Swiftype Is Modern Site Search For Websites That Works In WordPress

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swiftypeSwiftype is a new simple search engine for your website.  Features of Swiftype include easy integration, detailed analytics, and custom result ranking.  There’s also a WordPress plugin.  Rarely these days do you read about a new search engine company.  Swiftype is worth writing about because its a fresh alternative in a market that hasn’t changed much in the last decade.

Likes

Creating a searchable site index using Swiftype is straightforward.  The interface is clean and professional.  Analytics data is easy to understand.  Search autocomplete is also useful.

The WordPress plugin may be Swiftype’s most compelling use.  High-traffic blogs require caching to reduce server load.  Search results can’t realistically be cached.  Search boxes that directly query a database are also a security risk.  Swiftype eliminates these issues.

Dislikes

Swiftype’s interface doesn’t contain any context-based help.  Most answers to my questions were in Swiftype’s very detailed documentation.  Finding the right tutorial and then reading through it was way too much hassle, though.  For example, I wanted an automatically generated list of my website’s ten most popular search queries.  Figuring out how to get that information required viewing the developer API, scrolling down to the Analytics API chapter, and then reading under Top Queries.  If nothing else, each section of the Swiftype interface should have a link to its corresponding documentation.

Customizable search results and indexing frequency could be better.  Customizable search result order requires knowing the exact search query.  That seems impractical because searches are commonly unique phrases and misspellings.  Indexing isn’t frequent enough for blogs.  Of the various pricing plans, the free tier recrawls once a week and the lowest paid tier once every two days.  New posts need to be indexed as soon as they are published.

Conclusion

Swiftype solves the problem of having site search without relying on a database.  For high-traffic blogs, that itself may be a compelling reason to use Swiftype.  However, it’s sparse interface and verbose documentation make getting the most from Swiftype too complex.  The customizable search results feature and indexing frequency both need some work.  Many websites also don’t have the visitor traffic to justify spending $49/month just for a search feature.  With some minor changes, I may eventually use Swiftype on this website.

 

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