys-university

On the Search: Elaine Shannon Web Developer & User Interface Specialist

What kind of challenges with search did you face before Swiftype?

One of the biggest challenges we hoped to solve with a new search tool was the ability to search across multiple domains. Over the years we have created many websites, both internal and public-facing, and there was no good way to search across them. It seems like an easy problem to solve, but on our main platform, we didn’t have a tool that could handle results from more than one website.

We also had a hard time making sure search results were relevant. As soon as we installed Swiftype, we started spending time customizing results. Users don’t need to sift through the thousands of pages and documents we’ve indexed across all these sites, they just need the top handful of results.

What were your “must-haves” for search during your evaluation?

The most important factor for us was building a search engine that spanned multiple websites on multiple domains. We also wanted to be able to have better control over search results. We can’t always change our content to match searchers’ intentions — for example, we don’t call our residence halls “dorms” — so being able to set up synonyms and custom result sets at an affordable price point sold us on Swiftype.

In what creative ways have you used Swiftype to improve your search?

Students don’t always know what major they want to pursue, so it’s not always easy for them to browse through a university website and find a program they want to commit to. We thought it might make it easier to decide if we set up a list of interests and linked those to related programs. So, we built a dedicated search tool. If you’re interested in art, you can type that in and be presented with five different program options that match that interest.

Our program page used to be a long list of everything we offered, and we found that site visitors didn’t stay on that page very long. Now, we offer a combination of options — you can search by interest, or you can filter through programs by degree or by school, and we’ve found that 34% of visitors are now using the Search by Interest tool and immediately finding what they’re looking for.

How are you making ongoing adjustments to your relevancy model?

I check on the dashboard weekly, even if it is just a quick glance. If there is anything glaring, like a popular search that’s not returning any results, or a search result set that’s not getting any clicks, we’ll quickly update those results. Otherwise I try to make a focused effort once a quarter to go through our data more deeply and customize our results to provide a better visitor experience.

We also build out content as needed for empty search results. A fun example of this is we didn’t have anything on our mascot for a while, so that was an easy one to add.

What kind of success have you seen since improving your search with Swiftype?

Search is one of the most popular ways to navigate our website. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on both our main engine (which searches cross-domain, so you can find the main site, the law school, the bookstore, and the intranet all in one engine) and our Search by Interest engine.

For us, the gold standard of conversion is when a visitor applies for admission, but prospective students are a long sales cycle and visit our sites multiple times before they take that step. We know that registering for a campus visit is a high indicator of a user’s likelihood to apply, and we can track those metrics and how site search has impacted them to date.

Like any tool, there was a bit of a learning curve when we first set up Swiftype. We had to learn which factors impacted the search results most — whether it be a headline, title, or page content. Now that we’ve had more than a year to tweak results, we’ve found a good balance and are serving our visitors more relevant results, which keeps them on the site longer.

Questions about your Swiftype installation? Our Support Team has answers.

Congrats on your Swiftype implementation! You’ve already started delivering a powerful site search experience for your visitors. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

We’ve been listening to our community and we’re here to answer 4 of the most commonly asked questions from Swiftype customers.

1. Why do my results all look the same?

When Swiftype’s crawler, lovingly called “Swiftbot”, crawls a domain, there’s potential for repetitive template elements to be indexed with the page body. Most notably the navigation/header, sidebars, and/or footer content. With all the great, meaningful content encased in template noise, the quality of the customer’s search experience can be negatively affected.

For example, Apple.com has these elements on their website:

support_blog_img1

Since these elements appear on all pages, when their site it indexed, in the Swiftype dashboard, it looks like this:

support_blog_img2

You can easily clean this up by using our Content Inclusion/Exclusion tag recognition. By adding Swiftype specific meta tags (data-swiftype-index=’true’) to the HTML container(s) that holds the primary page content, it’s possible to instruct Swiftbot to index only those sections of the page body.

The best practice is to set the main content container to true. If you want to further refine what’s indexed from that section, you can add additional tags with a value of false to containers nested within.

