Watch Out Google, AddSearch — Like Swiftype — Wants To Stop In-Website Search From Sucking

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The in-website search space is hotting up. Because well, let’s face it, most site search still sucks. The reason for that is that firstly search is a hard, expensive problem to crack. And secondly Google, the dominant search player offering an in-website search product, hasn’t got a huge incentive to help other websites have awesome searches all of their own — since a poor in-website site search invariable sends the user boomeranging back to Google.com. Good for Google, not so good for the original website.

All of which makes in-website search a space that’s ripe for startups to attack. One such startup, Y Combinator-backed Swiftype*, which was founded back in 2012, raised $7.5 million last September (led by NEA) — adding to the $1.7 million in seed funding it snagged in August for its ‘smarter’ site search engine (from Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Ignition and several angel investors).

Another newcomer to the space is Helsinki, Finland-based startup AddSearch — founded in April last year, but with two years of search tech work under its belt prior to that, it raised $680,000 in seed funding in November ($650,000 from Finnish VC Vision+, with additional support from Tekes, the technology funding agency of the Finnish government).

AddSearch tells TechCrunch it’s currently raising a Series A — in the “multimillion” dollar range. At Helsinki’s Slush conference back in November it was ranked among the top four pitches out of the circa 1,000 startups participating (see the bottom of this post for AddSearch’s Slush pitch video).

Its USP is a claim that it offers the fastest site search in town. And a brief test of AddSearch’s offering (via this custom demo utilising some TechCrunch content) lives up to the speed promise, with search results appearing in real-time, as you type — much like Google Instant.

Results are also displayed as an overlay atop the website, rather than having to wait for a separate page to load.

Mobile is another focus for AddSearch with support for all mobile devices. Site owners can also control which results are the most important — a la Swiftype — and, also similarly, it has focused on offering a low friction installation process to lower the barrier to entry. AddSearch co-founder and CEO Pasi Ilola promises  “zero maintenance or hassle”. Ergo, a fully hosted search service. 

“Searching on any website is typically a terrible experience: it’s slow, cumbersome and ugly,” says Ilola, discussing the opportunity it’s attacking. “Site search solutions haven’t developed in years, and implementing a good search is very expensive and time-consuming.”

“Our main competitor is Google, whose Site Search/Custom Search product is widely used. However Google’s product is badly out of date, and hasn’t seen major development in years,” he adds. “Google’s site search is slow and not instant, does not support mobile devices (without very time-consuming customisation) and does not offer control over the search results at all.”

Ilola also argues that its startup rival Swiftype is “old-fashioned” being as the results it offers are not instant. “You have to wait for the search results pages, which makes the search slow and cumbersome as compared to AddSearch,” he says, adding: “The speed of the search is our #1 USP, and we’ve worked extremely hard to make AddSearch the fastest search anywhere.

“We’re currently working with sites with millions of pages, and the search is as fast as what you see in the TC demo.”

AddSearch launched its product in November, at Slush, and isn’t currently disclosing customer numbers, being as it’s still in an “early launch phase”, but Ilola says interest has been “very high”, especially in the enterprise space.

AddSearch’s business model is a freemium subscription offering, with a basic service offered for free to bloggers & small websites, and then paid tiers starting at $9/month — scaling up to enterprise levels of thousands of dollars per month. (Pricing depends on the amount of content on the site.)

Today AddSearch has launched a plug in for WordPress – which is free for sites of up to 500 pages.

*I am informed, by the TC powers that be, that Swiftype is also currently powering TechCrunch’s site search