The Swiftype Blog

“100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management”

Today, we are honored to announce that Swiftype has been named by KMWorld among the “100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management.” Given our recent focus on refining our site search solution for corporate knowledge bases, this recognition validates much of the hard work our team has put in over the last months.

Swiftype named among “100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management”

“Being named to our list of 100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management is a prestigious designation because it represents the best in innovation, creativity and functionality,” says KMWorld Editor Sandra Haimila. “The 100 Companies offer solutions designed to help users and customers find what they need whenever and wherever they need it … and what they need is the ability to access, analyze and share crucial knowledge.”

Over the last year, Swiftype has begun powering knowledge base search for several leading companies, including SurveyMonkey, HubSpot, and a Fortune 500 Technology and Entertainment company. These recent clients expand Swiftype’s already extensive base of knowledge base search customers, which includes Shopify, Asana, and many others.

For companies interested in learning more about the value of fast, customizable search for their knowledge base, check out Swiftype’s Knowledge Base Guide to Site Search Analytics, which discusses how agile customer support teams can leverage search analytics to make both their customers’ lives and their own lives easier.

Analytics Update: Insights

For long time users of Swiftype, our analytics dashboard has been one of the best places to go to learn more about what users are searching for, finding, clicking on, and even what they’re not able to find. While this information is all important, our latest update to analytics is designed to provide more actionable recommendations through what we call the Insights tab.

The Insights tab is located below the regular analytics tab within your Swiftype account, and some of the information available on the insights page is also surfaced on the main analytics page where relevant.

insights tab

The main goal of this page is to point out key areas where your search can be improved, including our traditional list of “top searches with zero results,” along with some new signals we’ve built in, such as “results with no clickthroughs” and “searches resulting in multiple clicks.” By presenting these new instances where search can be improved, along with a direct comparison to how these figures correspond to the time period that precedes it, the Insights tab emphasizes the value of steadily improving the performance of your search engine over time. With this intel in hand, you can take advantage of Swiftype’s core customization tools, including Custom Result Ranking, Synonym Sets, and algorithmic adjustments in the Weights tab.

insights on main analytics page

no results

While the specific meaning and importance of each of these insights will vary from site to site, our primary hope is that by presenting search analytics with a focus on steps for improvement rather than just a static data dump, we can make this section of the dashboard a page that you will continue to revisit on a regular basis. This update, along with a redesigned and improved weekly analytics email, should help our users keep a closer eye on what their users are searching for, how search is performing, and how search can be improved.

We encourage you to take a look at the Insights tab today, and as always, if you have any questions or feedback, please let us know.

Parse.ly and Swiftype Partnership

Swiftype is excited to announce a new partnership with Parse.ly

In our continued efforts to better serve online publishers and media companies, we are excited to announce a new partnership with Parse.ly—a leading provider of analytics and audience insights for digital publishers. Since hosting our first joint webinar in August, we have been continually impressed by the people, research, and insights that Parse.ly brings to the publishing space, and we’re excited to join forces with a clear industry leader.

As we’ve worked with the Parse.ly team, they have helped us better understand the publishing space and improve our product. At the same time, we’ve given Parse.ly an enriched perspective on the value of powerful site search for publishers. Through the collective power of our broad client base, this partnership will help both companies improve their offerings and keep our digital publishing companies happy.

“Partnering with Swiftype means that we’ll be even better equipped to help our clients meet the needs of their readers, whether through content analytics, recommendations, and now through a great search experience.”

Sachin Kamdar, CEO, Co-Founder, Parse.ly

With a wide range of product developments, joint research projects, and events planned, we’re excited for what this partnership will bring in the coming year. To learn more about Parse.ly’s unique analytics platform, visit their website.

New Help Center Search Implementation Checklist

Adding powerful search to your company knowledge base or help center is an essential step toward helping users resolve issues without filing tickets, but the process of implementation can often be a daunting first step. To make this process easier, we added a new resource to our website for customers looking to improve search on their help center or knowledge base.

15 Steps to Help Center Search Implementation

Last week, we added a new resource to our website for customers looking to improve search on their help center or knowledge base. Written with a non-technical audience in mind, 15 Steps to Help Center Search Implementation introduces readers to the most important questions that companies should familiarize themselves with before getting started, including:

  • What are the pros and cons of building search internally?
  • How long will implementing search take?
  • What team members are required to implement new search?
  • How can I evaluate the performance of a new search experience?
  • What ongoing work is required after implementing search?

With a step-by-step checklist that clearly lays out each phase of implementation, this resource will be an invaluable guide. Implementation is often an intimidating prospect with any new software, but with this guide in hand, your team will start with a much clearer sense of what needs to be accomplished and what team members will be involved.

To access the checklist, follow the download link below. To receive a personal demo of what Swiftype can do for your knowledge base or help center, contact us today.

Four Secrets to Extending the Shelf Life of Viral Content

Congratulations! You’ve got an article that is gaining lots of attention online and going viral. As you start wondering how to keep your article top of mind for as long as possible, consider taking advantage of these four web optimization secrets that take no time to implement.

1. Use your site search analytics to see which queries are generating the most engagement for your viral content.

It is now easy to find out what search queries your users are typing into your search box before they click on your viral article. Because this data is readily available today, you can now click into those queries and understand where your viral article is ranked in that search query’s results. Because this data is changing in real time, you can change your data range to get a better sense of which search queries are generating the most engagement with your article over time.

2. Placement of sharing buttons is important.

The only way a piece of content goes viral is if it’s shared. If your shared buttons are only in the header and footer, then you’re missing out on an opportunity for the reader to share your content WHILE they’re engaging with it. Make sure that this is done tastefully as users will quickly discount your content if you push it in front of their face too much.

3. Add top performing site search queries to your SEO strategy.

Even though this tactic is more acquisition than optimization, it’s important for you to consider taking your site search analytics data and conducting research to see where you rank for your top performing site search queries in Google.

4. Meaningful content evokes a willingness to share.

Readers only share content when they experience an emotion so strong that they just have to let someone know how they feel. For example, the ice bucket challenge went viral not only because it was so simple to do, but because it made everyone feel good because it was for a meaningful cause. But tapping into your audience’s emotions with meaningful content will get you well on your way to a long shelf life for viral content.

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.

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