Google Site Search Alternatives

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Clients often come to PaperStreet who need custom search functionality outside the scope of what WordPress and Total Control offer by default.  We have always recommended Google Site Search (GSS) as the best alternative when needing the perfect query answered.

However, Google stopped offering GSS in April 2017 and will end all service in April 2018.  So, here are new opportunities for new vendors and what we are currently recommending.

Note that our recommendations are based strictly on cost, ease of integration and the ability to look nice on small to mid-size websites.  We typically work in the law firm market and so most sites have anywhere from 50 to 5,000 pages of content.  The site search is only used perhaps a few times per day (if that on smaller sites).  So, our clients typically are fine with default WordPress and default Total Control site searches.  When they need extra help for a custom website, we dip into this list.A person typing on a laptop in a bright room with sunlight streaming through a window.

  1. Algolia
    1. Algolia has two plans: one is free but would display the Algolia logo and the other is $35 a month without the logo.
    2. Algolia allows up to 10,000 records with the free option and up to 50,000 pages indexed with the paid.
    3. Our Costs – Our cost would be $300 to install (one-time discount rate).  With the free plan, there would be no ongoing costs but you would have a logo on your site.
    4. More Info –
  2. PHP Script
    1. We found a new, similar PHP script at CodeCanyon that was written in 2015 and updated in 2016 and 2017. It costs $10, has 4.2 out of 5 starts and over 852 sales.  This may be the best way to go with a search feature.
    2. Our Costs – Our cost would be $300 to install (one-time discount rate) and would include the $10 fee for the script.
    3. Demo – You can demo with links on the page below. You’ll be able to see the demo version as well as three live sites.
    4. More Info –
  3. Bing
    1. Bing offers a simple integration search.  We have not used it before, so it would be a beta.  It is Ad Free and supposedly easy to integrate. We would need to update the header search feature with Bing and then the results page too with their code.
    2. Free – Bing is free right now.
    3. Costs – We don’t know the pricing yet.  Bing will release pricing this fall, as this feature is in the preview phase now.  I would budget a few hundred dollars for search.
    4. Our Costs – Our cost would be $300 to install (one-time discount rate).
    5. More Info –
  4. AddSearch
    1. Cost is $29 per month to AddSearch directly (or $259 yearly).
    2. The standard plan allows up to 1200 pages indexed. For a larger site, a higher level plan is available at $79 a month.
    3. Our Costs – Our cost would be $300 to install (one-time discount rate).
    4. More Info –
  5. SiteSearch 360 
    1. Cost is $9 per month, for up to 1,500 pages indexed and 5,000 queries. Realistically, you need the $39 plan at 3,000 pages indexed.
    2. Weekly recrawls (so not daily).
    3. Our Costs – Our cost would be $300 to install (one-time discount rate).
    4. Not really recommended based on PDF indexing support being limited and costs are higher than above.
    5. More Info –
  6. Google Custom Search – Google still offers a search. They have a free version, but it comes with ads.  Ugh. So realistically, this is probably not an option as competitors would be listed in the search results.
  7. Other Options – There are other options available, including Amazon Cloud Search, Cludo, Sajari and Swifttype. However, we ruled them out based on costs alone (Sajari/Cludo/Swifttype) or complexity to setup (Amazon).  Those solutions would be several hundred dollars per month, which, for a small law firm, is a cost better spent on other marketing initiatives.  With Amazon, the costs could be as low as $50 per month for a small server instance.  But, we would need at least a half-day’s time to setup Amazon search on the site and code with their API.  So, the above options seemed better for ease of use and costs.
  8. Final Option – We are developers.  We could code a simple site search script in about a day of work ($1,200).  There would be no ongoing costs. We would index the data directly and code queries based on sections of the website.  However, based on the costs above, the break-even point would probably be reached in three-years’ time.  So, I don’t think that it’s financially wise for us to code.

Further Learning

Are you interested in learning more about legal marketing? Head on over to our SEO Guidelines & Best Practices page. Our guide will teach you the do’s and don’ts for law firm SEO along with what we include in our SEO plans.

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