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Use of Solr Search Provider in Sitecore .
Usage of Solf search provider on Sitecore solutions becomes more and more popular. Solr is built over Lucene and provides additional abilities. Comparing with Lucene, it's server based:
- You don’t have a separate index for each CM/CD server, you don’t have problems with indexes sync on different machines
- CD servers doesn’t do indexes build, it frees server resources
- You are able to scale your search servers
The more big your Sitecore solution is, the more probability is that you will use Solr provider.
Out of the box, Sitecore provides three types of Solr indexes: SolrSearchIndex, SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex and SwitchOnRebuildSolrCloudSearchIndex. SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex is built under top of SolrSearchIndex. SwitchOnRebuildSolrCloudSearchIndex is built under top of SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex. Why do you need different implementation? Answer is simple: SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex solves big problem of SolrSearchIndex: After start of index rebuild on SolrSearchIndex you temporarily get empty index. It causes seeing no search results by user during index rebuild.
SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex solves this problem by having 2 cores: one core is used during index rebuild, cores are swapped after rebuild, second core started to used after rebuild. It causes 2 requirements: having different core per index and double amount Solr cores. Swap atomically swaps the names used to access two existing cores. The prior core remains available and can be swapped back, if necessary. Each core will be known by the name of the other, after the swap.
Note: names of cores remains unchanged. Changing of places “sitecore_web_core” and “sitecore_web_core_rebuild” are only for highlighting that content of the core was changed by swap.
But what is happening when we are starting to use few Solr servers: master and slave:
From diagram above we can make conclusion, that having “rebuild” cores could be redundant. And usage of SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex could be replaced with SolrSearchIndex, but we should disable replication during index rebuild. It could be easily done adding two Sitecore events:
Disabling replication on indexing:start. (if it is full index rebuild, not incremental)
Enabling replication on indexing:end. (if it is full index rebuild, not incremental)
Both these event handlers do web request to Solr server:
There is one un-obvious thing that you should have in mind: indexing:end event could be called when server is shutting down. It is necessary to check if server is not shutting down before enabling replication.
Now we get simpler process and possibility to use SolrSearchIndex.
Conclusion: when you have few SOLR instances (Master/Slave) on Sitecore environments then you can use SolrSearchIndex and enabling/disabling replication instead of SwitchOnRebuildSolrSearchIndex.
Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.
A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.
So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance.
What is a Content Strategy?
It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.
But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business.
Who are my Audience?
You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.
So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context.
Do I need to tailor content?
As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.
Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:
What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?
Who are they most influenced by?
What voices influence their behaviour?
What type of content do they consume?
Where do they consume content and engage with brands?
Different Content, Different Objectives
All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.
There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.
Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale.
Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels.
Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.
Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.
Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.
How do I manage all this?
Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.
Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.
Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.
If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.