Don’t Panic: Google Site Search Replacements
Ian Lurie Feb 22 2017
Google’s discontinuing site search.
OH GOD OH MY GOD WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO HOLY CRAP OH GOD
Google’s Site Search product has been around a long time. Pay $100, and you can embed a little Google search engine on your site.
They’re keeping Google Custom Search. Sounds great, but there’s a problem:
Where are the search results? They stuffed the top of the SERP with ads. Keep scrolling, and you’ll see Portent.com content. Why the hell would I want “SEOCompanies.com” showing up in a search on my site!!???? I don’t.
We’re going to need options. Here’s what I’ve got so far. No one’s paid me or promised me anything. I did all testing without talking to the provider:
Amazon Web Services CloudSearch
Amazon Web Services CloudSearch. Like a lot of AWS services, I find setting it up slightly easier than stuffing myself through a keyhole.
For example, if you’re using it for onsite search, you’ll have to set up a crawler to deliver site content to the search engine. Or, you can upload manually. Eesh. But I’m not a developer. This kind of gadgetry may be trivial if you’re more of a code geek than I.
They charge based on use. A small engine costs about $500 per year, max. It has a lot more options than Google, too.
If you’ve got the nerd-fu, go for it.
AddSearch is a nifty option. A small search engine (up to 1200 pages) costs $269 per year.
AddSearch automatically re-crawls your site. It doesn’t show ads. It has some nifty gadgets like social search integration. It’s an easy setup—no harder than Google, in my experience.
I messed with the free trial a long time ago. I couldn’t make it blow up. It supports SSL (assume that for any available search engine).
I haven’t yet used Swiftype. Mostly because the smallest version costs $299/month. Cough.
But it looks like a powerhouse: Spell check, API, field weighting, geographic targeting, sorting, bigrams… (insert more nerdy stuff here).
Note that the basic $299/month version doesn’t include some of the cooler features. Still, it’s pretty kick-ass. If you have a big site and need an enterprise option, consider shelling out the cash.
Remember that Google Custom Search was a ridiculous bargain with some arse-kicking limitations. $299/month seems like a lot. But read the docs and use the trial before you rule out Swiftype.
If you’ve used Swiftype, please leave a comment.
Cludo is another one I haven’t tried. They’re mum on pricing, which tells me they’re probably pricey. I talked to a few developers, though, and they seemed happy with it (they didn’t know what their companies paid). Cludo offers a lot of the same features as Swiftype. I’d include them in your research list when you look for options.
I’ll be trying them out shortly.
Update: Cludo published pricing here. Their starting package is similar to Swifttype: $299.
I tried Algolia over the weekend. On WordPress, it was a super-easy setup: Install plugin and go. It costs $49/month with a free trial to start. It can also accept a JSON feed of search records. I haven’t delved that deep, but I’d say thumbs up.
I love Solr. It’s free. It’s faster than money at a casino (I have no idea what that means). For me, it’s slightly easier than setting up AWS CloudSearch. And it includes a crawler.
It runs on your server. That’s part of why it’s so freaking fast. But that also means you have to have access to your server.
Some hosts provide Solr. Do a quick Google search. I don’t want to play favorites, and I haven’t used any.
Did I mention it’s free?…
Platform-Specific Options and Other Geekery
WordPress has a built-in search tool. Forget it.
Django has a built-in tool I haven’t used. Drupal’s search module works a little better than guessing.
Hosting providers often have their own. Use with caution.
Growing the List
I’ll revisit this list in the next week or so, and keep adding more options. We’re gonna need ’em.
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More