How to migrate from GCS to Site Search 360?

28th August 2018
7
mins
to read

So, here is the question:

Why is it so painful to find a good Google Site Search alternative?

Or to migrate from your current search solution to a new, better one? Or to finally replace Google Custom Search, because… seriously? Ugly third-party ads on my site?

In any case, the process can be daunting.

  • First, you already spent enough time configuring and fine-tuning your site search, struggling with CSS, setting up your dictionaries, promotions, filters - the list goes on and on.
  • Second, switching goes against one of the favorite principles of programmers: “If it’s working - don’t touch it.”

And then, boom!

gss alternatives after shutdown

 Cheer up! The truth is, the shutdown of Google Site Search gave fresh impetus to developers all over the world to create new search solutions, and now anyone can benefit from easy-to-implement, highly customizable, powerful yet transparent search.

Sometimes these solutions are shiny and appealing, but they’re just too expensive, especially if you are seeking to reduce your monthly search costs.

Whatever the reason is, here’s some information that could help you move away from the search engine you’re using while maintaining a clear conscience.

An elegant and smart site search doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. At least, that’s what we think here at Site Search 360.

 

How does Site Search 360 compare to Google Custom Search?

1. Fair pricing. Free is free - no third-party ads.

We get it. Sometimes you’re not ready to pay for your site search. Our free plan is designed for smaller websites (max. 150 pages, 1000 queries/month) and the only thing you’ll have to put up with is our logo. Take a look: 

Site Search 360 logo in search results

Seems to me that’s much less intrusive than this: 

google custom search results with ads

Our bigger plans have cool names and the pricing starts from just $9/month.

 

2. Easy to start, rewarding to master.

It all begins with placing a snippet of JavaScript code on your site. You can swap your existing search or quickly stylize and insert a new one with the help of our Search Designer.

The code is auto-generated, just copy and paste it into your website’s HTML template. 

Are you a WordPress user? It is even more straightforward. Go to Plugins and look for “Site Search 360.” Activate. Sign up for your 14-day free trial. Done.

Site Search 360 plugin for Wordpress

Do you use an API and want to set up a beautiful faceted search with custom filters and categories? You can index by URL or send a JSON object with the content you want to index. Here’s an example of Site Search 360 integration via API from one of our clients: 

advanced search filters via site search 360 api

But if things like “CSS selectors” and “API” sound scary, don’t worry. Our tech team is here for you: drop us an email or use our live chat for any questions or concerns.

 

3. Give new life to old concepts.

No one looks forward to rebuilding GSS or GCS promotions or synonyms. All you need is to import them.

  • Your Google promotions - we call them Query Mappings - will work just as well with your new search bar.

    First, log into your Google control panel > Search features > Promotions. Select your queries and download them as an XML file. 

    export google promotions

    Once you start your free trial, you’ll get access to your Site Search 360 control panel. The import function is under Search Control > Query Mappings:

    import google site search promotions

    Now go back to your website and try it out!

    import gss promotions to site search 360
  • Your carefully curated lists of synonyms will be also saved thanks to a similar export/import procedure under the Dictionary section:

    Site Search 360 custom dictionary
  • Autocompletions are already baked into our algorithm and appear as Search Suggestions. So if you type autom we will show results for automation and highlight autom in the results. Spell check is also included and enabled by default:

     spell checker Site Search 360
  • As for the search engine layout, choose what you prefer: embedded results or results displayed on a separate page? Overlay or full screen? Check out the different implementation styles we prepared. Feel free to use the code.

 

4. Customize and take your search to a new level

You know best what types and categories of content you have on your site. Your users don’t, and when it’s all jumbled up and confusing, they often leave. Some of you lose a reader, others a customer and a sale.

So why not make it easier and more efficient for your visitors to navigate and find exactly what they’re looking for? Content groups (or what they call refinements in GCS) are ideal for this. Combine them with relevant data points and the search experience becomes a pleasure, not a pain. Let’s take a closer look at ticino.ch and type in “trails”:

content groups and data points

Interested in going on a hike? If so, are you ready for a workout or do you want to take it easy? Distance, time, and difficulty (extracted as data points) are perfect indicators here. Note that the “Events” category returns date and location instead.

