Why Enterprise Search is Not the Same as Google Search

Due to the popularity of Google in the consumer world, many bring that as the analogy of what they are looking for in the enterprise. Beyond the more than 3,000 engineers that Google has working on their Search algorithms, ranking, and relevancy of results, there are many other ways that you simply cannot compare Google to your internal Intranet search.

Simply taking an “off the shelf” product like SharePoint 2013, Office 365 SharePoint Online, Elasticsearch, SOLR or the Google Search appliance and trying to make it “be like Google” in your enterprise simply doesn’t work. There are many reasons why, but here are six key differences of why Enterprise Search is not the same as Google search.

  1. Google search expects everyone will simply optimize their sites and has everyone doing the work for them. In the enterprise, however, it requires strategy and partnering to get relevant and authoritative results. Those who expect to get their information discovered have to do SEO to optimize it for indexing including adding titles, descriptions, keywords, feeding pages and URLs. In the enterprise, the users often don’t know how titles, keywords and file names have any impact, if at all. They must be educated and taught. Information managers who manage the sources where the data lives must work with the indexer to align the information.
  2. Google search doesn’t really do refinement. Users learn from Google that their information should be in the first 10 blue links or better. In the enterprise, the first 10 documents that match your search terms aren’t likely the ones you were looking for. You’re going to have to refine by date or narrow the results by site, department, or other information.
  3. Google primarily focuses on pages, and Intranet search primarily focuses on documents. The enterprise stopped producing lots of web pages after FrontPage went out of fashion. Documents need more care as it relates to search to improve relevancy, context, and meaning.
  4. While Google has been adding social links into its algorithm, the links back continue to be what Google search relies on to determine the page rank for its SEO. In the enterprise, there are so few links that it’s extremely unreliable to give it much credibility. It’s more credible to determine how close the page is from the home page of the Intranet. Click distance and popularity are a better judge of relevance.
  5. Google search is designed as a money machine. Those top results are keywords that are bought. Obviously you don’t buy results in the enterprise, and you need to setup a process to add these. There’s no simply way to have the departments manage their own results on a common enterprise search engine.
  6. Google is designed around anonymity and doesn’t know how to handle anything beyond its own logins. In the enterprise, everything is about security. Every system has logins and getting data that people need based on their permissions while not exposing information they don’t have rights to is an absolute must.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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