8 Google Search Appliance Replacement Questions Answered

Google has announced that Google Search Appliance (GSA) will be discontinued. According to Google, Google Search Appliance will reach the end of its life (EOL) in 2019. The exact date depends on the license agreement made with GSA customers. Thus many organizations, whether public or private, are required to find a replacement for GSA.

Clip art of Google Search Appliance Stack.Finding a replacement for GSA may seem like a daunting task. Setting up an on-premise device, such as GSA, from scratch has required technical expertise from hooking up and configuring the device to get the search running.

Migrating from GSA, however, may be a lot easier than you might think. You can acquire a fully-featured search solution as a service which provides features similar to GSA. Furthermore, the search as a service provides support for setting up the search as well as the development of new features GSA may have lacked.

In this article, we will address concerns many representatives of organizations using Google Search Appliance have had. The article introduces the most common questions and answers them. You can see the questions and answers in the table below.

Does AddSearch support 
1. Indexing by crawling, no integration needed?
2. Crawling and indexing content behind a login?
3. Crawling and indexing of multiple domains and platforms?
4. Search filtering and faceted search filtering?
5. User administration?
6. Index PDF and Microsoft Office documents?
7. Migrating from GSA?
8. Developing features on request to meet customers' special requirements?

1. Google Search Appliance didn’t need integration. How about AddSearch?

Just like Google Search Appliance, AddSearch indexes domains by crawling which means that no integration is needed. If you’re not familiar with what crawling and indexing are here is a short description of how the process goes:

Crawling refers to a process of following and collecting links from a website. Crawling is carried out by an application called the crawler. The process, in short, proceeds as follows. The crawler

  1. visits a web page,
  2. searches the web pages for links to other web pages,
  3. follows the links to the other web pages and,
  4. iterates until it can’t find more links.

Indexing refers to the process where the content from the web pages, found by the crawler, is saved to the database which is organized as an index that can be accessed by the search engine.

The traditional crawling works on static websites, where the crawler can find the contents from the page source. AddSearch also supports AJAX crawling for Javascript-heavy websites where the contents are generated dynamically. To find out more, visit our earlier post on Ajax crawling.

2. Does AddSearch index content behind a login?

AddSearch can crawl and index content that requires a login and password just like Google Search Appliance. However, there are some differences between AddSearch and GSA on the accessibility of the indexed content.

According to Google Search Appliance Help –pages GSA determines whether the user performing the search is authorized to view each document before it displays results. What this means is that for the user to be able to search the crawled and indexed content behind a login he or she has to be logged in to the authorized area of the web site.

AddSearch differs from GSA in that the services reside in the cloud unlike GSA, which is an on-premise device. Thus, filtering access to the authorized content differs from GSA.

3. Does AddSearch support the crawling and indexing of multiple domains and platforms?

Similarly to Google Search Appliance, AddSearch supports the crawling and indexing multiple domains which means that the content is accessible from a single search point. This is also referred to as federated search.

As an on-premise device, Google Search Appliance can crawl and index multiple private domains that reside on the same premises. GSA can also crawl and index multiple domains that can be accessed from the internet.

As our previous article on federated search points out, crawling and indexing multiple domains is a crucial feature; the content is scattered across multiple SaaS platforms such as Shopify, Hubspot, Zendesk and even DevOps related Heroku.

4. Does AddSearch support search filtering and faceted search filtering?

Both AddSearch and Google Search appliance support enhancing the search results with search filtering and faceted search filtering.

Filtering in this context refers to including specific areas from a domain or domains in the search results and excluding others. For instance, you could use a filter that includes the blog posts in the search results.

Faceted filtering refers to a search where the user can narrow down the search results filtering with multiple filters that affect each other. An example of a faceted search filtering would be to narrow down the search to blog posts from a single author with a specific date range.

5. Does AddSearch support user administration?

AddSearch and Google Search Appliance support user administration with user accounts that have different user privileges.

Google Search Appliance has two levels of user accounts. They are the administrators and the manager user accounts. By default, Google Search Appliance allows one administrator account on each search appliance device.

GSA administrators have privileges to create user accounts and access to system level functions. Managers have access to functions for managing the content.

