Swiftype: A Challenge Google, SearchBlox, and Blossom

May 9, 2012

The SEO crowd and the newly minted open source search experts are usually insensitive to the challenge of site search. Now an outfit called Swiftype wants to displace Google and its site search / custom search, SearchBlox (an open source Web site indexing service), and Blossom (one of the leaders in hosted search for Web sites and organizations).


“Site search” means indexing a public facing Web site and making the content findable. For the Beyond Search information service, we have two systems at work so we can point out the differences to those who ask us for our professional opinion. The search box visible at the top of the page runs a visitor’s query against an index of the content in the ArnoldIT.com domain. When you entire a query for “mysteries of online”, this is the results list:

mysteries screeenshot

When you scroll below the picture of our engineers in action, you will see a second search box labeled “Google Customer Search.” This is a variant of Google’s site search service. When you run the query “mysteries of online”, you get this results list:

mysteries of online google

The Google index follows the links within the content of Beyond Search so you get a broader results set.

Which is better? There is no better in site search. One can find the answer to one’s question or not. We use two systems to show that in some cases a narrow result set will have higher precision and recall. In other situations, one trades off precision for a broader recall.

Swiftype’s Play

The company has rolled out a Web site search service and an application programming interface for developers. You can view a demonstration of the service at www.swiftype.com. Set up is easy and features:

  • Auto complete
  • Generates a code snippet to put the search system in a Web page
  • Indexing is performed “immediately”
  • Analytics to show most popular queries

The company offers a quick start guide, information about the REST API, and information about crawler meta tags. The meta tags allow the developer to direct the crawler to index a site in a specific manner.

The company has been funded by YCombinator and is located in San Francisco. The service is now in public beta and is free. The fee for the service, when it exits beta, will be based on the amount of API traffic it generates.

Y Combinator-Backed Swiftype Builds Site Search That Doesn’t Suck” provides a positive review of the beta service. The article asserts:

Among other things, Swiftype is supposedly easy to integrate with Tumblr — our own MG Siegler has added it to his blog ParisLemon. In other words, there’s virtually no technical work required from the publisher — something else that distinguishes Swiftype from the various other search products and open source libraries out there. At same time, companies who want a little more control can access Swiftype through its APIs.

Our view is that search in general presents a number of challenges. Site search is one subset of a broader information retrieval issue. For site search, we think that Swiftype deserves a look and a head-to-head comparison with other services. Unfortunately, after 50 years of innovation in search and retrieval, there is room for improvement in findability. Give the Swiftype system a whirl.

Stephen E Arnold, May 9, 2012

Sponsored by IKANOW


One Response to “Swiftype: A Challenge Google, SearchBlox, and Blossom”

  1. deco on May 11th, 2012 5:18 am

    What AN AMAZING article looking nice & attractive.I LOVE YOUR STYLE OF WRITING.Incredible! Thanks for the information on Google indexing service. Of course this is good also to me run my web activities more smoothly….

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