Content Management Systems (CMSs) can be complicated beasts, especially as they add more features and functionalities with each new update, and Ektron is no exception. But while you might not understand everything that Ektron does, you’ll still want to make sure that it is up to date and configured correctly to make your site run best, and one area in which there is often some confusion is that of search.
Do I Need a Search Server?
In version 8.5 of Ektron, the CMS started using a separate search server for site search queries and certain search related API calls. After version 8.5, many queries that used to be database driven were migrated to use the search server for results. Due to these changes, Ektron sites now require a dedicated search server in addition to the server that hosts the site’s data. This allows the site to attain data sets such as taxonomy groups and lists of folder content much faster, greatly improving site performance. There are two different options for the type of search service to use: Microsoft Search Server and Apache Solr. You can read more about those services and our recommendations on which one to use here.
What About Site Search?
The area of search can be confusing, because site search, which is what a site’s users can use to find content on an Ektron site, is completely different from the search service the CMS uses to make programmatic calls. For site search, you have another decision to make, between using the native search offered in the Ektron CMS and using searches powered by Google. Let’s take a look each option:
This functionality is included within the Ektron CMS and doesn’t require any additional configuration to set up. It is also becoming more and more powerful with each release of the Ektron software. Some of the benefits of using native Ektron search include:
- Any content can be marked as searchable within the Ektron workarea, making it easy to configure what should and shouldn’t show up in site search.
- Searches from certain pages can be pointed to specific folder paths, which allows you to limit searches within different sections of a site, so that results only display content within that section. For example, you could configure your site so that searching within the “Articles” section of the site will only display results from the Articles section, while searching within the “Products” section will limit results to Products.
- You can implement keyword matches and preferred results (also known as “suggested results”) to highlight certain content that you want to point your users toward or that people often search for.
Since Google is the industry leader in search, embedding Google search within your Ektron site guarantees that searches will provide excellent result sets. And since the look and feel of Google search is familiar to many, it is a popular option. Here are some of the benefits of using Google search:
- By using a Google account, you can control the results and how they are displayed, using themes and other personalization options.
- Keyword matches and preferred results can be implemented.
- Ads can be included within search results to generate revenue using Google’s Adsense program.
- If you use Google Search for Work (a dedicated search product hosted on your own servers), you can ensure quality results with Google’s search algorithms while gaining a lot of control over the way search works on your site. This does, however require a separate licensing cost.
While Google search is powerful and easy to use, it does come with some limitations you’ll need to be aware of:
- Setting whether content is searchable or not in the Ektron workarea will have no effect on Google searches, so if you want to control what should or shouldn’t show up in searches, you’ll need to do some additional site configuration.
- Google search will only display pages which can be “spidered” or are listed in a configured sitemap. That is, Google can only find content that has been linked to, so if you have any pages which don’t have any incoming links, they won’t show up in Google’s results.
How Do I Decide?
As you can see, there are pros and cons for each option, so you’ll need to look at the needs of your site to determine which one to use. If you plan to set up some of the more robust search configurations like searching within different sections of a site or limiting which content can appear in results, you’ll probably want to use Ektron search. But if you’re looking to create a simple sitewide search, Google is a good option, especially since you know the quality of their results can be trusted. Do you need any help deciding between these options? Do you have any questions about configuring search or any other aspect of the Ektron CMS? Please contact us to speak with an Ektron expert, or feel free to leave a comment below to let us know about your own preferences for search.