Similarly to GSA AddSearch has two levels of user accounts, those of administrator and the user account. All users have access to crawling, indexing and search-related functionalities which they can use to enhance the search results. All users have access to statistics as well.

In addition to the before mentioned, the administrators can manage users (add, remove, promote). As AddSearch operates using the SaaS business model, the administrator also has access associated to billing and contact information of the subscription.

6. Does AddSearch support indexing PDF and Microsoft Office documents?

In short, AddSearch can index PDFs and doc, docx, ppt, pptx Microsoft Office documents.

7. Does AddSearch provide support for migration?

AddSearch provides prioritized support for migrating from GSA for enterprise customers. Planning and executing the migration usually takes several weeks and AddSearch’s support team works closely with the customer to make sure the search is deployed on time and delivers relevant results. AddSearch also provides tech and customer support after the migration.

In addition to the prioritized support, AddSearch supports all the customers with the documentation found from our pages. We have divided the support into Documentation, API references as well as the helpdesk where you can reach us via email.

8. Does AddSearch develop new features on request?

AddSearch can develop new features on request to meet enterprise customers special requirements. Development of a new feature requires a separate agreement.

Google Search Appliance replacement as a service

Replacing Google Search Appliance with AddSearch provides features you would expect from GSA – and more. It also comes with a dedicated team who provides you with their expertise which entails planning and executing the migration from GSA that matches your business goals. AddSearch can even come up with new features you were missing before.

What Is AJAX Crawling?

An increasing number of websites make heavy use of Javascript frameworks such as React, AngularJS, Vue.js, Polymer, and Ember. Crawling Javascript-heavy websites poses challenges as the content for these sites is dynamically generated, and crawlers have the ability to collect content only from static websites.

Picture of a text editor displaying source code.
Javascript (source: www.maxpixel.net)

Websites that utilize data transfer from the server and rendering the content asynchronously with Javascript are referred to as AJAX websites and the act of crawling these sites as dynamic or AJAX crawling. AddSearch supports AJAX crawling but if you’re looking for ways to make your Javascript-heavy website crawler friendly for other search engines head on over to the next sections of this article and find out more.

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What are the requirements for an enterprise search?

Enterprises produce vast amounts of content and enterprise search helps to find the content. What are the requirements for an enterprise search?

Picture of a tablet with search results and the AddSearch logo.

Enterprise content comes in different document types which are required to be traced back to a specific date as well as stored securely. Furthermore, the enterprises need to distribute the content to the right people – whether enterprise employees or customers of the enterprise.

Enterprise content management (ECM) has processes and methods which it uses to organize the enterprise content. While ECM takes care of organizing and distributing the content, the right users should find the relevant content. Enterprise search falls under the umbrella of ECM. It renders the enterprise content searchable and makes finding the content a breeze.

When we consider what kind of content enterprises produce and how they manage the content, we can determine what capabilities enterprise search should have. We found the following set of requirements an enterprise search should meet.

The capability to crawl and index

  • Multiple domains
  • Enterprise content behind a firewall or login
  • Multiple document types (PDFs, Microsoft Office documents)

The capability to filter search results

  • Using date ranges
  • Based on relevant categories
  • Based on document types
  • With combining filters (faceted search)

In this article, we will discuss whether AddSearch meets the requirements of an enterprise search as part of ECM.

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Search Expert’s Guide to Google Search Appliance Alternatives

Google announced that it would discontinue the Google Search Appliance (GSA) in 2019. However, what is GSA? It is a piece of hardware coupled with Google’s algorithms used for indexing and searching the content from multiple sources, those of private and public servers. The device itself is a server in a yellow casing, manufactured by DELL.

Picture of a Google Search Appliance on a stand.

Google Search Appliance (source: Wikimedia).

GSA can index an impressive number of different content types. The search results can be filtered, and the search requests made by the users can be analyzed. The user interface for GSA is the browser, and it can be accessed on a dedicated domain.

The reason why many companies chose GSA was that they wanted their enterprise search to work just like Google. GSA was easy to set up and required only little technical expertise to maintain.  

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The Shockingly High Cost of Poor Site Search

Most organizations can improve their websites by implementing a simple 5-minute “hack”.

This hack works regardless of whether your website is focused on bringing leads and sales, providing customer service, or even if it’s your municipality’s website.

