Jun. 02, 2020

Tom Humbarger


4 min. read

We help companies deliver great search experiences and as part of our mission, we’ve developed the SearchStax Search Experience Maturity Model. The Search Experience Maturity Model allows teams self-assess their maturity level and provides a framework for increasing their level of maturity and improving their overall search experience.

How’s Your Search Experience?

Search is an important part of the online customer experience whether it happens on a website, in an e-commerce web store, on a mobile app or in a knowledge management application. Your users expect a “Google-like” search experience that anticipates their needs and quickly returns exactly what they are looking for without them having to do too much work. They wonder why every search experience can’t be just like Google, and that’s because their expectations have been raised by the experiences they receive on Google and other commercial web search engines.

Commercial web search engines have an advantage over the enterprise search engines that power the site search function for most websites, intranets and applications. These companies have tens of thousands of engineers focused exclusively on search and they have access to usage patterns from hundreds of millions of users and billions of searches to adjust and optimize their search algorithms. Plus, much of the content on the Internet has been optimized for search engine optimization and has well-defined and documented metadata in order to rank near the top of the search results.

On the other hand, website or enterprise search as seen on most websites is not comparable because the content is not always optimized for search, the search volumes are much lower and less predictable, and search results don’t have the same levels of human interaction that it takes to tune the content and search parameters.

Whatever the application or situation, quick and timely access to critical information using search will separate the winners from the losers in today’s information driven economy. So, how do you improve your odds of being a winner from where you are today? First, you need to figure out where your capabilities stack up against the competition.

What is a Maturity Model?

One strategy to understand and improve your current level of search capabilities is to use a maturity model. Originally developed to analyze software development processes and projects to prevent budget overruns, maturity models have evolved and are now used to improve business processes in many different fields and applications. 

When properly applied, maturity models can help users do two things:

  1. Identify the current and desired levels of their organization’s capabilities
  2. Clarify the roadmap or steps it takes to move from one level to the next

What is the SearchStax Search Experience Maturity Model?

Not all organizations or processes are created equally — and the same can be said about search implementations. This led us to define our own search experience maturity model to help organizations better understand where they are on the search maturity spectrum and what they need to do to improve their capabilities.

The SearchStax Search Experience Maturity Model has six levels of progressively increasing capabilities:

Search Experience Maturity Level Search Capability Road Map
SMM-Level 0 Level 0


No Search Installed

  • Search is not enabled on the platform and user search experience is nonexistent
SMM-Level 1 Level 1
Basic Search + No Analytics

  • You have a basic search solution deployed using the default settings
  • You are not reviewing search results to make any improvements to the search experience
SMM-Level 2 Level 2>

  • You have search analytics deployed on your website
  • You may occasionally review what’s going on with your search results
SMM-Level 3 Level 3
Analytics + Management Tools 

  • You regularly analyze the search results
  • You make ad hoc and tactical improvements to improve the search experience
  • You do not have a strategy, processes or dedicated resources to actively measure or manage the search experience on a regular basis
SMM-Level 4 Level 4
Analytics + Management Tools + Strategy + Processes

  • You have a strategy, process and resources to analyze search results
  • You have management tools to quickly and easily make changes to improve search experience
  • You systematically tune search using qualitative and quantitative inputs
SMM-Level 5
Level 5
Analytics + Management Tools + Strategy + Processes + Experimentation

  • You have an ongoing strategy, processes and resources to analyze search results and continuously optimize search
  • You have management tools to quickly and easily make changes to improve search experience
  • You use data insights to create new search models, run A/B tests to test alternatives and select the best model to improve the search experience

Improving Your Search Experience Maturity

Once you understand where you are in terms of search, you’ll want to learn how to improve and get to the next level. SearchStax Studio is a search analytics and experience management solution that empowers teams to measure, manage and optimize their site search experience. With SearchStax Studio, you can give your business users the tools they need to analyze search results to gain insights and make changes to improve your application’s search experience.

By Tom Humbarger

Senior Product Marketing Manager

“…search should not only be for those organizations with massive search budgets.”

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