7 min

The Business Case for AI Site Search as a Service

Artificial Intelligence and Search as a Service combine to create the perfect blend of humanity and technology, bringing you the future of search engine solutions.

By Yext

Oct 7, 2021

7 min

The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is here, and businesses are starting to see its relevance: with a projected contribution to the U.S. economy of 15.7 trillion dollars, artificial intelligence is being implemented in just about every sector.

At the forefront of this revolution? Search engines.

This is because AI has heightened the response quality we can expect when we search. Search engines have moved beyond simply identifying matching keyword terms and providing "related" results to our query: with AI implementation, they can give us actual answers to our questions based on layers of algorithms and complex webs of logic and databases.

But to completely understand how Search as a Service providers are using artificial intelligence, we first need to understand exactly what artificial intelligence is doing and how it's doing it.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence may seem like a science fiction concept, but it's actually an extremely real and fairly broad term now.

At the level that Search as a Service providers use it, it's called Machine Learning, which is a computational operation that takes in specific data and performs a function based on the initial data. But over time, as the function absorbs more related data, it begins to make better decisions in the choices it makes based on the additional information.

If that sounds complex, don't worry — that's because it is. But consider a few examples to wrap your head around it:

  • Netflix uses machine learning capabilities to determine what videos to suggest to its viewers based on the videos they've already clicked on, combined with other viewers who have watched similar videos.

  • Virtual Assistants like Siri or Alexa are able to recognize the different voice patterns, synonyms, and phrases of their users the more that the user speaks to them. The more pieces of data the virtual assistant has of the voice, the more it actively recognizes and understands them.

The backend side of Machine Learning is pretty complicated, but its function is methodical and systematic. Don't get us wrong: we don't mean that it's simple in any way, but imagine the system as a machine that takes input, and it starts to become clearer how it works.

Consider Machine Learning more of a data analysis tool than what some would consider a true "artificial intelligence." It collects information from multiple sources and operates based on that data.

One interesting side note is that the term "Machine Learning" dates all the way back to the early 1950s. Arthur Samuel, a developer at IBM, was working on a virtual game of checkers that would theoretically learn its opponent's moves the longer it played.

The system he was creating was much more simplistic and small compared to what we use today, but this is considered one of the first practical examples of artificial intelligence.

What Is Search as a Service?

A Search as a Service company offers businesses of all sizes the ability to implement a high-quality enterprise search box function into their existing website.

They operate the same way Software as a Service, or SaaS, companies do by providing their search services through a monthly subscription and taking care of most of the infrastructure and maintenance. This means that businesses get access to the tools, teams, and resources of the Search as a Service provider for a monthly cost.

Once a contract between companies is agreed upon and signed, the Search as a Service provider creates an API or Application Programming Interface for the client business or use case to upload all of its relevant content.

This includes all types of content on their page, especially all meta tags. Anything that the user might access or the algorithm might use to shape semantic search results.

The content of a website is then analyzed and converted into a search index by the service provider, creating markers that the internal search engine uses to connect user searches with the appropriate content.

Specifically, how the service company develops its search index system depends on the company. This involves thinking about the future of internal databases, search, and how to optimize your customers' experience.

Rather than using the old system of keyword match searches, which essentially just matches specific terms from the user query to content on your page, Yext has developed a complex, AI-powered system that understands the user's questions with Yext Answers.

As opposed to other search as a service companies like AWS Elasticsearch or Swiftype, Yext Answers is an intuitive, continuously improving processing system that doesn't just bring your customers the first result that matches keywords in their search.

Instead, it makes sure that your internal search capability and the relevant results your users get are streamlined and specific to their experience and your product.

Why Use AI Site Search as a Service?

As you might be able to tell, there are many benefits to using an AI-based Search as a Service company.

From advanced consumer insight to cutting-edge search functionality, the valuable new features that a Search as a Service company can bring to your business is major.

You Can Let The Professionals Handle it

You aren't just paying a one-time fee for a new tool to figure out when you decide to employ a Search as a Service company.

We host the search engine protocols and the cloud space. We employ teams of professional developers to handle the maintenance and security of your search engine at all times. In other words, we take care of everything related to the search engine, allowing your company to focus on enhancing its consumer experience.

Not only do we take care of everything, but being a site-specific web search company means that this is our focus. We have professional-level tools and highly educated employees at the helm. So your company doesn't have to hire one new person to oversee all of this; you're getting an entire team.

You Can Provide High Quality Search Results To Your Users

As we've mentioned, some outdated services will offer a simplistic search bar that focuses only on using keyword matching for search results, connecting your user with potentially unreliable content.

And a search bar that hasn't been updated or optimized can do almost as much damage to a website as not having any search bar at all.

Picture a customer coming to your page and searching for a specific product. For example, let's say that your company sells candles, and they want a specific scent. An internal search engine that isn't integrated with AI or optimized to your company's unique index could show your user results that are totally unrelated aside from a few key terms or, worse, results from competitor sites.

These simple versions of internal search engines just aren't optimized to hone in on your company's content the way that high-level services like Yext are.

That's because we don't use keyword search technology; it's a tool of the past. Instead, our complex AI method doesn't just recognize a few key terms but rather understands the user's personal search.

By only accessing information that you upload to our system and using an AI-based search function, we can create a search bar that answers the user's query with exactly what you want them to see.

Also, our developers have tied in additional metrics and data from the customer to heighten the results from their search, including their location and the time of day. Our mission is to create a highly personalized relationship between your company and your customers.

Optimized search engines have been shown to increase conversion rates by 43%.

Make Your Website Work For You

Any business that has content available online would benefit from an AI Search as a Service system.

And with 60% of users reporting that they prefer finding what they're looking for by themselves with the help of search bars, it's more important than ever to make sure that you have the best option available today. Users like a website dashboard that makes finding what they're looking for as convenient as possible, and convenience is one of the essential qualities for a website to have these days.

That's what artificial intelligence and managed service companies provide. Combining the high-tech algorithms and the deployment of intelligence of machine learning with the top-of-the-line support and resources of Search as a Service, you can make your company as successful as possible.


PwC's Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting the AI Revolution | PWC.com

How Netflix's Recommendation Engine Works? | Medium

A Brief History of Machine Learning | Dataversity.net

Beginner's Guide to Meta Tags for SEO | SEMRush

Internal Site Search Optimization: Best Practices for Your Site | CXL.com

The Ways And Means Of B2B Buyer Journey Maps: We're Going Deep at Forrester's B2B Forum | Forrester.com

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