The Swiftype Blog / Tag: site search

Search Quiz: How much do you know about search history and technology?

Search is playing an increasingly important role in our lives. Much of the world’s knowledge is now on the internet and search is the technology that unlocks that content, making it accessible with the stroke of a few keys. Here are a few data points about the growing volume of search queries and internet content.

  • Google handles about 63,000 searches per second (Source)
  • In 2016, Google handled 2 trillion searches, up nearly 70% from the year before (Source)
  • Researchers estimate that there are about 1 billion websites and 4.66 billion web pages (Source)
  • There was about 81.8 million WordPress blog posts published last month, a 27% increase from the previous year. (Source)

As the amount of information on the internet continues to grow, search researchers and companies will continue to innovate, leveraging technologies like AI to make search even more intuitive and relevant.

Swiftype Search Quiz: Top scorers get a t-shirt

At Swiftype, we like to think we know a thing or two about search, so we created a Search History and Technology Quiz. From the name of the first search engine to some of the key search algorithms, this quiz is a chance to test out your search knowledge.

How much do you know about search? Take the quiz here.

If you score in the top 10 percentile on the quiz, we will send you a free Swiftype t-shirt.

*Limit to one entry per participant during the contest period. Contest ends on Oct 31, 2017. Winners will be notified by email.

Secret Search Confessions:
From an Online Shopaholic

NOTE: This has been published anonymously to protect the author’s identity.

By day, I work as an administrative assistant for a hospital. By…the rest of the day…I’m what my friends fondly call an “online shopaholic.” But I’m so much more than just an online shopper—I’m a lifestyle curator. Don’t just take my word for it! My half a million Instagram followers would probably agree.

It’s about creating a lifestyle

I get a lot of new followers every day because I take my unofficial job pretty seriously. I don’t just go to the H&M website and buy the first thing I see on the homepage. Anyone can do that! I’m all about creating a cohesive and unique look out of pieces that no one else would even think could work together. That requires a lot of digging deeper into sites, and searching for some pretty specific items of clothing.

Some days, I’ll be looking for some new athletic gear, and I can go to a website like Beyond Yoga and find whatever I want super easily. Their search is just so user friendly, and seems to know me well enough to show me what it knows I want before I have to look for it. For example, one time I wanted a new pair of leggings, but I wasn’t sure what style. I started typing in “leg” but before I got any further the search box had automatically suggested 4 pairs of awesome-looking leggings. I saw a gorgeous pair that were white and adjustable that I just had to have.

So, Beyond Yoga also has this section at the bottom called “complete the look,” which basically means they suggest other clothes that can, well, complete the look. But on the leggings I was looking at, that section was EMPTY! They had no idea what to use to complete that look.

Time to complete the look

Good thing I’m a lifestyle curator huh? Kicking into action, I jumped over to one of my go-to shops, Teespring, because they tend to have a lot of quirky and unique designs that I like to use in my casual looks. I typed in “tank,” but there’s no autocomplete function, it’s just auto suggestions, and for some reason “tank tops” is all the way at the bottom of the list. It’s okay, not everything in life is going to come easy, right? (I think I read that on a bumper sticker.)

After scrolling down to the end of the list and clicking on the “tank top” suggestion, I was horrified to find that I had to look through all of their tank tops. That’s over 24,000 results I got back! And two of the top three weren’t even tank tops! One was a t-shirt, and one was a mug! Who knows how many of those 24,000 results were actually tank tops? I tried to filter the results a little more by adding “yoga” to my search, and it helped a little, but there were still almost 2,000 results I had to sort through. Many of the results were off-topic and had nothing to do with yoga, so after clicking a few more filter checkboxes (“tank top” – but really, why would I have to filter by “tank top” when I was obviously looking for tank tops?—and “american apparel”) I ended up with seven results to choose from. None of them really fit the look I was going for, so I tried again with a different brand. There were about 50 results for Gildan, and I found a couple of designs that might have worked, but I kind of felt like I was trying too hard to force one of those tank tops to fit the leggings at this point. So I gave up on Teespring.

