Site search can be a make-or-break feature when you’re picking a platform to build your next website. And while it’s not available in Webflow (yet!), it’s not hard to integrate a third-party option.
Based on our research, we recommend these three options for adding search to your Webflow site:
As we evaluated these search tools, we compared them based on four characteristics:
But first, let’s take a brief look at how these tools work.
Google, Swiftype, and Findberry all use a web crawler to index your website’s content. What’s a web crawler? It’s a bot that scans (or “crawls”) your website and extracts content for an external database (in this case, a search engine).
Though all three site search options work the same way, they offer different levels of control over how your site’s content is indexed:
We’ll answer these questions for each site search option below. Ok, let’s dive into it!
Surprise! Google Site Search that lets you add search to your website. If you’re okay with displaying search ads on your site, you can use it for free, but the ads can be quite obnoxious. To remove ads, you can pay an annual fee starting at $100 and scaling alongside your search traffic.
Google Site Search indexes your site the same way they index the rest of the web, which has its pros and cons.
On the plus side, the first indexing of your site takes just minutes, so you can test the search out quickly. Google’s indexing technology also means that your content will be reliably indexed.
Unfortunately, because Google indexes the entire public web on an ongoing basis, your site won’t get reindexed very frequently. In fact, you might have to wait a week or more to see your new content in search results.
One advantage of using Google Site Search is that you can index multiple domains (say, your marketing site, help center, and forum) in one search engine at no additional cost. As we’ll see, indexing multiple domains is a paid feature for both Swiftype and Findberry.
Google offers multiple layout options, and a basic visual interface for editing the colors of your search results and search bar.
If you need more control, you can also add custom CSS to a specific page or across your site.
Google’s default relevance algorithm does a good job of sorting search results, but if you want more control, your options are pretty limited.
You can use what Google calls “Promotions” to display a specific result at the top for a given search query. These seem to be designed for ads, and it’s possible that visitors to your site might dismiss them as such, but they could work.
Fuseboard has done a nice job of integrating Google Site Search on their help center by adding custom code and displaying search results in a custom overlay.
Webflow forum member tubes shared his steps for setting up Google Site Search on our forum, so hat tip to him!
Master the fundamental concepts of web design, including typography, color theory, visual design, and so much more.
In a pure feature-to-feature comparison, Swiftype offers the most control and customization, along with a slick dashboard and some handy customization options — and their prices reflect that.
You can start with a free trial, but after that, plans start at $299 a month. (Full disclosure: we use Swiftype for our help center, and I used to work there).
With Swiftype, you can index your whole domain, or just specific areas, using blacklist and whitelist rules.
You can also get super precise with their meta tag system, which we use on our CMS-driven help center to dynamically insert content from our help articles. This lets us control exactly what’s indexed and what we display on the front end. (And gives content editors control via the Editor.)
Jumping over to Swiftype, you can see that they’re pulling these custom fields directly into our search engine.
Lastly, Swiftype crawls your site for new content far more frequently than the others on this list, though frequency is partially a function of how much you’re paying.
If you’re a developer, you can do pretty much whatever you want with Swiftype’s public API. If you’re not a developer, you can still get pretty creative with custom CSS and their in-app search result configuration tools. Using the fields in your search engine, you can choose what information to display in autocomplete and search results.
You can also write custom CSS to style the search bar however you’d like, as we’ve done on our own help center.
Swiftype offers you a lot of control over your search results, and this is how they really make a name for themselves in this space. For starters, you can use their Result Rankings to drag and drop search results for a given query, delete results you want to hide, and add results that don’t appear by default.
If you want to get even more precise, you can use the Weights feature to adjust the impact that different fields have on search results.
We use Swiftype on our help center, and styled everything how we wanted using their in app customization and some custom CSS for the search bar.
Webflow forum member domin8tor shared his steps for setting up Swiftype.
Findberry offers site search that feels a lot like Google Site Search, although you can use their free product without displaying ads. If your website features under 100 pages, then you can use Findberry for free. From there, pricing scales as your website grows.
Unlike Google Site Search, Findberry’s indexing options are limited by number of pages and by number of domains. As with Swiftype, indexing multiple domains is only available on higher-tier plans.
Another way Findberry mirrors Google Site Search is that you have no control over how they index your website. The catch here, of course, is that while Google has robust indexing and search relevance technology that you can “trust” more, Findberry is a relatively small app and is unlikely to match Google in this domain.
Lastly, Findberry only crawls your site for new content once a week, which could be a problem if you publish frequently.
If you’re comfortable writing CSS, you won’t have a hard time customizing Findberry’s search embed to fit your needs. They even let you customize the code right from their product. But unlike Google and Swiftype, Findberry doesn’t let you style your search results visually.
Like Google and Swiftype, Findberry’s search results display in a pop-up modal by default, though you can alternatively display results on the same page as the search bar.
On the Pro plan ($9.99/month) and above, you can unlock “Customizable Keyword Weights,” which let you adjust the impact of various fields on search results, much like Swiftype’s Weights feature. Beyond this, you have no control over the order of search results.
Our QA engineer Anna Sabatini used Findberry on a blog she worked on for a client (to the right of the first post).
Former Webflow community expert and now-QA engineer Anna Sabatini shared how to set up Findberry search on our forum.
Which search tool you use depends on your budget and how flexible you need your search to be. While Swiftype offers a ton of customizability, you’ll have to have a serious business need to justify the price tag.
On the other hand, Findberry works well on smaller websites, but lacks the feature set and ease of use that Google and Swiftype offer.
Google seems to walk a middle line, introducing complexity and power where needed, while still offering a visual way for you to style and configure your search experience. And at $100 a year, the entry level price is reasonable for most small- to mid-size websites.
Did we leave anything out? Let us know if you’ve found a better option in the comments below. (But note that links trigger our spam filters.)
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