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What is search as a service?

You want a search bar on your website that works well. Just a simple text box to lead your visitors to the right content on your site. There are a few ways to approach this. You can use the default search solution that comes with your CMS, you could develop your own search solution, or you could choose to outsource your website’s search function to an expert. In this article, we look at the benefits of the third option: to outsource your search function to a search as a service provider.
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The standard search function of a CMS is often easy to use, but usually also very limited in its possibilities. Advanced functional management features, such as analytics and reporting, are often missing, and the same goes for technical features, such as spelling correction, synonyms, crawler intervals, etc.

If your website grows bigger, a standard search solution is no longer a serious option. The alternative is to build and maintain your own search solution. But search technology is complex, so your organization needs an IT team with specific knowledge of search technology and a lot of spare time to make this happen. In our experience, building and maintaining your own search solution takes a disproportionate amount of time and energy, which takes a heavy toll on your IT department. The total cost of ownership of a self-built search solution is therefore much higher than it may initially seem.

If search technology is not your core business, but site search is important for your website, the best approach is to let a search as a service provider handle your search function.

When is site search important?

With over 15 years of experience with search technology, we have a pretty good idea when outsourcing site search is most valuable. And it really isn’t rocket science: it makes most sense for organizations with a website—or a group of smaller websites—with a lot of traffic (at least a couple of thousand visitors per month) and with many pages of text (usually more than a hundred). These are often websites that focus on consumers. So, when you have a popular website with a lot of content, make sure your site search works well (and fast), or you risk losing your visitors.

Outsourcing site search

The alternative to a standard search function, or building your own solution, is to find an IT company to build it for you. In theory, this is possible, but in practice, this approach leads to the same problems as developing the search function yourself. Search technology is complex and most IT companies do not possess the domain-specific knowledge to maintain and develop a search function, and guarantee its quality over time.

Search as service - lightning fast site search

If you choose to outsource your search bar, the best way to do it is through a search as a service provider, such as Pandosearch. You’ll get a search function that works well all the time, and that shows search results as soon as your visitors type in the first letters of their search query. And all that, for a fixed price per month. Doesn’t that sound great?

Using a search a service provider for your website’s site search has many advantages. Your website benefits from state-of-the-art search technology, while lightening your IT workload at the same time. This saves time and money and the IT staff can focus on its core business.

A search as a service provider guarantees a well-maintained, up-to-date, super fast search function that is available 24/7. It also gives you advanced features so that the administrators of your website—webmasters, content managers, marketers, and so on—have access to advanced tooling, such as analytics, to gain more insight into the behavior of your visitors.

Ultimately, better search leads to a better website, which in turn leads to satisfied visitors, a higher conversion rate, and less pressure on your support department.

More features, maintenance and security

A complex website demand more of its search function than a simple site with a few pages, and this is where advanced features really shine. Let’s say a big website of a bank has multiple (sub) domains and features content in multiple languages. New content is added every few days and existing content is being updated regularly. A use case like this can be very challenging for a web team since all this content needs to be accessible through one search bar. A search as a service provider will fix this for you.

We have already covered advanced features extensively in another article, but some examples are real-time search, search suggestions, synonyms, spell checking, facets, filtering functions. A good search provider supports all of this and more.

Another big advantage is that maintenance of your search function is no issue anymore. The search as a service provider takes care of maintenance, so your site search remains up-to-date and secure.

Predictable and cheaper

Of course, there are differences in pricing between search as a service providers. Some providers will charge a fee per search query, for example.

At Pandosearch, we want to make the cost of search as predictable as possible for our customers. Therefore, we work with a fixed price per month, one simple fee for your search function. This makes annual budgeting easy: you will know exactly what you are going to pay for your search bar: no surprises at the end of the year.

When comparing costs between a search as a service solution and developing a search function in-house (or with hiring a development company), then the costs of the search as a service solution are many times lower. This is especially true when calculating the total cost of ownership for building and maintaining a search infrastructure, factoring in all costs, like opportunity costs, support hours, maintenance, and distraction of your IT team.

What does your website actually need?

Because it is hard to set up site search, a proper intake phase is crucial. In this phase, we’ll need to figure out what it is exactly that your website needs in terms of search. And that might actually be different than expected. At Pandosearch, we take this process very seriously, so we ensure we build exactly what you need. Our engineers ask a lot of questions, which enables them to give the very best advice on how to implement your site search.

Curious on how we can improve your websites? Feel free to contact us!