Your data points can be global, i.e. applied for the whole site (such as publication date, author, or price tag) or specific to a content group like in the example above. The best part is that you don’t need an API or advanced programming skills to set this all up. Site Search 360 will guide you through the process.

 
create content groups 

You can also further tweak your search results with Site Search 360 Query Mappings.  

Order search results in Site Search 360

  • manually drag and drop to reorder and pin the best results
  • quickly rewrite a frequent mistake e.g. ‘desert’ into ‘dessert.’ The change is applied immediately, no reindexing necessary (as opposed to a new dictionary entry)
  • redirect to a specific URL (e.g. your download section or a promotional landing page)
  • your mapping can be a 100% match, contain a part of the word, or use a regular expression, like gr(a|e)y

 

5. Analyze, improve, test. All the important data in your Dashboard.

Consider this for a second: you really strive to know what search term brought the visitor to your site, but Google purposely makes it hard to track this. However, once this visitor is in your search territory, isn’t it even more important to look at the stats and make sure the user didn’t get lost? According to Mike Moran, conversion rates are from 43% to 600% higher for people who search on your site than for people who don’t.

Did the user click on a suggestion or drop the search? How long did it take to load and how many results were shown? What’s the specific term traction over the last 3 months? It’s all directly displayed in your Site Search 360 Dashboard and can be easily exported. 

site search 360 analytics

Do you start your day by diving into your Google Analytics curves? Then simply add another line of code to configure GA or GTM (Google Tag Manager) tracking and combine all your stats in one place. 

var ss360Config = {
   ...
   externalTracking: { 
      // how to track, supported values: 'GA' (Google Analytics), 'GTM' (Google Tag Manager)
      providers: ['GA'], 
      // callback before SERP is reported, SERP events aren't reported if this returns false
      searchCallback: function(query) {
         // do custom things here
         return true;
      }
   }
   ...
};

On the subject of stats, here’s what our team discovered after analyzing more than 10 million queries. Check out this post if you’re curious to know the average query length, the best position for your search bar, or how many searches return 0 results (spoiler: almost 20%!)

 

Why choose Site Search 360?

  1. Really fast. German quality and reliability.

    Site Search 360 is a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, which means that your server stays stress-free. Instead, the search burden is carried by SS360 servers (located in Germany and Canada). Here’s an excerpt from the SLA:

    We guarantee that the Site Search 360 API, search, and control panel will have an uptime of at least 99.9% on a monthly average. The server response time is 20ms on average per request.
  2. Easy implementation.

    All the configuration objects and the corresponding code is provided. There’s a plugin for WP. Also, check out Zapier and Integromat for really handy integration options (e.g. set a trigger to automatically index a new article or send yourself an email once crawling is completed).

  3. Smart.

    We use advanced semantic technologies to enhance your search.

  4. Mobile-friendly and accessibility-conscious. Highly customizable.

  5. Support team always there, ready to help.

    Not to toot our own horn, of course, but just take it from our happy customers.

  6. Worth it.

 

Ready to get started?

  • No credit card info. No email confirmation.
  • The domain name you provide, e.g. www.greatsite.com, becomes your unique site id - you will need it to log into your Control Panel.
  • You can then go to Index Control to see your index fill up with URLs so that you can go test your new site search right away!

status of all URLs in the index

No need to wait for obscure Google algorithms to start working on your website. Instead, tell our crawlers when and what to index. No down time - the crawling happens when you want it to happen (manually and automatically).

Have I mentioned that when you sign up, you get 14 days of free trial access to all our biggest BATMAN plan features?

Sign up for a trial. It's free.


Seek and you shall find
, they say. Well, you just found a great solution to replace your Google Custom Search or any other search solution. And we’ll make sure your users always find what they seek. 

On the hunt for better search?

Test Site Search 360 for your domain and take a free trial to see for yourself how effortless excellent site search can be. ‬‬‬‬‬‬

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