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 Klevu and Algolia are two popular search platforms. Klevu is primarily geared toward e-commerce applications with Shopify and Magento plugins. Algolia was built as a flexible solution for all different types of use cases. 

So, which one is the best fit for your business? 

When deciding between the two, it’s important to consider crucial factors such as desired use cases, performance, features, and ongoing maintenance. In this article, we’ll compare the experience each tool provides for your end users, business users, and developers to help you find the best partner.

 

For users

If you’re ultimately looking for a search service that will improve the user experience, there are a handful of important factors to consider. Here’s how Klevu and Algolia deliver on factors that contribute to the best end-user experience:

 

Speed 

If users can’t quickly find what they are looking for, they are likely to leave your site frustrated.

When measured, search queries on Klevu took from 350ms to 2 seconds to process. The Klevu search engine is based on Solr and is hosted on AWS, OVH, and Google. While this affords users flexibility and can handle diverse use cases, this technical generalizability has the downside of limiting Klevu’s ability to fully optimize its search algorithms for speed. This results in industry-average search latencies. Klevu also stores and caches front-end assets in a CDN so page load is relatively quick.

Algolia’s search queries take 70 to 100 milliseconds to process. Algolia’s search engine was built from the ground up with speed in mind. As the original Algolia product was built to run on native mobile devices, it is designed to be extremely resource-light so that even a basic consumer device can run it. The search engine now runs in the cloud, but it has retained the core systems and optimizations and thus provides extremely fast and scalable search performance.

 

Typo-tolerance

Users often make mistakes while searching, but this shouldn’t affect the relevance of the engine or the search results.

Klevu automatically enriches its catalogs by dynamically generating synonyms for the indexed content. This can be useful for quickly bootstrapping a new system, as it will not require as much custom synonym curation. However, they also use these items (along with fuzzy match) to handle spelling mistakes by searching these when there’s a search miss. This tends to perform less well than systems that attempt to automatically correct misspelled keywords. 

Algolia has a robust system for typo tolerance to make sure that users can find content even if a keyword isn’t spelled exactly like that in the indexed content. It does this using a distance algorithm that calculates the number of character substitutions, additions, deletions, and transpositions that are present and finds words that are the “closest.” The threshold for distance can be configured, which is important for handling different languages and use cases.

 

Autocomplete

Autocomplete improves the user experience by decreasing the time needed to complete a search.

Klevu offers a “Search-As-You-Type” feature that provides autocomplete suggestions from the first character that a user types. These suggestions include popular and recent searches. While Klevu’s autocomplete functionality provides good results and context, its slower search performance provides a less than ideal user experience, as users may see a lag between the time they type and the time that the results are populated. 

Algolia also provides autocomplete and query suggestions. Due to Algolia’s fast search performance, however, the user interface is truly interactive. This provides a dynamic environment that encourages users to experiment with searches and quickly find what they’re looking for without getting frustrated by latency and lag.

 

Cross-device functionality

Your search should be available regardless of the device your users are searching from.

Klevu supports a responsive browser interface that can handle mobile devices and all different screen sizes. It is particularly optimized for its Shopify and Magento interfaces. If you’re using one of these plugins, make sure to enable the mobile-friendly layout. 

Algolia provides client software and SDKs for all sorts of different front-ends — Android, .NET, Javascript, and iOS, in addition to a responsive mobile browser interface. This means you can create for your users a fast and easy-to-use search interface on all different platforms.

 

Personalized experience

Though a well-optimized search solution can certainly feel personalized, employing personalization tools elevates the user experience even more.

Klevu allows for showcasing recently viewed and trending products related to shoppers’ search histories. This is shown similar to a query suggestion when a user clicks the search bar. With this, users can quickly jump back to recent searches or see what is popular on the website. However, search results themselves are not personalized to specific end-users. 

Algolia is able to dynamically adjust search results to meet custom user needs. The search results can be adjusted based on things like product views, clicks, and conversions. These KPIs can be easily adjusted and configured to handle different use cases or business goals. 

