We talked with Roy Rubin, who was the driver behind the beautiful implementation of CSBE at Magento. We have decided to retain his original Q&A format so that prospects and users can easily see the decision process for this particular case to use Google's Custom Search Engine. Enjoy! - Richard Wan.
1. Why did you need Google Custom Search Business Edition (CSBE)?
When we started to draft the requirements to MagentoCommerce.com we rather quickly understood that the search would be an integral part of the site. Given the incredible amount of content (most of it user generated) it was critical for us to provide a search experience that would as good as … well … Google.
We also had a big challenge with content spread out across a number of modules across the site; knowledge base, wiki, blog, forum, etc. – it was important for us to display the results in a way that the users can filter or view subsets based on the modules.
Finally, MagentoCommerce.com’s blog is translated now into 14 languages and with CSBE we are able to display results based on the users locale – this was an important aspect for us well as we continue to provide multi lingual content.
2. What technology, if any, did it replace and why?
Our site is implemented using an off the shelf CMS product. The built in search was not only slow, but did not allow us to provide an experience that would be acceptable to our user base. With CSBE we had the advantage of supporting the built in spelling correction, plural, switches, etc. that are provided out of the box.
3. What benefits have you derived from using CSBE?
Here is a quick list:
- Full control over layout and display: we had very specific requirements that needed to be met
- Fast, reliable search that did not drain existing DB/CPU resources
- A top of the line search experience that allows our users the ability to find the content they are looking for and fast
- Ability to filter by module type and view results specific to the section of the area they are browsing
- Spelling Correction – this was huge for us in making the decision
- Quick time to market – we spent minimal resource in implementing the solution (took us 2-3 days for the entire project)
- Low cost in comparison to other solutions we were evaluating
4. What has been the overall impact of using Google CSBE on your website?
We wanted to create an experience that is unlike any other open source project out there. We’ve invested heavily in many aspects of the site (content/videos/screencasts/documentation) and our search experience does not fall short. With our experience, search is always an area that is not perfect and can be improved, but not in this case. We see our site search as one the leading factors for the success of our project so far and have received positive feedback from our base.
5. Do you have any advice you'd give others in implementing the Google CSBE for their company's use?
I would highly recommend CSBE implementations due the relatively low cost and quick set up time. It is hard to find a comparable product that is as critical for the success of content-driven sites.
6. Are there particular industry specific uses that CSBE was able to add value to?
Spelling was huge for us since we have a large international audience. Given our background in ecommerce, we are planning to use CSBE on upcoming ecommerce projects (specifically in use of layered/faceted navigation) and we expect a positive experience there as well.