No time for bad search

I decided to try another one of my go-to shops: Azalea Boutique. They usually have a lot of great styles and are pretty good about organizing their looks by “moods.” I do like to browse their moods for inspo sometimes, but their “sporty” looks were just not hitting what I wanted to do with mine. It’s getting a little cooler, so I thought it would be cute to add a nice long sweater to my look. So I typed “sweater” in the search box and all these beautiful options showed up before I even hit enter. The first one looked really good: a beautiful white and black striped knit sweater, so I clicked on that. But on closer inspection it didn’t really go with the look I was curating, but they had some great suggestions right below it and one of them, the Longline Hoodie, was perfect! They basically did the work for me.

Last item: shoes. I used to love Quicksilver’s shoes, but after too many frustrating searches, I decided I needed better. My new go-to is FYFO. They’re from England, so they have different words for things. Good thing I’m a citizen of the world, so I know I’m looking for “trainers” instead of “sneakers.” Before I even finished typing the word, I found THE ones: Pineapple Mara Hi Tops. They were gorgeous, and they fit my look perfectly.

Some days are more frustrating than others, but that usually depends on how easy it is to search and use the filters for the online shops I like. If a store’s search sucks, I’m definitely not going to waste my time scrolling through thousands of items of clothes. I’m a pretty patient person, but ain’t nobody got time for that.


Don’t risk your customers giving up on your products. Try Swiftype today.

Livin’ the Dream: Swiftype Joins Dreamforce 2017

Over the past two decades, Salesforce has become an undeniable stronghold in the Bay Area tech scene. But if there were any clear indicators of its widespread influence and fandom, it would absolutely be the behemoth of trade shows fondly know as Dreamforce.

A massive gathering of Salesforce’s customers, partners, and enthusiasts, Dreamforce is an annual culmination of thought leadership, innovation, and community all celebrating the world’s largest cloud ecosystem. It’s always the must-attend event of the year.

Still not convinced?

  • Sessions: Touting 2700+ sessions spread across all roles and industries, attendees have access to cutting-edge, up-close, information and exposure to the latest products and solutions.
  • Speakers: Not only are world-renowned leaders and Salesforce experts poised to speak on how to transform your business, hands-on training from the same experts is available to ensure user success.
  • Solutions: Finally, hundreds of Salesforce partners are showcased in the Customer Success Expo. who’ve built solutions that easily integrate with Salesforce and amplify its efficiency, productivity, and power.

Swiftype Joins the Ranks!

Swiftype is excited to sponsor Dreamforce for the first time this year. Our team will be joining the Customer Success Expo to show you first-hand how you and your team can connect your Salesforce universe and super-charge your productivity with Swiftype Enterprise Search and Site Search. Deliver AI-powered, highly-relevant results in a single search experience all without leaving your Salesforce environment.

Come join us and 170,000 of your closest friends for four days of career transformation, innovation, giving back, and community connection at the largest software conference in the world. It’s definitely going to sell out, so make sure you register now to secure your spot!

Looking to save a little $$ on your conference pass? We’ve got you! Use code D7EMSWFT when registering for your Full Conference Pass and you’ll save a quick $100!

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

When it comes to solving issues, customers prefer self-service

Studies have shown that a majority of a company’s customers prefer to solve problems themselves rather than reaching out to a representative. For this reason, customer support search is incredibly important to help those individuals find the information they’re looking for.

Better customer support through search

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.

Asana, Twilio, and SurveyMonkey have been successful with focusing their help centers around search. To highlight some of the key strategies they’ve used, we created this Customer Support Search infographic.


Get Started with Swiftype

Want to try Swiftype Customer Support Search for yourself? You can learn more on our website or sign up for a free trial.

On the Search: National Drug Screening Implements Swiftype

Located in Melbourne, Florida, National Drug Screening (NDS) helps employers reduce liability, improve safety, and attract and retain better employees by providing a broad range of drug testing services and training. The company’s leadership built NDS into one of the leading sources on drug testing information, and much of that knowledge forms the basis of their extensive and information-filled website.

But after years of using Google Site Search to help their customers tap into this knowledge, they saw its demise as a potential roadblock to their continued online success. After struggling through a short-lived customized site search, they knew they needed a packaged solution that would not only outshine Google Site Search, but would be easy to buy, implement, and manage.

