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.

Federated search using GSA

Federated search provides single point access to content distributed over multiple sources with various file types. In addition to providing single point access to the distributed content, the search results are returned in a uniform fashion with the possibility to sort, prioritize and filter the search results.

After setting up the GSA on premises the process of defining the sources for crawling and indexing is straightforward. The sources can vary from publicly available websites to servers located within the confines of the enterprise (or other organizations). The setup may also entail excluding specific information sources from the index.

After the crawler has indexed the content you can access it using a browser. Here the user can find a search box that looks similar to the search box Google offers for internet searches. While the search is ready you can enhance the search results with the following features:

  • Keymatch allows specifying a search term that shows first in the search results when the user searches with the defined search term.
  • Result biasing results allows influencing the ranking of specific domains to ensure that specific results are prioritized over other search results.
  • Filtering results allows narrowing down the search results based on language, filetype, and meta tags amongst other things.
  • Synonyms allows broadening the search with synonymous search terms and allow users to find results that would otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Segmenting the index allows to divide the index into sections and provide different search results to different users.
  • Document preview allows the user to see a thumbnail by hovering over the search result.
  • User Interface (UI) customization enables to customize the search UI.

Setting up the federated search for GSA consists of defining the domains for crawling. The features enhance the search results that thus provide the user with better search results.

The trending SaaS-platforms

The difference between GSA and AddSearch is in that GSA can crawl on-premise content in addition to domains located on the internet. AddSearch, however, operates using the SaaS model where the federated search uses cloud-based resources to serve the search results. Thus it doesn’t support on-premise search, unlike GSA.

This may not be a problem as the content, located on platforms such as Shopify, Hubspot, Zendesk and even DevOps related Heroku, is increasing. An excerpt from one of our earlier blog posts states that

“According to Blissfully SaaS trends, the number of enterprises spent on the SaaS subscription platforms increased in 2017 while, at the same time, there was a slight decrease in the subscriptions. Nevertheless, multiple SaaS subscriptions for an enterprise have become very common, which means that the fragmentation of the content has become more common as well.”

Federated search using AddSearch

You can set up the crawling for federated search with AddSearch with a couple of easy steps just. All you need to do is to log in to your Dashboard, go to Settings and under Additional domains add a domain for crawling. Visit here for further instructions

While the technical solutions and the names of the features may vary between GSA and AddSearch, the end result for the user making the searches is the same.

  • Keymatch can be accomplished with Hidden keywords.
  • Result biasing can be accomplished with Site areas.
  • Filtering results can be accomplished with Category filters.
  • Synonyms goes by the same name.
  • Document preview realizes as a thumbnail and a screen capture of the page.
  • User Interface (UI) customization can be modified in the Dashboards Settings under Look & Feel.

AddSearch also has other features you can use to enhance the search results:

  • Pinned results allows handpicking search results and arranging them for returning them first in the search results
  • Widget view allows the user to get instant search results while typing. You can see the Widget view on the right corner of the screen.

If you’re interested in setting up your search for better search results visit this blog post.

AddSearch & GSA comparison

 AddSearchGoogle Search Appliance
Multiple domains
Result biasing
Filtering results
Segmenting the index-
Document preview
UI Customization
Pinned results-
Widget view-


Federated search is a single search box solution. It makes allows to easily find the content from scattered sources. Since Google Search Appliance will be discontinued in 2019 there is a need for a replacement. AddSearch provides an excellent alternative for Google Search Appliance in terms of usability and features.

Set up a trial or contact our sales for our federated search.