Our client presented us with a requirement to improve the search on their website; specifically they wanted predictive search and a 'did you mean' feature in their main site search.  After some initial investigation, I ruled out trying to develop a custom solution, comparing the pricing of out the box commercial search packages compared to the costs of my development time to create, at best , something that would still be an inferior function, was an obvious choice.

Their website has been developed using the Episerver 6R2 CMS so the two best fits were the 'Google Site Search' and the 'Epi-find'.  Below gives a quick side-by-side comparison based on our requirements.

|||| |--- |--- |--- | |Options|Google Site Search|Epi-find| |Price Per Year|£66.38|£1500| |Predictive Search Support|Yes|Yes| |Customizable|Slightly|A lot| |Multiple Language Support|Unlimited|3| |Search Query Limit Year|20,000 Searches|10,000 indexable items with unlimited searches| |Refinements/Facets Support|Yes|Yes| |API to customize|No|Yes| |Location based searches via Geo-tagging|No|Yes| ||||

Best Value To The Client

The Google Site Search wins hands down in terms of pricing, £66 a year compared to £1500 is a massive saving.  The Google Search also wins on development time.  As I've already integrated several Google searches in previous projects, I already have all the necessary plug-in code required.

Winner : Site Search

Best Fit For The Future

One of our potential future requirements is to provide better integration on the website with the client's product catalogue (exclusively stored within a SQL database).  The Epi-find API would allow us to include these database tables in the search results by binding custom .NET enumerations which would address this requirement.  Using Site search, we would have to display that data on a web page before it could be indexed.  Site search would also limit our filtering options.

The client also has a news search and in the future with Epi-find, we could produce a location based search.

Winner : Epi-find.

Hacking Search Results :

On a lot of search projects I have worked on, a lot of clients want to 'hack' their search results to get certain pages ranked top in the results.  Neither products allow for search result manipulation.  The admin section for Epi-find does allow a lot better customisation, including custom filters, custom spelling suggestions, however, the big downside in this functionality is firstly, having enough traffic to warrant the time spent customising the results to get any benefit from it and having a resource to monitor it in the first place.

Winner : Neither


For the client's requirements, I recommend the Site search mainly because it meets their immediate requirements at a fraction of the cost.  Both solutions would meet the client's needs and both are a lot better than anything custom I could have developed in-house.  The Google Site search is a lot more restricted in customisation but for the price difference for this 'might need someday' functionality, it's hard to justify.

In the future, if our requirements change and we need some of the Epi-find functionality because the Site search pricing is so low, as long as the projects runs for 3 months overall the client would still be financially better off than if we went with Epi-find.