Here, Joe Riley, President of National Drug Screening, shares his experience of how site search is critical to his business, and how Swiftype turned a potential sales nightmare into an opportunity to elevate NDS’s already stellar reputation.

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

When we heard that Google Site Search was being discontinued, and that the replacement, Google Custom Search Engine, would force us to show advertisements, we knew we needed to find something else. For a potential customer to search our site and see ads, well we didn’t want that at all.

Our web development vendor took a shot at building a custom site search replacement, but it just wasn’t robust enough for our needs. Our value is in our expertise and our knowledge, so we need visitors to find what they’re searching for. A good site search is a requirement for us.

So we looked around for another Google Site Search alternative. Our “must haves” were that it was as good as or better than what we had with Google, that the price was reasonable, and that it was easy for our developers to implement. We had the same criteria we had for Google Site Search.

What made Swiftype stand out as the obvious choice?

Once we found Swiftype and looked at how it worked on some [of their] customers’ websites, we didn’t look any further. It did everything we needed, Swiftype is a reputable company, and the sales team was very professional. We decided that, if we’re going to do this, this is the company we’re going to do it with.

What I was really excited about was when I went to a Swiftype customer site. I searched for something, and results came up. I searched again, but maybe this time with the terms spelled incorrectly, or words out of order, and the results came up as expected. That’s what sold me on it, and I was very happy to see how great it worked on a real site, not just in a demo.

How long was the Swiftype implementation?

Not very long. Once our web developers got started, Swiftype implementation took just a couple of days.

That short timeframe was pretty amazing, considering our website is totally custom. It’s not a WordPress site. We have our own content management system for blogs and frequently asked questions (FAQs), and we have our developers do everything custom. But once we told them we wanted Swiftype, they really had no issues at all.

Now, when a visitor clicks on our search icon, it looks just like it did before. The color scheme, the search box. Everything matches. It looks like it’s always looked, and that’s great.

Do you have plans to use Swiftype’s analytics?

We definitely do have plans to dig into Swiftype analytics, and we’re sure it’ll bring more value to our search.

Our web traffic comes from both organic search and paid ads, but our organic search results really overpower all of our competitors because our content is so strong. Our content is relevant and unique, and we want to leverage that. We want people to be able to find it. If they found our site, but the search was weak and the couldn’t sift through the great content that we have, then we’re missing a huge opportunity.

Swiftype can give us the insights to know more about what’s bringing visitors to our site, what they’re looking for, what they’re finding and reading.

Why is good site search so important for you and your customers?

We want National Drug Screening to continue to be recognized as one of the leading experts on drug testing in the United States. So when visitors come to our website, they find the information they need. We want to be their source for expert information, and obviously that then translates into sales opportunities.

Just as importantly, we also want more of our own employees to be seen as experts. We take inbound phone calls all day long, hundreds of phone calls, so our staff gets all kinds of questions. They’re well trained, but they can’t recall everything. They can, however, utilize the expertise on our website as a primary resource rather than doing a web search and maybe getting a good answer or not. Then they can talk to that prospect or customer very intelligently, and be confident that they’re sharing the most reliable information.

Using site search internally is critical, since those inbound calls are usually either an existing customer or someone looking to buy. It gives our staff a huge library of expertise right at their fingertips, and it helps turn them each individually into experts on our particular market.

What’s the primary value you’re realizing with Swiftype?

Our goal is to be able to assist customers, to be able to assist people who are looking for information, or people that are potentially new customers. We want people to know that we have great information on all things drug testing. Getting them the right answers quickly, whether on our website or on the phone, helps us grow our business, and that’s obviously very important.

Want to learn more? Our customers have great stories about how Swiftype helped them accomplish great things with more sophisticated site search. Check it out now!

Secret Search Confessions:
From a Prospective College Student

NOTE: This has been published anonymously to protect the author’s identity.

I’m currently a high school junior and applying to and attending a top college is a really big deal to me. As for what I want to study, I’m really interested in a few fields including Economics and Applied Math. Not to brag, but I’m currently second in my class and I recently scored a 34 on my ACT, so I’m in a pretty good position to be admitted to most schools I’m interested in.

