Site search is the functionality that enables users to search for a given website’s content or product catalogs with speed and relevance. A great site search function is tailored to a specific website. While not everyone utilizes a website’s search functionality, those who do are looking for something specific and expect to find answers quickly and easily. If people are on your website and using the search feature, they are obviously interested in what you have to say or in what you’re selling, so catering to them is important. If your search function is weak, users may leave your site, meaning you’re losing a customer — and that is simply unacceptable.
Importance of Site Search
Websites like Google and search-centered websites like Amazon and YouTube are an integral part of our experience on the internet. So it’s not surprising that when it comes to searching individual websites for products, content, or information, visitors expect the same level of ease and speed that these sites offer.
Search has been found to be the preferred form of content discovery over navigation. In fact, research has found that an accurate site search can improve conversions. So it is a no brainer to have a robust search feature on your website, whether it be for improving UX or for content discovery.
There are additional benefits to having a search bar on your website. It will give you insights on what your users are looking for and specifically what queries they use. This gives an added advantage when working on your website’s SEO. Site search analytics can go a long way in improving your website and is often overlooked.
An unsatisfactory search can also lead to users abandoning your website. If a search does not return the expected result, then it is often perceived that you do not have what the user was looking for. This magnifies the importance of having a search that gives accurate results quickly.
Google Site Search and Beyond
Google site search was the go-to product for a lot of website developers to add a custom search engine to their website. But Google decided to sunset the product in April 2017 and shut down GSS completely a year later. This has left a lot of website owners looking for alternatives to Google Site Search.
People trusted GSS to work out of the box, giving them a Google standard search service on their website. It gave features like multi-language support, Google’s ranking algorithm and more and could be integrated with ease. Since developing a search from scratch is not the best way to go about it and getting the quality that Google provides is not a simple task, GSS replacement can be hard to find. Google’s own solution to this is Google Custom Search. It provides a similar feature set for free but will display ads on your website. It hasn’t been able to gain as much traction or bridge the gap left by Google Site Search.
The conventional way to go about building a search engine was to take a for from an existing open source project like Solr or Elastic search and then build the required features and the UI to add on a website. This was by no means an easy task and would often involve heavy developer costs. And just because GSS got shut down doesn’t mean that you have to go back to it!
Building a Custom Site Search Engine
Making a search engine is easier than ever before. With hosted search-as-a-service providers taking up the pain of building most of the search engines, the end-users’ role is limited to adding an HTML code snippet on their website to take the search live.
Here we will visit the steps required to add the ExpertRec site search engine to your website. This is one of the easiest setup processes of all the available options out there and is highly recommended.
- Navigate to https://cse.expertrec.com/newuser?platform=cse and signup with your Google ID.
- Enter your website’s URL when prompted. You can select a server location near you and add the URL of your sitemap if you wish to. These will be auto-detected otherwise.
- You can play around with the settings and customize the UI as the crawl runs. Once it is complete, you can check out a fully functional demo before taking the search to your website.
- You can take the search to your website with little to no effort. All you need to do is to paste the code snippet available on the dashboard on your website.
ExpertRec comes with more customization options that you can explore. You can read this article to find a more detailed guide on the installation and configuration.
What Solution is Best for You?
Not all site search platforms are created equal, and the price is only one of many factors. Look for a platform that offers all the features you need to provide an advanced search experience—both today and in the future, as your site grows. Here are some key features that make ExpertRec stand out from the rest.
- ExpertRec’s feature set is a superset of that of Google’s Custom Search Engine. That means you retain all the features you get with CSE and also get additional features.
- ExpertRec gives ranking control. You can specify how search results are ranked from a GUI without any coding.
- You can Customize the UI any way you want, either by using the GUI editor or by typing CSS the conventional way. You can leave it untouched as well since the default UI is pretty good.
- You will get priority customer support. Any issue raised will be deal with by a support team that will get the issues resolved quickly and effectively.
- Voice search on supported browsers. This is an exclusive feature not available in any other custom search engine.
- Site search analytics to see what your users are searching for on your website. This can with SEO on your website in addition to finding out the recent trends.
ExpertRec site search engine comes loaded with more features than the ones highlighted. You can take a look for yourself to see how expansive it is. From the point of customizability and a rich feature set, ExpertRec provides the best bang for the buck. Of course, the choice is up to you!