The hack is called site search.

Without proper site search, your website could be leaking sales or in other ways end up costing more than you realize.

Put simply a visitor who cannot find the information they’re looking for on your website is unlikely to convert – and similarly, customers who struggle to find solutions can also generate costly support tickets and calls.

Many businesses and website owners neglect site search, and even fewer give it the resources it truly deserves. This can end up costing them dearly.

Bad search likely costs you sales and leads – without you even knowing it

AG Consulting has discovered that visitors are most likely to use search when they’re looking for specific information, or when they can’t find what they’re looking for through regular navigation.

Picture of vendor shortlists.

According to Forrester Research, half of all B2B buyers now create vendors shortlists based on information available on vendors’ websites – without ever communicating with anyone in the organizations.

If you don’t make the information easily available, these prospectors may never find the information they’re looking for, resulting in your company not making the cut. A lack of great site search tools could cost you sales and leads without you even getting the chance to make a pitch.

Search users are among your most valuable users

For ecommerce and transactional websites, search users are among the most valuable users to visit your site. Site search users are usually in the later stages of their own buying cycle. They’ve gathered the information they need, and they’re now comparing providers in order to make a purchase. In other words, they know exactly what they want, and they’re on a mission to find it.

Picture of a graph that show search users are closer to conversion.

eConsultancy reports of a study examining site search usage on more than twenty niche ecommerce websites. They found:

  • When search is used, it increases conversions. Average conversion rates across all websites measured in at 2.77% – but site search users converted at 4.63%. Site search is 1.8x more effective at producing conversions.
  • Site search users are also likely to buy more. 5.75% of all overall visitors used site search – but those visitors accounted for 13.8% of total revenue.
  • Additional research by BloomReach has shown that 15% of total visitors use site search, but these visitors account for 45% of all revenue.

Studies have also shown that it’s not enough to simply offer site search – you must offer customers a high-quality search experience, or risk losing them. Forrester reports that as many as 68% of shoppers would not return to a site that provided a poor search experience.

Potential customers can now use site search to evaluate your entire product offering, based on the information you offer online. Make sure they can find what they are looking for.

Good site search improves customer self-service and reduces costly support tickets and calls

A study by Parature showed that 84% of customers want to solve their own problems using search engines. They’re keen to use self-service to find their own answers, before reverting to raising support tickets or calling customer service departments. These can be costly and time-consuming – not only for your business but for your customers, too.

Picture customers that can't find answers turn to customer support.

Good site search improves your visitors’ ability to find the answers to their questions, boosting your customer support capabilities enormously. 41% of users have said the most important aspect of good customer service is getting issues resolved quickly. Site search gives your customers the tools to do just that.

Site search is also vital for public organizations

Site search is incredibly useful for business websites, but public organizations are also discovering the advantages of these tools. Public organizations and municipalities face an array of challenges when building their websites, including:

  • Providing up-to-date, accurate information for users
  • Making enormous amounts of informations accessible and easy to find
  • Cultivating a sense of trust with users

Giving users the tools they need to sift through these colossal databases and find the information they need is essential.

Picture which arguments site search making information accessible to municipal websites.

A 2012 study by Auburn professors found that, as with online businesses, if users can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to revert to ‘traditional’ means of communicating with a public organization, which can be extremely costly. Fielding telephone calls and dealing with citizens face to face strains limited budgets unnecessarily – considering that the same information and services could have been delivered online.

Good website usability has been proven to increase users’ trust in a governmental or municipal website. The professors at Auburn also conclude that site search is a vital part of that good web usability that creates a sense of trust and reliability.

Common site search mistakes

Despite so much evidence that shows how vital a good site search is, millions of websites still provide the most rudimentary search options for their customers. Some of the most common site search mistakes include:

  • Being unable to adapt to synonyms or alternative phrases for the same products. As many as 70% of site search tools require searches in the website’s own jargon.
  • Not having the ability to translate abbreviations or symbols. 6 in 10 site search options are unable to tell the difference between the word ‘inch’ and the inch symbol – “.
  • Autocomplete problems. Autocomplete or auto-suggestion tools can be great if used appropriately, but 36% of websites which use autocomplete have serious usability and relevance issues.