Eyes on the prize

Some universities must agree because it seems like everyday I get an email or postcard from a college with a picture of a pristine building and happy students in front of it. Mail is great and everything, but I hardly ever follow up with these schools that send me hard copies of information. I already know where I want to go; it’s really just a matter of comparing the pros and cons of those schools.

Since I know what I want, research is key. I’m already considering a few state universities with over 30K students as well as some smaller, private schools with less than 10K. While I’m trying to get advice from friends, family, and mentors on how these college experiences vary, I’m also doing a lot of research on my own. Only problem is, I keep running into this one issue: finding information on these university websites is a nightmare.

In fact, it’s so difficult that I actually sometimes use Google to search the website by using the Google site command like this: school mascot.

The nagging content discovery problem: aka why I can’t find anything

So, I’m relatively sure it’s not that these schools don’t have the information I’m looking for on their website. It seems like they actually have more than enough content and if I kept digging, I’m sure I’d eventually be able to find what I was looking for. It just seems to take FOREVER. For example, if I want to navigate to find information about student clubs or freshman living options on a college’s website, I almost always have to click around 3-4 times, on multiple pages before I find even remotely the right answers.

When I opt to use the in-site search bar instead, it just typically returns a slew of random results and I have to scroll down and sift through to even begin to find what I’m looking for. I feel like I should be able to search for what I’m looking for and find it at the top of the results. Just like that.

This bad search stuff is annoying and in general, I usually don’t mind digging around. But there is some information that I can’t take a chance on. Some details I need to find quickly and just needs to be absolutely accurate.

Paying for college is why this matters

Although I’ve done well in high school and should (hopefully) be eligible for some substantial scholarships, I have to cover the bulk of my college expenses. I’m one of four in a middle-class family and college has become so expensive that my parents can’t cover tuition for me and all my siblings. Given my circumstances, I need to know the complete and accurate ins and outs of need-based financial aid packages as well as merit-based scholarships.

Although I can mostly piece together the information by browsing a college’s website, it would be much easier if I could enter “need-based financial aid” or “scholarship types” into the search box and know that I’ll get uber-relevant results returned. I know that schools give out nice packets with this information when you visit the campus but:

(a) these packets typically have a lot of fluff and you can’t search over physical documents

(b) I can’t visit all the schools I’m interested in

This is information is crucial for me. When I do find a seemingly relevant scholarship page on a school’s website, I need to make sure it’s the right one for my academic and financial qualifications.

To sum it up: In an age when basically all prospective college students are going to use their own research on university websites to potentially decide wether to apply, enroll, and attend, it seems like schools would make the investment to make it as easy as possible for students to find exactly what they need. But what do I know. I’m just the future.

 Upgrade your website search

Want to upgrade your website’s search and help people like Spencer find what they’re looking for? Join the University of Washington, Texas A&M, Duke, NYU and others in utilizing Swiftype Search to help their website visitors quickly find what they’re looking for.

Secret Search Confessions:
From an Ex-GSS User

NOTE: This has been published anonymously to protect the author’s identity.

First and foremost, I’m an engineer. I want to spend my time developing products and working on relevant projects. I might also be tasked with developing our website, which is fine, but literally the last thing I want to do is spin my wheels building or configuring custom website search. That seems pretty obvious. Totally agree that site search needs to work and work well, but it shouldn’t be a painful time-suck. I have better things to do.

Let’s say I did build it from scratch—the worst part by far would be the constant misconception that custom search is something that can be modified and optimized in a few minutes, (ahem, looking at you, Marketing.) This is a huge reason why I’ve personally avoided going custom. With the number of requests and the drain on back-end resources, it just doesn’t make sense for our team.

Historically, I’ve leaned on Google Site Search to fill that search gap. It’s been a long 11 years, and for much of that time I figured there wasn’t anything better out there. Honestly, I never even looked around that much. I was content. It met my needs. But lately, Google’s made some changes. Little changes. A lot of self-serving, little changes. And over time, those little changes have added up to a whole lot of frustration… and annoyance… and irritation. So, I’m pretty sure I’m done.

