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Enterprise search vs Web search

When we think of search engines we often think of Google, the leader in the search space. However, Google is a consumer search tool. Enterprise search is not focused on the consumer, which means the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) techniques used in web search often don’t transfer across to enterprise. SEO ensures your website ranks highly in natural search results, whereas, the goal of an enterprise search engine is to ensure learners find the knowledge they need to perform their role quickly and easily. 

Enterprise search differs in the following areas:

  • Security: Complex access control lists must be constructed and updated in near real-time to ensure that users only see the learning content they are supposed to.  

  • Standardising multiple sources: In enterprise search, each data source is structured differently and provides a different set of metadata. This rich metadata enables faceted search, the ability to explore and narrow down search results, such as by author, file type, tags, subjects, categories and so on. 

  • Performance: New content added to the system must be available almost immediately, so indexing is a constant, ongoing process.

  • Complex, multiple connections: Whilst all search engines must ingest data to create a search index, web searches use a crawler to traverse all the linked websites. Enterprise search on the other hand, may need to connect with SQL databases, file hosts, and third-party content through an API (Application Programming Interface).  

  • Limited SEO data: When it comes to ranking content, web search uses tools like Pagerank to gauge how authoritative a web page may be, based on the number of other web pages linked to it. There are hundreds of ranking factors or signals to determine the order pages should appear in the search results for each query. In the case of enterprise search, the network of hyperlinks is limited or non-existent and the number of ranking factors and signals is significantly less.

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