The days of outdated, unused and slow on-site search engines are long gone. Modern online businesses build user experience based on enterprise search engines by delivering personalised content in milliseconds and so should you and your business.
The search engine of today has become the top marketing tool used by digital and marketing teams. The users behaviour during the last decade has changed a lot, we no longer just search and review the results for the answers. We want the answers served to us, on top of the list. It’s become harder than ever to keep the user engaged with the website and it’s true for all of us, regardless of the sector. Anytime we don’t find relevant content within the first 8-10 seconds on the website we’re more than likely to go to the competitor’s website and search there. It’s a massive blow to our sales figures, marketing strategies and efforts made by so many people responsible for it.
Top companies acknowledged that online existence is more important than ever, they invest time and money to build powerful Customer Experience based on digital strategies. Enterprise search is just one of the tools to build the engagement with the users.
Marketing automation, CMS and search engines technologies pushed the boundaries of how relevant the user’s data is. Today we track users behaviour on our websites, review the touch-points, analyse the customer journey and use all this data to build a profile allowing us to personalise the experience, products, designs, content and search results. It shouldn’t surprise any of us that enterprise search engines now use big data and machine learning, even artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
The technologies behind the search engine won’t delivered anything if we don’t have content. Not just any content, healthy content, accessible content, and most importantly relevant one. To many organisations this is the hardest part and can easily take most of the time to prepare.
Search engines are often used to review the current content of the websites, allowing marketers and editors to remove duplicate content, old and outdated articles or products, remove broken links or documents (in any formats).
Any content can have metadata assigned to it, first of all it improves your content’s ranking on Google search, while it will also be easier to find it on your own on-site search. Each type of content can have a set of must-have metadata that the editors will have to fill in before the content goes live.
The search is becoming the heart of any digital business. Whole websites are build around the search technologies and it’s easy to understand why.
Today’s digital technologies allow us to easily create a profile of ‘anonymous’ users entering our websites. Marketing Automation tools track their behaviour and touch-points, this data is pushed to our CMS software which with help of Search Engine dynamically updates the website for the users with more relevant content. It creates a one-to-one, business-customer bond and trust. Users that experience that are more likely to leave important details on our website.
Data is important, marketing and sales strategies are based on that. Each user profile created with help of the CMS-Search Engine-Marketing Automation trio is then pushed to an integrated CRM system, allowing sales department to review it and prepare personalised offer.
We - users - are tired of being asked the same questions, filter and review the results and content, especially when we did it once on that same website already. We expect the websites to learn from us, our interests, behaviours, time we spend on the content that’s engaging for us. Even though we live in a world where our privacy is being more and more protected we still expect the companies to know about what’s important for us. That’s why personalised content, powered by search engines is so important these days.
Profiling the users and getting all the relevant information about them by providing them with the content they’re looking for is what our sales teams are after. It’s much easier to engage a sales conversation with a user we know almost everything about!
Technology behind it
First and foremost the Enterprise Engine indexes multiplicity of content both structured and unstructured. It indexes the content from variety of different sources: databases, websites, internal and external servers, computers, clouds, legacy systems, intranets, extranets etc.
It allows for a quick, real-time search results to be displayed to the users in milliseconds thanks to the content being indexed and updated on the regular basis. New content - regardless of the origin, as long as it’s integrated with the engine - can be indexed in real-time, allowing our users to have access to it seconds after it’s been published.
Search Engines are full of very impressive technologies, allowing us - the website owners - to create a truly engaging, personalised search experience. Modern search engine sports:
- Geospatial search - enabling a location-based search results
- Query suggestions
- Spelling suggestions
- Faceted search and filtering
- Best bets - admin defined top results for a specific keywords
- Rich documents parsing for many file formats, including Adobe Reader, Word, Excel etc.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of different technologies are hidden behind, allowing us to analyse users behaviours on our results page by reviewing:
- Most searched keywords
- Most relevant links
- Most clicked links
- Keywords without search results
- Location and devices used for search
- Best bet clicks
- Time spent on search results or time spent on clicked links
This insight is a very powerful tool for both marketers and sales. It fuels their fire by bringing them even closer to the leads, potential clients by providing all the relevant information about them on a silver platter.
Enterprise Search vs Cognitive Search
The likes of companies like Gartner, Ovum and Forrester are writing about and marketing Cognitive Search, or as they also call them Insight Engines over the last years. It’s purpose is to outshine the Enterprise Search engines available to the masses on the open-source licence.
What’s the real difference between the enterprise search and insight engines? Well, not much, really. Enterprise search engines, especially those available to us as open source projects have been around for years (e.g. Apache Solr). They use top-of-the-shelve technologies including AI, machine learning, NLP, indexing multiple sources and deliver analytics tools for the admins. In fact, there’s a massive competition between open source projects pushing those technologies to the limits and most of them are based on Apache Lucene project.
Insight Engines are no different, however, there’s a very different, powerful marketing behind them. Insight Engine companies promise ‘bigger and better’, ‘more personalised’ content and experience using powerful and meaningful in today’s age marketing phrases like ‘Search experience should be like Siri or Google’. These companies spend big sums of money to market their products in Magic Quadrants of Insight Search - or anything alike - on regular basis by Gartner or other research and advisory companies.
Technologically speaking, they’re no different from each other, Insight Search providers simply add other services to the table, like content review or creation, WCAG 2.0 AA checkers or search insights as long as you agree to pay a licence fee for their search engine year by year. It can be a lot as some of them base their licence fee on the amount of indexed links, files, delivered search results etc. It’s extremely hard to believe that Insight Engine companies can out-develop thousands of very clever programmers behind open-source projects, therefore they offer other services.
You, as a business, can easily get any of these services from software development companies that implement open source search engines for organisations. However, regardless of how much you’re willing to spend on your on-site search solution it’s best to remember that content is the king. Without relevant, accessible and healthy content no insight engine or enterprise search will ever achieve what you think it should.
If you want to know more about the search engines, the value it can bring to your organisation and your users or you want to talk about content, marketing or digital strategies feel free to contact GeekForce.