Example

<body>
    <nav>Blah Blah blah</nav>
    <div id="main_content" data-swiftype-index='true'>
         <p>All of my sweet, sweet 5/7 content is going to go in here.</p>
             <div id="ad_widget" data-swiftype-index='false'>This bit really isn't as important which is why I'm going to add a 'false' exclusion parameter.</div>
         <p>This bit will be indexed though, because it’s still within the ‘main_content’ div that’s set to 'true'. Everything outside of the ‘main_content’ div container will be ignored, yo.</p>
             </div>
    <footer>Copyright Attempting to Sound Official© 2016</footer>
          </body>
        

2. How do I prevent Swiftype from indexing certain pages of my site?

For crawler based engines there are three approaches you can take to determine what pages are indexed from your domains: URL path rules, a customized robots.txt file, and robots meta tags.

Path Rules:

From the Manage > Domains section of the Swiftype customer dashboard, there’s an option for each domain that will allow you to ‘Manage Rules’ for that domain. From here, you can define specific paths to include (Whitelist) or exclude (Blacklist) when crawling your site.

Examples of common cases are the exclusion of /category/ paths for ecommerce sites, so the focus is exclusively on crawling product pages. For other CMS based sites, you’d likely see paths to login or administrative pages excluded, as well as dynamically generated content, like pages based on tags or categories. More examples and tips on using this feature can be found here.

Robots.txt Files:

A robots.txt file is a plaintext document that you can upload to the root directory of your website’s domain. With the robots.txt file, you can define URL path exclusion rules for all or only specific web crawlers to follow. Many websites will commonly have a robots.txt file already in place, and it’s presence is one of the first things Swiftbot will look for when starting a crawl process.

Check out our Robots.txt documentation to learn how you can leverage this with Swiftype.

Robots meta tags:

If you need to exclude content in a more precise way (page by page or page template basis), we recommend and fully support robots meta tags. We adhere to the robots tag standard that’s a companion to the aforementioned robots.txt file.

This means that we’ll pass over any page we attempt to crawl that contains a meta tag:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

You can also configure these tags so they only apply to Swiftype’s web crawler:

<meta name="st:robots" content="noindex">

Similar to the robots.txt file, meta tags are configured and managed outside of the Swiftype dashboard via their webhost/CMS.

You guessed it. We’ve got documentation of robots meta tags support here.

3. “Why are pages missing from my search engine?”

Here are 3 reasons why Swiftbot, our crawler, may not be able to locate and index pages on your site:

A. We’re unable to find the content because it’s not linked to from other pages.

When spidering a domain, the Crawler will examine all links within a page to discover URLs that are part of the domain submitted to the engine and also adhere to any configured path rules (see question 2 above). If content exists within a site that is not linked to from another known page, within the site’s navigation menu, or listed on a domain’s sitemap, chances are Swiftbot will not be able to locate it.

One of the best ways to ensure our Crawler is able to index all desired content is to include a current sitemap. Sitemaps are files that are typically stored at the root of a URL domain and contain a list of links to pages on their site(s) that are available for crawling. Our documentation for sitemap support and installation notes can be found here.

B. Improperly configured canonical URL elements/tags.

A canonical link element is often used like a meta tag, in order to prevent duplicate content indexing issues by pointing web crawlers to the preferred (or canonical) URL version of a web page. A scenario that can occur is that a customer’s site content is configured with static canonical tags that all point to the root domain URL.

Due to this misconfiguration, even if the crawler finds links to all the content on the site, it is being given instructions that all pages on the site are another version of the home page. With that directive in place, only the home page will be indexed. If the customer re-configures or removes those elements, a recrawl will be able to index their content successfully.

For best practices on canonical elements, you can refer to Google’s documentation here.

C. The content is being excluded by one of the methods noted in question 2.

Just as with misconfigured canonical link elements, misconfiguration or conflicts in a customer’s path or robots rules can cause pages to be skipped over.

