Using JavaScript to Create an Internal Search Engine

Interested in creating your own internal search engine using JavaScript? Yext has all the information you need to get started.

min read

We spend all of our time researching and developing the future of search technology because we believe that with all of the content flying around the internet today, a powerful search engine has never been more important.

A high-quality internal search engine creates and accesses an index of information, either widespread or focused on a particular topic. Then, it uses multi-layered algorithms to analyze a user's search input, as well as the user's search history and similar searches entered by other users.

After looking at all of that data, the internal search engine organizes and ranks content from its index and presents the rated data to the user on a results page — driving a better user experience.

There are several methods for creating your own internal search engine that range in difficulty. Today, we will talk about JavaScript and how you can use it to add an internal search engine to your site.

What Is an Internal Search Script?

An internal search script is simply the collection of JavaScript code that we'll use to create, design, and implement the internal search engine.

One of the secrets that developers share across the field is, no matter what project you're working on or what you want your code to do, someone else has likely already done it.

Coding languages like JavaScript are extremely expansive. While it's important to understand the code you're writing, a big part of the process is finding similar segments that someone else has already written.

We need the code for our internal search engine depending on how we want our system set up and optimized.

How Do You Create an Internal Search Engine?

As we mentioned, there are a lot of ways to create a search engine on your website. Users on the internet have developed multiple JavaScript codes that either connect to a Github index, access Google as a third-party index or crawl your particular site for content.

There are also third-party options outside of JavaScript frameworks, like Google Programmable Search and Yext Answers. Even though both of those options are convenient and powerful, today, we're focusing on how you can create a custom search engine through code, not implement one from another company.

But exactly how you go about creating an internal search engine depends on you, your website, and your users?

And what do you want your users to get out of the experience?

What do you want to learn from your audience using the internal search bar?

These are all questions to ask yourself when putting together your plan on creating and implementing a search engine into your page.

Why Use JavaScript to Write a Search Function?

There are many different language options when it comes to writing code, but JavaScript is popular for a few reasons.

Whether it's the shorter learning curve compared to other scripts like HTML and CSS, its widely available resources, or the convenient interface it uses, developers of all skill levels flock to JavaScript.

Here are a few reasons that we suggest using JavaScript.

JavaScript Is Widely Used

JavaScript is the most widely used software language, according to a recent study. This means that there is a lot of existing code that you can find to reference and a lot of materials for learning.

It's Easier to Pick Up

JavaScript's interface and language basis is generally considered much more accessible to new users than other languages.

Not to mention it has its easy-to-understand user interface to work within, and you don't need to install any other programs to write it.

It's Supported by a Majority of Browsers

JavaScript is a primary language used by web browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This means that your internal search engine script will operate the way you intended and should not hit any error messages or need to go through a translation process no matter what your audience is using.

How to Make Your Own Search Engine with JavaScript

As we mentioned, there are a couple of ways to use JavaScript to create and implement an internal search engine on your website, and we've compiled a few options for you to explore.

We recommend trying a few out to understand what they do differently. This will help you determine which process will suit your website best.

Factors that will determine the best script for you are:

  • Whether you have a lot of content on your site or not
  • What type of design control you want
  • What level of user analysis you want

JavaScript Kits

JavaScripts Kits is full of JavaScript codes and tutorials, making it a great educational and creative resource.

They currently have nine different search engine options, further proving that there are countless ways to implement a search engine onto your page.

But it's important to note the differences between them. They have search engines that browse the internet through major engines but not specifically your content, which might not be what you're looking for.

However, this example still uses general search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN, but it focuses them specifically on your website, which may be more useful to you.

Google

Google has its own developers tool they call the Programmable Search Engine. It allows users to implement an internal search engine that focuses on their content, just like the JavaScript kits.

However, the main difference is that with this tool, you're still essentially using Google, and instead of creating your internal search engine, you're embedding theirs and directing its focus.

You're still using JavaScript to do all of this. It's just that through this process, you're simply installing the search engine rather than creating it.

Whether or not this method is suitable for you depends on what you want out of the experience.

Helpful Features

Meta Tags: Meta tags are data tags that search engines, internal or general, use to read and analyze your online content. It's important to make sure your pages all have properly written meta descriptions, meta titles, and keywords so that your data will be picked up accurately by search engines.

AutoComplete: This feature helps guide users to shape their search into something more related to your content, increasing the accuracy of their search results.

Typo-Tolerance: Users will inevitably have a typo or two, so having a typo-tolerant search engine is essential. If your user has to re-type their string simply because your engine couldn't understand what they asked for because of a slight misspelling, they will get frustrated and potentially leave your page.

Mobile-Friendly: Smartphones are quickly becoming the most popular device to browse and shop on the internet. With 63% of online shoppers being on mobile devices and over half of all online sales coming from mobile purchases, it's imperative that your entire page and especially your search engine looks clean and works well on mobile.

Conclusion

Creating your own internal search engine with JavaScript can be a fun project and a way to better understand your website's backside. Depending on what you want out of the search engine it may fit your needs perfectly. JS works within many content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, and there is a workaround for common issues like dynamic rendering.

JavaScript is a powerful and relatively easy to learn tool that gives you control over your website. With plenty of existing code like the script kits and a ton of educational resources, JavaScript is an excellent language to create an internal search engine, regardless of your current code knowledge.

However, you may find yourself putting in a lot of time and effort creating a search function that meets all the requirements and provides the best practices and benefits you would want for your user experience and business.

Third-party providers can help you with everything from developing a better understanding of document object model (DOM) to optimizing for search engine crawlers. Even for an internal site search, you'll need to know how search engine bots process JavaScript, technical SEO and

JavaScript SEO, server side rendering (SSR) and client-side rendering, and a plethora of other tasks required for your JavaScript content to effectively create an internal site search engine using your web pages. Sometimes, it just isn't worth it to build your own search index from scratch, when you could do it with the click of a button using third-party web applications.

One of the drawbacks of creating your search engine with JavaScript is that you don't get the insight, advanced search engine software, or benefits you would with a third-party provider.

Learn more on Yext.com

References:

  1. Programming, Scripting, and Markup Languages
  2. JavaScript Kits
  3. Programmable Search Engine from Google

Share this article

Related Posts

Explore our Content Library