Migrating to Google Custom Search

Creative Commons License OliBac
Do what you do best, and link to the rest.” – Jeff Jarvis

Our search has been suffering for the past year. Decreased usage and miserable performance had combined to make it a wasteland of vain suppositions which alienated our users. Enter Google Custom Search.

The Users Have Spoken (and we’re listening)

We were averaging almost 4 seconds per search result with a lucene based engine on our site. Granted, the final page presented to the user was well thought out and superbly organized, but the problem was over a third of users weren’t there to even see it (they’d already closed the page and moved on with their lives).

Notice that more than 16% of searchers left the site after checking the result – guess they didn’t get what they were looking for.

The new search delivers exactly what the vast majority of our users see (and click on) to arrive on our site to begin with. The response time for the results are measure in milliseconds now instead of seconds and the initial results are encouraging. With more searches, and fewer exits it seems like our users are enjoying the new search.

Operational Wins

Not surprisingly, we saw almost a 50% drop in server load after removing our proprietary search! Despite caching, the long tail rules in search querydom – meaning that the majority of searches were uncached, full stack traversals of our platform.
load

And this despite a better than average week for visits:

Definitely a win-win situation for our customers and business. If you’re contemplating making the switch for your own site, Google provides some excellent API’s and developers’ tools to ensure a successful migration!

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