4. My site is password protected / behind a firewall / hosted on our company’s intranet.

It is possible for Swiftbot to crawl secured content, but you’ll first need to make minor configuration changes to your web or intranet site’s host server.

All Swiftype accounts have an account specific User-Agent ID string. By whitelisting this identification string with your server, you can allow, or disallow, crawlers access to your site’s content.

Swiftype has a unique security feature where we encode our crawler’s User-Agent with a secure key that is uniquely tied to your Swiftype account. This approach enables you to limit access solely to Swiftype’s crawler, and is an extra level of security many customers enjoy.

If you’re interested in using the Swiftbot web crawler to access your secured content, please contact our support team and we’ll be happy to supply you with your account specific User-Agent ID string.

Hopefully these answers to commonly asked questions will point you in the right direction. If you ever have questions, suggestions, or feedback, you can always email [email protected] to reach our team. We’re happy to help!

On the Search: Roanoke College Implements Swiftype

roanoke-college

On the Search: Michael Santoroski, Director of Web and Software Development

Roanoke College was ranked 2nd on the 2014 U.S. News and World Report list of Up-and-Coming National Liberal Arts Colleges. As the Director of Web and Software Development, Michael Santoroski was tasked with improving the college’s site functionality, after a site redesign. The initial search solution was not returning the desired results and with so much on the line after a complete site overhaul, search was critical to help visitors find their way around a newly designed website.

Today we discussed the ease of implementing Swiftype and the biggest impact it has had on both their internal and public-facing sites.

What kind of challenges with search did you face before Swiftype?

Roanoke is a small college with about 2,000 students.  Like many colleges, we don’t have the resources to have the latest technology, but we needed to improve our on-site search experience because our site serves such a wide range of audiences. From prospective students, current students, faculty, and alumni – search is often the fastest way for them to find answers to their questions.

We were using Google’s Custom Search Engine, but it was no longer meeting our needs. The tool wasn’t flexible enough for our site and wasn’t producing the results we expected.

What were your “must-haves” for search during your evaluation?

Two things were really critical for us. Weighted search and being able to rank search results was key for us. Secondly, the type-ahead feature was really important to me. It just made searching so much better when Google first implemented it for the web.

With a limited IT team, I was also looking for a solution that would be easy to implement. I like that it’s a crawler-based solution. I just had to add our domain and set up probably took less than an hour to get it to a functioning state. Swiftype has really made installation as unobtrusive as possible.

What has surprised you the most with your new deployment?

The number of emails to our web support has been reduced to almost none. We were constantly getting emails through our contact page from users who couldn’t find content they were looking for, whether that be an upcoming course schedule or an event. As soon as we implemented Swiftype, the emails stopped…virtually overnight.

What new things did you find readers searching?

We had one instance where a faculty member told me she couldn’t find the academic catalog. I was in a meeting, so I went in and switched the search results around a little bit, but then she emailed me two days later and said “Oh, I found my problem, I was spelling it like British catalogue – with “gue”. So I just added that as a synonym and it’s fixed either way now.

That kind of on the fly customization really helps us keep our site search results relevant.

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

For higher education, it’s a little harder to quantify our success metrics in relation to site-search. It is all about ease of use. Swiftype does have an engagement module for that, but I haven’t really gotten to play with those. What we end up seeing in the admissions process is that a student comes back to the site over multiple sessions, and when they come to the site, each time they have a different objective.

On the flip side, you also have alumni who receive emails, come to the site looking for alumni events and rely on search. Ultimately those are visitors you want making donations to the college, so each type of visitor has different success metrics.

Higher Ed websites are difficult. The administration wants all kinds of content on the site, but students want something else, so there is a balance in terms of what information to show.

I think in a way, search has solved that problem. It’s one of those things that works great and I don’t worry about it too much. It just does exactly what I need it to do and doesn’t make me spend a lot of time fighting with it. When I’m in a meeting and someone says “I tried to search for this thing and I didn’t find it”, I can just go in there and easily make it happen. Make that be the top search result and it’s super easy to do, even I can’t screw it up.