In mid-September of 2017, Finalsite moved from the Google-based site search to an all new search platform that gave us more control and more options over site search performance.
Why did we move away from Google?
Over the years, Google has developed from primarily developing an ad-based search engine to primarily an ad-based company/ecosystem with a strong search product, which has altered their development priorities. Continuing to use Google search posed two main issues for our schools:
First, Google began including paid ads on all search results pages powered by their technology. Needless to say, we felt that this wouldn't provide our schools or their website visitors with the best experience.
Second, Google search relies on indexing publicly-available content in advance, and so it can never be extended to search private content. Google site search also cannot control how often sites are indexed, so it only ever covers public content (never anything behind a password), and is always subject to some arbitrary time delay.
What happened to search on my school's website?
The initial release of the new search platform simply replicated the existing functionality of the Google search, and was not noticeable by website visitors. You will notice that the "Hide from search engines" setting has relocated to the "General" tab, and we've added a new "Hide from internal site search" option.
Before going live with the new search, we first had to "index" all the content on all of our clients' sites, effectively creating a copy of all page content. The new search platform relies on this offline, optimized copy of the data, which means searching is now incredibly fast. As you edit your content, we will update the index in real-time, meaning that as you change content, it will be immediately available for searching by visitors to your website - no more waiting for Google to re-crawl your site pages!
Search is one of those tools that often works well enough that users can simply forget about how sophisticated it really is, and the new search tools let site admins take advantage of that sophistication to offer visitors new ways to interact with their sites.