Honestly, one of the final nails in the coffin is that now that Google has made plans to actually kill off Site Search, their replacement, Google Custom Search Engine (CSE),  is being dangled out there as a “safety net” of sorts. A fall-back plan that just doesn’t seem to offer much more that what it’s replacing. In fact, it offers less. Yes, that’s right. Less. (Are you kidding me? What a joke.)

I want relevant results

Is it so much to ask that a site search tool be modern? One that’s built on a premise of helping my visitors search my site, not on serving ads or generating revenue for another company?

Google, like any company, is in the business of making (a lot of) money. And that’s great—When I want to find the highest-rated down pillow for my bed, the best day hike in Yosemite, or a lip-synced cat video, sure, I search Google. For every search, they give me uber-relevant advertisements from companies who pay them, (Companies who pay THEM.) They also happen to suck me in with convenient, free services (email, photo storage, access to a billion videos, etc.).

That’s all well and good for my personal interests and time, but at work, where my decisions impact the growth of my company and inevitably the future of my career (and my salary), I’m less interested in “free” and more interested in flexibility, control, and results.

I want my own branding

It’s completely insane that Google Custom Search Engine is going to allow ads from other companies to appear in search results on my website. Seriously, WTF? When visitors search on my website, I don’t want them to be bombarded by results from ANOTHER website, especially from any of our competitors. Yes, I know, that’s how Google makes money, and that’s what pays the bills for the cat videos I might be watching at my desk, but there’s no way that’s going to fly for our website.

On top of all that, it hilariously seems like Google completely forgot about the fact that search is, in fact, a tool. The ultimate goal is to control how to display/rank/promote the best content for visitors, right? This often puts Marketing and I at odds because that content changes rapidly and updates are requested frequently. Whether it’s ordering certain results by one attribute or promoting a specific piece of content for a particular search term, I need the flexibility to make these changes on the fly. I should be able to run our website the way I see fit, not the way Google does.

Without question, search should also fit in with the rest of our company’s brand and website design. A lot is invested in the overall branding, colors, logos, and web templates we use, so why would I want to slap a big Google logo on my search? Because I want more flack from Marketing? No. No one wants different formatting treatments on their search results. It just looks dumb.

I want the best visitor experience possible

In the end, we’re responsible for keeping our website visitors happy and engaged. Making sure they quickly and easily find what they’re looking for is obviously part of that. We want the best flexibility and control to make it our search. We want search to be an extension of our brand, another tool for us to guide visitors to what they want and how we want to provide it to them. But most of all, I want it to be simple, functional, and just work.

So, later, Google. Your site search options just aren’t enough anymore.


Looking for a better alternative that will allow you to customize your site search to be exactly what you’re looking for? Get a demo from the Swiftype team today and see what’s possible.

Welcome to Secret Search Confessions

With a world of information constantly at our fingertips, it’s easy to feel like we have it all: Instant answers, immediate feedback, easy instructions. The world is our knowledge oyster. But what if you didn’t know where or how to find the information you’re looking for? That content essentially becomes useless and sits distantly alone in the dark corners of the internet unread and unused.

But really…

What? That would never happen, you say? I can just search for it via a website search bar and find exactly what I’m looking for? Easy! No problem!

We all definitely take the ability to search for granted. We’re even quick to claim we can find what we’re looking for whenever we want. But we’ve all, without a doubt, had countless, frustrating, roundabout, dead-end search experiences that only lead us to stress-eating cartons of ice cream instead of to the actual info we needed.

Ok, let’s talk real life

Ever wondered what kind of impact a search bar can have on specific people’s lives? So have we. Join us in this 6-part series as we dive deep into the lives of everyday people who will share their unique struggles when it comes to finding information, the problems it caused, and ultimately how they overcame. From prospective college students, celebrity gossip readers, online shopaholics, to irate customers and even helicopter parents. To quote the infinite wisdom of R.E.M.—“Everybody hurts.”

Search that doesn’t work hits where it hurts for many people in many ways. Let’s walk in someone else’s shoes, shall we?

Stay tuned to the Swiftype blog to catch each installment over the next few weeks!