Keys to good site search experience

We’ve established that a great site search experience can increase revenue and reduce costly support tickets. So how can you make your users’ site search experience the best it can possibly be? Kath Straub advices to:

  • Make relevant results your priority. You should be aiming to ensure that users find the right results for their search on the very first attempt.
  • Understand the terms your users are searching for, and make provision for those.
  • Help your users to better formulate their search queries by providing templates or collections of pre-selected popular keywords.
  • Be sure to accommodate typos, spaces, punctuation, symbols, synonyms, alternative phrases and common spelling errors.
  • Don’t rely on your advanced search features to give users what they want – visitors shouldn’t have to dig that deep into your website to find what they need.
Set up your search for better search results

By default, AddSearch provides you with excellent algorithms to return the most relevant search results for your visitor. However, there are special situations where the user needs to make certain results return first amongst the search results. In this article, we will look at how you can set up your search so that the most relevant content will appear on top of the search results. In other words, we will show you how to make your search results better.

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Searching for a Google Search Appliance replacement for federated search?
Picture of a Google Search Appliance on a stand.
Google Search Appliance (source: Wikipedia).

Google Search Appliance (GSA) has provided a federated search for enterprises and public organizations to find content scattered across the web as well as on premises. While GSA has served it’s users for a long time, Google has announced that it will discontinue the maintenance and the support for GSA in 2019 when the last of the customer support licenses for GSA expire. This leaves GSA customers without a federated search solution and an urgent need to find a replacement.

The change may seem daunting as Google Search Appliance has been a great investment. It entails the on-premises installation and configuring the network settings to connect GSA to the web as well as to the existing infrastructure. Needless to say that setting up GSA has required technical expertise.
Setting up a new federated search solution may not be technically as an involved project as is the case with GSA.  Many of the replacement options come as a service. This means that the service provider takes care of most of the technical details provided with support.

You can acquire federated search as a cloud-based service with versatile features for setting up the search for the most relevant results for your organization as well as for your visitors.

In this article, we will take a look at the features GSA offers and provide a comparison of what AddSearch, as a replacement option, has to offer. To make sure we’re on the same page we’ll first introduce what federated search is, how to set up a federated search using GSA and what features enhance the relevance of the searches. Then we will compare the setup and the features of AddSearch.

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Search Multiple Platforms With AddSearch

Addsearch logo in a word cloud.These days companies have accumulated content that is fragmented over multiple platforms. Companies might have a blog at WordPress or Medium, instructions, tutorials and FAQs in Zendesk or Intercom. Also, products and services may be located on e-commerce platforms such as Shopify.

Searching content from all of the various platforms separately may require extra effort, and the search results will most likely be in different formats. AddSearch provides a service where the content, fragmented over a variety of platforms, can be aggregated in a single index and rendered uniform for the users with a single search solution.

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Promotions drive traffic to the most important pages

Picture of a red megaphone.Would you like to take advantage of your search to drive traffic to the most important pages of your website?

Unlike search results, promotions are elements that you can create using the editor in your dashboard. The promotions you create, are always shown first before the search results.

The advantage of promotions is that it will appear first in the search results regardless of the keyword. You can also associate promotions to specific keywords. In these cases, promotions will be shown first when your visitor uses a certain keyword.

Each promotion is customizable. You can create a promotion with custom content and look & feel of your choice. This allows you to design a promotion that will stand out from the search results.

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How to add search to your static website?

Picture of static site generator and search engine logos.

Static Site Generators (SSG), such as Jekyll, Next, Nuxt, Gatsby, and Hugo provide a tool to create websites that consist of static pages. The common problem with static websites, however, is that they rarely come with a search functionality out of the box.

So how to add search to a static website? In short, generate an index from selected content of the pages of your site, create a search an API to have access to the index and create a user interface so your users can search the index and see search results on the web page.

While adding a search to a static web site should include at least these elements, you can implement the search with various methods. In this article, we will look at three different ways you can add search functionality to a static website.

  • First, we will go through the basic principles of setting up a search to a static website created with Jekyll.
  • In the second example, we will review the principles of a more advanced setup with a crawler, search engine as well as the search user interface (UI).
  • Lastly, we will introduce AddSearch’s fully featured Search as a Service (SaaS).


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