Tick tock…tick tock.

Google Site Search just expired and the GSA replacement deadline is just around the corner. IT leaders, project managers and developers are starting to sweat (and maybe even panic) about your deadline. As you try to search for your replacement and take advantage of the work you’re already doing on platforms like Sitecore, you may find yourself with a lot more questions than answers.

How important is site search to customer experience and your overall goals? Have you strategized a plan to replace the search engine on your Sitecore site? Feeling the pressure? You’ve come to the right place. Since the announcement of GSA sunsetting back in 2016, we’ve worked with our digital agencies and system integrators to help guide Sitecore users to replace their appliance, from the initial decision-making to the migration – and we’ve also helped answer some of the same questions from Google customers.

Frequently Asked Questions about GSA replacement

#1 What happens if I don’t migrate?

Google Site Search is decommissioned. The end of the GSA license renewal period is this year. Choosing to “do nothing” or “wait” is not really an option. You will not have a functioning search and potentially suffer some very serious consequences for your organization. Keep in mind that these projects are not immune to all of the setbacks and hurdles that other software migration projects face; don’t underestimate the need for a buffer before your final launch.

Get started today by checking out these resources to learn more about the deadline:

#2 Since we have to replace anyway, is there an opportunity to get more out of it?

Absolutely. The time, labor and investment you are making in your migration is going to go to waste if it’s not for a solution that will last. In addition, your competitors and peers are not losing sight of this opportunity. GSA and GSS were great solutions for their time, but the fact of the matter is users’ expectations have risen to demands that these solutions and their like-for-like replacement solutions cannot meet. Basic keyword search without predictive recommendations or relevant results will no longer make the cut. Plus, virtual assistants, chatbots and other search-driven emerging technologies are just around the corner – but you will be left behind if you just go for a replacement from GSA, rather than an upgrade.

Find out where you are with your relevance solution and understand where you want to be by reviewing the Coveo Relevance Maturity Model.™ This will help you benchmark yourself against the market and understand your next steps for your replacement. Don’t get left behind as a laggard.

To find out more, download our whitepaper. It walks you through how to benchmark yourself and your relevance maturity, as well as provides a roadmap to use to improve your relevance maturity.

From Relevance Laggard to Leader: Becoming More Relevant to Your Customers, Communities and Staff

#3 Should we build or buy?
This is a tricky question, and it depends on your individual situation. For some organizations, going with an open-source solution makes a lot of sense. However, we caution that you need to be fully aware of the realities of open-source projects. We’ve seen quite a few project managers jump into these difficult projects…only to quickly realize that the projects were not scoped correctly to fully realize the benefits.

The truthful answer to this question is “it depends.” Your expectations, team, and IT roadmap play a role in your decision. Make sure you know exactly what you are deciding when you decide to go with an open-source like Solr or out-of-the-box solution.

In our recent blog post, “Build or Buy: Deciding How to Approach Your GSA Replacement Project,” Coveo Senior Product Marketing Director Diane Tetrault busts some myths about the decision to build or buy. We also have a recent Q and A interview with Chris Brady from Velir who explains how to make the decision for Sitecore websites.

#4 How should I approach this project?
There are two recommendations for approaching this project. The first is to use an experienced implementation partner who has completed GSA and GSS migration projects before. The sooner you start engaging with a partner, the better you are. The evolution of the market, changes in users’ needs and more need to play a role in your evaluation and selection of an upgrade/replacement, as well as ongoing guidance once you get into the implementation. We strongly advise that you do not attempt to “go it alone” without the experience and knowledge of a partner every step of the way.

The second answer is in response to the more philosophical question project managers ask about the project itself. Is your search solution really that critical to your business? What is the impact on customer experience? Can we just use a like-for-like replacement with the goal of no one noticing the switch?

Here’s the problem with this thinking: your users’ expectations have changed for what they expect out of digital tools, and search and relevance is a critical part of their experience. Since the advent of Google and the explosion of digital content, no one goes page-by-page through a website, browsing to find what they need. The first instinct is to search.

So what happens when you give these users a search and relevance solution that can’t personalize search results or use their context to narrow results? You’re failing them, and their patience for these experiences is growing shorter and shorter. Rather than put a replacement in place now only to have to go through another painful replacement in a few years, take advantage of this opportunity to learn about how AI and machine learning can provide a more effective experience to your users. Don’t just replace a box by another one, modernize your site with AI-powered site search.

#5 Are there replacement solutions that can help me maximize the capabilities on my Sitecore website?
Yes! You’ve worked to set up your xDB, are planning on setting up advanced personalization features…and you need a solution that can integrate with this work that you’re doing without requiring a lot of manual tuning.

Your solution: AI-powered search. Coveo for Sitecore is the only native and self-learning search app in the Sitecore ecosystem. To find out more, attend our next demo, which will exclusively focus on the capabilities of GSA replacements on Sitecore webites.

May 29 webinar
AI-Powered Search for Sitecore