On the Search:  Connecticut State Library Implements Swiftype

Located in Hartford, the Connecticut State Library provides a variety of library, archival, public records, and other important information services for the state. Their mission includes holding digital archives from more than 70 departments and providing online access to searchable databases and digital collections.

After struggling with a generic site search tool, a new IT Analyst was charged with improving the experience for the library’s patrons. A unique challenge was that any new search solution had to combine information from not only the main website, but also from a separate, specialized platform for librarians.

Connecticut State Library IT Analyst, Jacqueline Bagwell, shares her experience of implementing Swiftype as the Library’s new site search solution:

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

As part of the improvement project, we moved to a WordPress platform for our site and used the integrated search tool. But that didn’t allow patrons to also search our subdomain, which is a separate content management platform built specifically for librarians. It was really important to include that content in our search because, otherwise, so much information would be undiscoverable by patrons.

Searching two different platforms created a unique situation for us, but it was critical to include results from both. We have information in our subdomain that isn’t available anywhere else, like death records and historical patents. That information is unique to the library, so we have to make it easily accessible.

What has surprised you the most with your deployment of Swiftype?

I think that the usage of search is so high and growing. But it’s nice that Swiftype was able to just handle it so easily. I’m looking at the big picture to make sure our resources don’t get stretched to our limits. Swiftype is able to handle search traffic that’s growing beyond our expectations.

Before Swiftype, I don’t think patrons had a good understanding of how they could get the information they wanted. And the patrons obviously like our new site search and use it. It’s being used way more than I thought it would be, and that’s a big jump from before.

What was your biggest challenge during your implementation?

It’s our volume of information across two domains and we’re adding new databases to make it more useful for the patrons. We have all the legislative information as well that comes over from the state capital that gets digitized. We have records that go back a long way, so there’s quite a lot. But we met our deadline and have been expanding ever since.

How are you using Swiftype’s analytics to improve the user experience?

We’re seeing search grow on a regular basis, which is good. Probably about three times per week, I look at reports on broken links, pages accessed, no-results searches. That last one helps me understand if the query was bad or if there was another issue with redirects or something else.

Is there a feature you can’t live without?

The fact that Swiftype can index both sites, that’s its most important aspect.

Swiftype Goes Platinum for HighEdWeb

It’s undeniable that colleges and universities face unique web and tech issues. A university’s website is an important intersection for its varied audiences who are all looking for different information. These diverse audiences create diverse challenges. Why not learn from and collaborate with other brilliant higher education web professionals to solve these problems?

Why HighEdWeb?

Join Swiftype at the annual HighEdWeb Conference in Hartford, CT this October. HighEdWeb is the premiere event created by and for higher education web professionals. Whether you’re a web developer, marketer, programmer, web manager, designer or writer you’ll be able to take advantage of this event’s unmatched professional development.

You’ll have endless opportunities to learn, share, and expand your professional network over a four-day period. Reconnect and meet new peers at the kick-off Welcome Reception at City Steam on Sunday 10/8. Jump start your conference by selecting from 100+ high-quality sessions, presentations, and keynotes featuring internationally-recognized speakers. Explore the expo hall and learn about the latest tech available to solve web challenges currently facing the higher ed community. And finally pop into the Big Social Event on the final conference evening at the Connecticut Science Center where you’ll be able to explore four floors containing 150 hands-on exhibits.

The HighEdWeb Conference is hosted by the Higher Education Web Professionals Association: an international organization of web professionals working at varied institutions of higher education. While their highly-active community is year-round, everything annually culminates at the HighEdWeb Conference.

Platinum’s have more fun

Swiftype is excited to be a Platinum sponsor at HighEdWeb this year. We know that delivering content efficiently to your website audience can be complicated when your visitors range dramatically from prospective to current students, faculty, parents, alumni and donors. We’re looking forward to sharing why web developers at institutions such as NYU, Azusa Pacific, and St. Mary’s University realized that website search is key to making the right information accessible to these audiences and why they chose Swiftype Site Search to gain more powerful, customizable, and accurate search.

Register today and join HighEdWeb at the Connecticut Convention Center. But if you want to get ahead of the curve, learn more about Swiftype Site Search now

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