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Replacing Google Custom Site Search (GSS)

Replacing Google Custom Site Search (GSS)

Along with the end-of-life Google Search Appliance Google have now also deprecated their paid site search product. They will not take new sales from April 2017, but will honour existing licence periods.

Since the announcement we've had an influx of requests for information as people scramble to find a replacement solution, so we thought we'd write a brief post explaining how you can quickly and easily migrate from GSS to, and also why you should do so!

We'll start with the why and then tackle the how: below are instructions that will help you get up and running in no time.

Why migrate from GSS to

Some of the main reasons to switch are listed below:

  • Instant indexing
  • Self-optimising results
  • Instant search
  • Autocomplete & fuzzy matching
  • Analytics
  • Recommendations
  • Facets & aggregations
  • Slack support
  • Powerful API

Instant indexing uses a small tracking snippet of JavaScript that pings back when pages are viewed. This has the advantage of indexing new content as soon as it is visited (we also follow links). Most content is available in less time than it takes to download the page. For site owners indexing is as simple as cutting and pasting our script into their tag manager.

On top of this we also keep track of which pages are popular and feed this extra information into the ranking algorithm. For example, a trending article may appear higher in results than another page that is less popular.

Self-optimising results

Our result rankings optimise themselves at an individual search level. If your users don't click on a particular result, the ranking algorithm will gradually demote it to a lower position for that search. Your users actually teach the algorithm to improve itself.

Instant search

Search results that update with every keypress. We don't need to load a new page to display results, although of course you can keep that if you wish. To be continuously searching as you type our technology needs to be very fast - as well as smart - which it is!

Autocomplete & fuzzy matching

Autocomplete also learns from your customers and improves itself over time. If everyone is searching for "widgets", then as soon as someone types "w" it will run a search for "widgets". This allows your customers to get their results faster. Fuzzy matching steps in to help fix spelling mistakes.


We have a huge focus on analytics and provide live reports including anomaly detection, searches with poor click through rates, overall performance and much more. Search analytics are what we call "intent analytics", you're hearing exactly what your users want in their own words. This is an incredibly powerful tool - we have customers using our analytics to drive their content strategies, helping them to:

  • Set priorities for creating new content
  • Fix content that's not performing well
  • Align business language to customer language
  • Change site navigation
  • Fix SEO issues

Note: we don't actually do any SEO. Our on-site search analytics can show when users aren't finding relevant content or are ignoring pages with poor meta because they don't correspond to their search query. This mirrors what happens in internet-wide search engines and so improvements on-site naturally lead to improved SEO.


We discover pages as they appear on your site and also keep track of how popular they are, so it's very easy to add recommendations for popular, recent and related content - and we run it all from the same index used for searching.

Facets & aggregations

We support facets and aggregations. This requires some additional work to get setup, but is relatively straight forward. From an interface point of view we have examples using facets. To add extra fields into our search engine, it's as simple as adding some additional code snippets to identify information on the page.

Slack support

We offer slack based support for enterprise customers. Our team is responding to requests around the clock from customers all over the globe.


While many site search customers will never need to use our search API, for those that do we support a wide range of features, SDKs and various interface integrations. Contact us with any requests, we've probably seen it before.

How to migrate from GSS to

Ok, so we've explained a bit about why is a good alternative if you need to replace Google Site Search. Let's dive right in and explain how to quickly get up and running with a trial integration.

Note: We recommend that all trials be run with live user traffic so that the ranking / autocomplete algorithms have enough information to begin self-optimising and there is real data for our analytics pipelines to process. However, it's still possible to run a trial without live traffic - you will still get a good feel for how everything works.

Content Feedback

The better your content, the better your search interface can be. Clean data also helps with SEO and general navigation of your site. In order to assist, we've released a free testing tool to show what we see when indexing your content. You can test your pages here.

Trial integration steps

  1. Sign up for a free trial
  2. Follow instructions to install code globally on your site (or forward to your developers)
  3. Wait for an hour or so for us to pick up your content (it can be very quick depending on your site traffic)
  4. Sign in and review the results in the Console (this is a very limited test interface)
  5. Install the search interface onto your test/staging site
  6. Optionally tag additional meta fields to your pages

The hardest part of the integration is getting the UI right, but rest assured we'll work with you to get setup, so feel free to reach out with any questions. The Console has the ability to add rules which exclude pages, directories, etc from the search index. It also allows certain pages, directories and matching content to be weighted differently in the ranking algorithm, giving you some manual tuning capabilities to augment customer feedback.

Feel free to contact us if you need help getting started!

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