Get Advanced Site Search for Sitecore in Under 60 Minutes

SearchStax Site Search for Sitecore - Icons on Site Experience Platform

Do you want to get advanced Site Search for Sitecore in less than 60 minutes? SearchStax recently released Site Search, a new SaaS solution that is a gamechanger in terms of making it easier for companies to deliver relevant and personalized site search experiences on their websites.

For new Site Search customers who use Sitecore for their CMS and SearchStax Managed Solr for their Solr infrastructure, we have developed an integration module to accelerate the implementation process. This module is offered as a free add-on and reduces the implementation time for SearchStax Site Search to less than 60 minutes.

Read the rest of the post to see how to set up, configure and test the Sitecore Module.

What Does the Site Search for Sitecore Module Do?

The Site Search for Sitecore Module lets a user configure their SearchStax Site Search account and credential details using the Sitecore Control Panel and Sitecore Experience Platform. 

The Module performs three key tasks:

  1. Index web content – index all Sitecore web content using the SearchStax APIs
  2. Synchronize data – index any new data that gets created or updated in Sitecore with the SearchStax APIs
  3. Get started with a sample search page – use the SearchStax UX Accelerator, a sample search page that incorporates site search best practices, to accelerate the implementation process and lets developers quickly get search working on their Sitecore installations.

Install the Sitecore Module

First, you need to download the Sitecore Module from provided to you as part of your Site Search subscription.

Using the Development Tools Installation Wizard from the Control Panel, you will need to upload the Site Search for Sitecore.zip file. Follow the prompts to unload the package and click on Install which takes a few minutes to install. (Contact SearchStax to get access to the zip file.)

Before you get started or while the Sitecore Module is being installed, you also need to Create a New App from the App Management menu in SearchStax Site Search. This Search app will power site search on your Sitecore site.

After installing the Sitecore Module, there will be four new icons in the Sitecore Experience Module listed under SearchStax Site Search. One icon is for configuring the module and the other three icons can be used to directly launch the Site Search application so an end user can access Site Search Analytics, Search Management, and Relevance and Presentation.

SearchStax Site Search for Sitecore - Icons on Site Experience Platform
Experience Platform panel used by end users – see the SearchStax Site Search icons

The Module also creates a new SearchStax Site Search area with the links to the same information in the Sitecore Control Panel which is typically used by developers or admins.

Site Search for Sitecore - Control Panel
Sitecore Control Panel for administrators and developers

When you click on Sitecore Module Configuration, a form will pop up where you will configure Site Search for Sitecore.

Site Search for Sitecore - SearchStax Configuration

The information for this form comes direction from the Search Engine and Apps Management screens in Site Search. Copy and paste the information from Site Search into the configuration form:

  • Index Core Name: This is the Solr core name that is required by Sitecore to be able to perform index operations. This value is defined during the creation of the index core and is found on the Search Engines screen.
  • Solr Username: This is the Solr username used to access Solr. This value is defined during the creation of the index core and will be provided by SearchStax team or found on the App Summary screen
  • Solr Password: This is the Solr password used to access Solr. This value is defined during the creation of the index core and will be provided by the SearchStax team or found on the Search Engines screen.
  • Search Endpoint: This is the search endpoint that is required by SearchStax search page. You can find this value on the Search Engines screen under the Search Engine section.
  • Auto-Suggest Endpoint: This is the auto-suggest endpoint that is required by SearchStax search page. You can find this value on the Search Engines screen under the Auto-Suggest section.
  • Analytics API Key: This is the API Key required by SearchStax to log your search analytics events correctly to your application. Those events can be used later to improve the search experience through the dashboards offered by SearchStax. You can find this value on the Analytics API tab of the Apps Management section.

SearchStax Site Search - Set up Sitecore Module

After completing the information, you click on the Save and Activate button which validates the information. The system will give you a confirmation message when everything has been installed and validated.

By default, the module will index every page under sitecore/content/. You can use the \App_Config\Modules\SearchStax\SearchStax.Connector.Provider.config file to change this. As with any other Solr index, you just need to change the crawler root value. You can even add multiple crawlers to index different paths in your Sitecore instance.

After the module is successfully installed, you will need to go to the Control Panel and click on the Indexing Manager to populate the SearchStax schema. Look for the SearchStax_content_web_index. Usually, it only takes a few minutes but note that the time is proportional to the number of items you have in your Sitecore instance.

Site Search for Sitecore - Populate Schema
Populate the SearchStax_content_web_index to wrap up the Sitecore Module implementation

 

Set Up a Site Search Page 

The Sitecore Module comes with a plug-and-play search page template that will create a new search page in a few minutes.

Site Search for Sitecore - Basic Homepage

After setting up the module, you will need to go to the Sitecore Content Editor to create a search page. Note that the Sitecore Module installation process automatically added a template called Site Search in the Templates folder under /sitecore/templates/Feature/SearchStax/.

Site Search for Sitecore - Insert from Template
The Site Search template will appear in the SearchStax folder under Feature

For the demonstration purposes, we started with a bare Sitecore installation which only had the sample test page and followed these steps from the Sitecore Experience Editor and Content Editor:

  1. Create a new page called Search using the search page template
  2. Edit the current Home page to add a link to the new Search Page
  3. Add a test page with some content for testing purposes
  4. Publish the site with Smart publish 

To test the site search integration, go to the Homepage and click on the link to the search page you created which will launch the search page created by the Sitecore Module. When you do a search for all items, you’ll be able to see the homepage and the test pages you have set up.

Site Search for Sitecore - Sample Search Page
Sample Best Practices Search Page Included in Module

You can now finish configuring the search experience using SearchStax Site Search to update the search results display, modify facets, add stopwords and synonyms, and set up spell check and auto-suggest.

Now you can see how easy it is to integrate a site search page and best practices into your Sitecore site. To learn more about SearchStax Site Search, contact us for a quick demo and discussion or review the product information on our website.


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