Anyone who has been to an Ecommerce site with a large product catalog knows how critical search is. For the merchant with dozens of categories and sub categories, a strong search tool is often the best (and sometimes only) way to expose the entirety of your product catalog to the public.
By default, Magento Enterprise provides a strong search solution that focuses on core product data. It allows you to index a product name and description as well as product attributes and other meta data. This is often more than enough for many merchants who want to make sure that their site’s visitors can find products by common names, phrases or technical parameters.
But for those merchants whose catalog is extremely large, or who include a large amount of additional content in the form of documents, downloads, video, etc, more is often needed. We recently had a customer who was looking for ways to include additional content types as well as enable suggestive search (with type ahead features).
To address their needs, a member of our team, Wendell Frohwein , took the lead, suggested and modeled Solr search for them.
While the customer expected a long and drawn out process to enable this tool, the actual results were far different as Wendell shared with me, “The setup steps were actually very easy. For Ubuntu, it was 1 package to install, 1 configuration file, copying some files from the Magento core into the Solr configuration folder and enable Solr within Magento’s system configuration.
Just by going through this short process, the customer now has not only full product catalog searching (which is extremely fast), but they can also index and search static content and attachments which was an important need for them.”
Solr is a unique tool in that it provides full text indexing of web content but can also be used to index and categorize database content that may not be shown online. It integrates natively into Magento Enterprise, allowing you to focus on configuration and content management vs. Java development required by many other solutions.
And because of its deployment model, it allows you to offload search traffic to a separate, managed infrastructure which reduces the potential demand and infrastructure needs of your Magento Enterprise environment.
I asked Wendell why he chose Solr vs. many other options available. His answer relayed the flexibility it gave the customer when deployed within Magento Enterprise.
“Many other engines would need scripts to populate the indexable data as well as a mechanism to keep this data updated. Solr takes care of it automatically without the overhead of refreshing indexes within Magento every time a product or category changes.
In order for many other engines to work you would have to create the custom modules that handle the searching and the displaying of results. Solr does this for you and even more important, it allows you to configure vs. code many of the core parameters that affect how the search engine works. You can set the following settings within the system configuration: Minimal Query Length, Maximum Query Length, Maximum Query Words Count, Enable Search Suggestions, Search Suggestions Count, Show Results Count for Each Suggestion, Enable Search Recommendations, Search Recommendations Count, Show Results Count for Each Recommendation, Enable Solr Engine for Catalog Navigation, plus others.”
The end result of this is that the customer now how a very powerful, best in class Enterprise Search option, fully integrated into their Magento Enterprise Site that is completely upgrade safe. For any merchant looking to improve their Magento search results (especially those with very large product catalogs), we strongly recommend looking into Solr. It will elevate the usability of your site immediately.
Levementum is a Magento Certified Partner that can help you with any element of Magento Enterprise Implementation including search optimization. Wendell Frohwein is a Magento Certified Engineer and development leader at Levementum. To learn more about Solr or any related Magento Enterprise topic, or to speak further with Wendell, please fill out the contact us form and we will be in touch with you right away.