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Need Site Search Service Recommendations

Posted on 2014-03-19
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Last Modified: 2014-03-30
I have a business website with about 125 searchable pages. We've been using a great (paid) site search service for years but they are closing up. So I need to implement a new site search. The website uses the Joomla! CMS and runs on a UNIX server.

Search volume ranges between 40 and 200 monthly. Small volume but nonetheless important for us to have.

Features of the current service that I find highly useful:
* scheduled periodic reindexing.
* synonyms list to include related words in a search.
* Can promote/demote parts of website to highlight specific sections in results.
* Can exclude pages or paths from search results.
* Search phrase spell checker.
* Search may be any word, all words, exact phrase
* XML feed that may be built into a custom results page
* results URL shows as search.my-site.com.
* great customer support.
* provide results quickly.
* Results include excerpt from page.
* No ads.

I've been thinking about Google Site Search which seems to meet most of the above criteria.

Are you familiar with other site search services that you recommend highly?

Thanks,
Pete
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Question by:Pete2009
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lenamtl earned 250 total points
ID: 39943194
To me Google is the best.

What is the name of the one that you was using?
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39943593
I have been using PicoSearch. They were great although perhaps a bit expensive annually. Superb features and customer service. But they are closing shop this July.

Have you made use of Google for custom site search? A good experience? Any limitations or problems I should consider?

Thanks,
Pete
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Expert Comment

by:lenamtl
ID: 39945090
It's always depending of your needs.... I never tried Picosearch so it's hard to compare.

I asked my friends they use Freefind and Denote

Freefind
http://www.freefind.com/picosearch.html

Denote
https://denote.io/special
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39953712
Hi lenamtl,

Thanks for these further thoughts. Interesting that Freefind is reaching out to people presently using PicoSearch.

I'm leaving this open for now to see if others respond and have experiences to share.

Pete
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Expert Comment

by:Michael
ID: 39955287
I used "Speed Search" for quite a few years until I developed my own. But "Speed Search" has some fairly nice features that may meet some of your needs. It's been a while since I've used it - so they may have added some additional features as well.

they offer a demo you can check out and dig into it's capabilities and data tracking on searches performed, etc.

http://www.perlscriptsjavascripts.com/perl/search/index.html
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39957072
Hi Chiselneck,

This raises an interesting possibility. At first glance it looks like a very good tool. A couple limitations apparent - Only searches text files, not for example PDFs. Does not seem to create an XML feed to embed in a fully custom search results page.

It's different than what I've done in the past where PicoSearch was a paid service that managed everything. I built their search into the site, paid them a yearly fee, they managed it and did periodic reindexing, and people searched and found stuff. No other intervention needed on my part unless I wanted to look at the log files to see what content tuning was needed based on searches being done.

Using their packaged service worked well for me - I'm a business owner who is technically inclined but I hire programmers to build, update, or otherwise maintain my site.

With Speed Search do you have a sense of how much ongoing work is needed once it is installed and running on the site? I'd like to understand what I'd have to either do myself or have someone do on a routine basis.

Thanks,
Pete
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Assisted Solution

by:Michael
Michael earned 250 total points
ID: 39957430
Hey Pete,
It's been a while since I last used "Speed Search" so I'm going off memory... but if memory serves me well the installation process was fairly easy.

Again if memory serves me well - you can also indicate what types of pages and files to search within the settings, and indicate what types of pages and directories to not search.

It is a stand alone application, so you need to add your website's header in a section called header and insert your website's footer section into a section called footer.

To do this what I did in the past was take one of my websites and stripped out the middle section "the message on a particular site page" and just added the words "BREAK HERE". Next I copied all the html code above the words "BREAK HERE" and pasted it into the header section of the settings. Next I copied all the html code below the words "BREAK HERE" and pasted it into the section called footer within the settings of Speed Search and clicked save settings.

This will skin the application to match my website.

You can also do a bit of customization to what appears in the middle section "in-page" are of your Speed Search powered search engine, using copy and past blocks of code provided within the application. I think I also customized the Speed Search code a bit of my websites as well.

Is it a perfect solution... depends on what you need. I'd call it a good/cost effective solution for those who do not want to built their own unique search engine specifically for their website's needs. But with that said, I used Speed Search for about four years and was pleased with the overall results.

Cheers,
Chiselneck
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Author Closing Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 39965114
Thanks to both lenamtl and Chiselneck. You have helped me think through a variety of options. While all the options you identified look great, since I am looking more for a complete service solution I am planning to pursue Google Site Search.

Pete
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