 

For businesses

To use website data to make smart business decisions, business users need to be able to understand and use the search tool. They also need to be able to analyze and leverage data from the search tool to drive improvements in the search and navigation experience. Here are a few essential factors to consider for your business team: 

 

Transparency into search analytics

Having robust analytic and reporting capabilities is essential for making smarter strategic business decisions. In search, for example, custom ranking and online merchandising can be used to promote seasonal products, new product lines, or higher margin goods. By closely monitoring your data through analytics, you can make more data-driven decisions about which products to promote and then monitor the changes to ensure that customers are responding well to them. When choosing a search provider, you should ensure that they have all the capabilities that allow you to perform these types of analyses and monitoring.

Klevu provides analytics for searched terms, searched terms with no product found, clicked products, and checked out products. These are automatically gathered with the Shopify and Magento integrations. For those using the API or other front-ends, the metrics have to be manually pushed to the backend.

Algolia provides a number of data points automatically, such as search counts, top filter attributes, top searches, distinct IP and user counts, and more. No coding is necessary, as these metrics are automatically gathered through API usage. Algolia also provides a comprehensive analytics dashboard that allows analysts to quickly view and filter data with appropriate granularity. Algolia also provides more refinement possibilities on the analytics (by using tags), more analytics at the query level (e.g., CTR, Conversion Rate, Click Position), and an ability to compare ranges of analytics. Enterprise customers can access all of this through the API as well.

 

“White box” approach

Tuning and optimizing search is an iterative and ongoing process that needs to be specific to your business and customer. Typically, the relevance and ranking of the internal search is a black box for business users, and they have to rely on their developers to understand the internal rankings. It is important, therefore, that the search rules and configurations are easy to use and understand for all.

Klevu allows users of various technical abilities to modify search results. However, the logic for ordering and relevancy is a bit more opaque.

Algolia enables business users to tailor their personalisation and choose which factors should influence the personalisation to make sure the search engine suits their very specific business needs. Algolia is built so that all users can easily adjust search rules, relevancy, ranking, and more through simple drag-and-drop interfaces. While its technical developer tools are robust, Algolia believes it’s important for non-technical users to be able to quickly make changes themselves and track the performance.

 

Merchandising 

Merchandising tools are crucial for the business user to adjust the internal search relevance based on marketing priorities and KPIs. Ranking rules and promotions should be closely monitored and adjusted as consumer tastes and technology change over time. 

Klevu advertises automated category re-ranking. However, if you do some merchandising actions on top of it, a business user will likely not have control over the re-ranking and not be able to customize the search engine further. That said, Klevu does allow for boosting results that meet various conditions and inserting banners to promote products. 

Algolia makes it simple for business users to adjust the merchandising strategies with a visual UI that doesn’t require developer input. In addition, Algolia’s Rules allow for advanced strategies to be applied to the ranking strategy as well as more customization and a very business-specific approach.

 

For developers

Since developers will be involved with updates, improvements, and day-to-day maintenance of your search tool, it’s crucial the tool you chose empowers developers to do their job with minimal hassle. 

 

API-first

As Klevu is built with a focus on easy compatibility with Shopify and Magento, its resources and tools are optimized for these users.

Also offerings Shopify and Magento extensions, Algolia is an API-first service. This ensures that developers get the same level of consistency and quality that those using third-party plugins or other front-end clients get. By doing so, businesses can build on top of Algolia’s systems and know that the API will be maintained, supported, and well documented.

 

Tooling and setup

Both Algolia and Klevu have browser clients and third-party platform plugins. 

However, Algolia also provides SDKs for Android, .NET, Javascript, and iOS, along with a rich and well-documented API. All of these clients and SDKs are open sourced through Algolia’s GitHub so that developers of all ability can easily build on top of Algolia. This allows for both plug-and-play and flexible customization for more complex workflows. Algolia also offers robust documentation to help developers solve challenges at all stages of the search and navigation experience.  

 

Indexing

Klevu provides automatic enrichment by injecting synonyms for English, French, and Finnish language catalogs. They also provide good support for detecting attributes of queries, such as colors or type of products.

Algolia provides a number of capabilities for adding structure and tags to its indices to improve the efficacy and performance of searches. Algolia’s indexing times are usually quite fast (depending on the number of your records you, of course), as the infrastructure has been optimized for indexing speed. It also provides tools for managing different types of synonyms, including one-way synonyms, alternative corrections, and placeholders. These can be managed both by the API and through the dashboard. 

 

Choosing the best search partner for you

When choosing a search partner, you’ll need to ensure that their system is flexible enough to meet your specific use case and scale with you over time. Request a demo to see how Algolia can jumpstart the search experience for your business.

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