Google announced it was sunsetting Site Search in 2017. This news had companies scrambling to find alternatives that could deliver the same quality results.
And so, ‘Search as a service’ tools became the new popular kid on the block.
Getting a search bar right is tough. Understand that the reader’s expectations are set very high, thanks to the likes of Google & Amazon. Which only makes your job that much harder.
You can use them to create a truly powerful site search function. One that delivers results quickly, precisely and in a manner that’s helpful to the reader. But which one is right for you?
Epitrove’s tip: If you have a small-scale website, using a search plugin could be more efficient and cost-friendly. Here’s a list of best WordPress search plugins that could be useful
Algolia vs Swiftype
In this article, we’ll be comparing the two on parameters like:
- Set-up and Indexing
- Generating search results
- Displaying search results
- Analytics, Security & Support
Here’s a summary for you.
|Ease of set up||Requires some effort on|
search engine set up
|Is Required||Is preferred but |
|Indexing||Requires data to be|
|Search results |
|– Decide order of |
– Exclude document
– Add weights to
|–Pin or delete |
anywhere in the list
– Add weights to
|User Interface||Highly customizable|
but requires coding
|Front-end styling |
|Analytics||More detailed||Real-time data|
|Access control||Using API keys||Using account |
|Free version||Available||Not Available|
|Get Algolia||Get Swiftype|
Algolia vs Swiftype – Set-Up & Indexing
Ease of set up
Swiftype requires no knowledge of code to set up. So it’s easy to add a fully-functional search even for a novice user.
For more control, developers working with Swiftype can always use the API.
Algolia, on the other hand, needs more technical know-how. And hence, it is probably best left to a developer.
The idea behind Algolia is to provide tools to developers that help them create powerful search features.
Epitrove’s tip: You could use the Algolia Dashboard to do an initial set up without using any code. However, to take advantage of the full feature set of Algolia it’s advised that developers use the API.
The Swiftype crawler automatically indexes all your webpages. It turns them all into searchable documents. This occurs as part of the setup process.
With Algolia, data needs to be continuously pushed as JSON objects to the Algolia index.
For optimization, it’s important that you push only relevant data to the index. Anything you don’t want showing up in a search can be left out.
The Swiftype crawler by default crawls everything. However, you can use the Dashboard to manage and set crawl rules.
The rules decide which documents get indexed. Alternatively, if you really want to get into it, you can also use meta tags, robots.txt files or sitemap.xml files.
Algolia comes with pre-set defaults to keep the index relevance in check. And because you decide what documents are to be pushed to the index, it’s already optimized.
However, for further fine-tuning, you can use two parameters – searchable attributes & custom ranking attributes.
Algolia vs Swiftype – Generating Search Results
Result ranking customization
Swiftype result ranking has two main parameters – Pinning documents and deleting documents.
You can pin documents to highlight the search result you want more people to see. Or you can delete documents you don’t want showing up in the result at all. You can also add weights to certain attributes.
With Algolia you can use searchable attributes to define what shows up in the search. Not only that you can also decide which ones show up at the top.
Adding to that, custom ranking attributes let you decide which attribute gets higher priority. This could be popularity, availability, etc.
Swiftype is powered by ElasticSearch. So, every great feature of ElasticSearch is lent to your search bar.
Algolia, on the other hand, has loads of unique features like geo-search & personalization.
Here’s the complete list:
|Highlighting of results||Yes||Yes|
|Faceted Search (filter by color, brand)||Yes||Yes|
|Synonyms (bag= clutch)||Yes||Yes|
|Stemming (see = seeing)||Yes||No|
|Phrase matching (fast food ≠ food fast)||Yes||Yes|
|Stop words and plurals||Yes||Yes|
|Geo-based search (‘near me’ results)||No||Yes|
|Sorting ( by price, newest)||Yes||Yes|
|Prefix Searching (for as-you-type search)||Yes||Yes|
|Grouping & removing duplicate results||No||Yes|
|Personalization based on user||No||Yes|
|Support for multiple languages||Yes||Yes|
Relevance of results
Swiftype, thanks to ElasticSearch, packs a whole lot of powerful search capabilities. This includes bigram-matching, prefix matching, stemming, handling typos, concatenation, etc. These help you achieve better and more relevant results.
Algolia also has a lot of these functionalities. But what sells it is that it’s highly customizable. The primary way it calculates relevance is by using its ranking formula, which you can tinker with to customize it to your business
Algolia vs Swiftype- Displaying Search Results
Displaying results quickly is important for a good search feature. And Swiftype is a definitely big improvement from the default CMS search bar.
However, when it comes to speed, Algolia is a clear choice. The instant search feature matches the likes of Google. A distributed search network ensures that results are generated at lightning speed and are updated with every new word the user types into the search bar.
When designing a user interface with Swiftype you work with the two main components of a search experience – The search field and the result box. Swiftype provides 2 out-of-the-box methods to add the two to your website: Site Search search tab and Site search overlay
Customize the appearance, layout & colors of the search and autocomplete result.
Algolia vs Swiftype – Analytics, Security, and Support
Swiftype lets you view real-time data on queries as they are happening.
With the live dashboard, you can see searches around the globe as they happen. Additionally, you can view data for up to the last 90 days.
You get insight on popular searches, conversions & clicks. Choose to track a particular type of conversion and what caused it.
When it comes to analytics, Algolia is more detailed. It has out-of-box search analytics. Go ahead and measure search count, top results, top results with filters, top countries and more.
Clicks and conversion analytics give you an idea about what actions users take. You can now measure how relevant the results are by analyzing which results the user clicks on.
|Analytics Retention||30 days to 6 months||7 days to 1 year|
|See Top searches||Yes||Yes|
|Top results for specific filters||No||Yes|
|Segment analytics data||No||Yes|
|Lost opportunities ( low clicks & conversion rates)||No||Yes|
Access Control & security
Algolia uses API keys to provide a way to secure access to your account. There are three predefined keys: Admin, Search-Only, and Monitoring API key. All three provide various levels of access.
You can also use API keys to add restrictions, group users, define the duration of allowed access.
In the case of Swiftype, different site search accounts can have various levels of permission.
The ‘Owner’ account can dole out various degrees of access to other members. The three permission levels in decreasing order of access are Admin, Editor, Viewer.
Both are ISO27001 & SOC 2 compliant for data security
Swiftype supports search across multiple different domains.
By comparison, Algolia supports searches across subdomains of the main site, however, it does not let you create a search across different domains.
Documentation & Support
Algolia vs Swiftype – Pricing
Pricing with Algolia seems to be one of the primary complaints among users.
Very few of the advanced features are actually available for the free version. And you can only get features like advanced analytics with the Enterprise version.
This tiered pricing plan gets expensive as you scale.
Swiftype doesn’t have a free version. And overall it is pricier than Algolia. But the distribution of functionalities across the three tiers is more uniform
|Free/Community version||Not Available||Available-50k operations, 10k records|
|Standard/Starter plan||$79/mo-50k queries, 5k documents||$29/mo-250k operations, 50k records|
|Pro plan||$199/mo-100k queries, 10k documents||$499/mo|
-5M operations,1M records
Algolia vs Swiftype – Prominent Customers
Algolia vs Swiftype – Pros and Cons
|Requires no coding knowledge to set up||No free version|
|Automatic crawler for indexing||Expensive, especially for smaller businesses|
|Multi-site support||PDF/Word Indexing not available with Standard Plan|
|Incredibly fast||Designing your own search UI can be challenging|
|Displays search results as you type||Needs technical knowledge to execute advanced features|
|High degree customization can be achieved||Pricing gets expensive as you scale|
If you’re looking for instant results, customization and are comfortable with code, Algolia will leave no room for complaints. However, if you are looking for a no-code, simpler but yet powerful search Swiftype might be your guy.
Let us know which one you would pick? And why?
If you think a search plugin might be a better fit for your website, check out this article comparing Relevanssi and SearchWP.
Is there another platform you’d recommend? Write to us in the comments.
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