Sitecore Search – Making search successful for your platform

21 April 2023

By: Sean Carter, Head of Sitecore Development

Category: Blogs

Given that search is expected on a Sitecore implementation and a necessity for your brand to succeed, what are the challenges around winning with search? 

There are now more considerations than ever around Sitecore search, and when asked which is the best option, the answer is, not surprisingly, “It depends…”. 

At Sagittarius, we have found that it can be helpful as a first pass to evaluate your search solution as to whether it’s better suited for an eCommerce product use case (with the requirement to integrate with a product catalogue and eCommerce platform) or for content-heavy, informational sites. This distinction will assist in the ruling out and/or inclusion of specific options.

Secondly, the technology landscape within the organisation (both current and future state) will play a big part in the decision around which route to take; in particular, if your target application is headless (or if this is in your roadmap), then you will naturally favour search options that don’t require you to program against Sitecore’s  ContentSearch API (or at least where a layer of abstraction is provided over the top of this).    

Sitecore Discover

To kick off,  following Sitecore’s headline announcement at last year’s Symposium, Sitecore now offers native composable Search in the form of Sitecore Discover.  Sitecore Discover search is a key component of the platform. It represents a significant change around Sitecore search. The traditional approach of having a Solr/Lucene search index programmability baked into the Sitecore application code has shifted to a decoupled architecture in line with the composable strategy.  

It’s important also to note that Sitecore Discover is much more than simply a means to enable website search. Sitecore Discover is a  personalisation platform that allows businesses to deliver personalised content experiences to their website visitors. Sitecore Discover adds strength to Sitecore’s eCommerce capabilities and works seamlessly with Sitecore OrderCloud, the composable commerce platform that will support your omni-channel experiences for B2B, B2C, and B2X.

Using the Sitecore Discover JS SDK and UI Components toolkit is the fastest way to integrate Discover experiences into your Sitecore Headless applications utilising modern Javascript technologies. 

From a detailed technical angle, the JS SDK uses built-in methods to access the Discover API. Every request returns configuration data for your implementation from the Customer Engagement Console (CEC). The following diagram shows how the JS SDK orchestrates authentication, data requests and results, page and widget display, and event tracking.

On a lower technical level, your application will contain widgets or UI components that connect with Discover API endpoints using the query hooks and the API adapter from the JS SDK.

Comparing this approach to a typical Model View Controller (MVC) perspective of the React framework:

  • The Model is provided by data requested from Discover by the API.
  • The View is made of the React UI components representing a widget.
  • The Controller is implemented by the query hooks to coordinate communication and manage the state of UI components.

Brand new as of April 2023, Sitecore has provided a   GitHub repository which has a  Discover starter kit built using Discover JS SDK and UI components packages. You can browse the demo to see the widgets in action. This is an excellent resource as a reference for technical developers to start their integration with the Sitecore Discover product:


At Sagittarius, we’ve successfully implemented the SearchStax Cloud offering for multiple clients’ Solr instances. Here are some of the key features that make SearchStax Cloud a game-changer for brands: 

  • SearchStax Cloud is a fully cloud-based solution that you administer via a single custom admin console in your browser, making it consistent and easy to work with. 
  • The service has been designed from the ground up with multiple clients’ support; our clients usually have  UAT / Production / DR as separate instances within SearchStax, each with their own SLA metric.
  • Backups and Disaster recovery are also managed in the admin console
  • For Monitoring, you have fine-grained configuration over email alerts to ensure the right people are alerted to any issues so they can act quickly to resolve these. 
  • Around scaling, the auto-scaling feature can modify the number of nodes in a configuration based on the rules you define. 
  • Thinking about Solr version updates and patches are taken care of, e.g. when hackers first exploited the Log4J vulnerability in 2021; we confidently informed our SearchStax clients that this vulnerability would not compromise their instances as SearchStax took care of all the patching and security hardening required.

In addition to Searchstax Cloud, another key offering from SearchStax comes as SearchStax Studio. 

SearchStax Studio enables companies to deliver relevant and personalised site-search experiences on their website or, to put it another way. In contrast, SearchStax Cloud addresses the provisioning and management of Solr instances, and SearchStax Studio is focused on the management of the search experience of the end user.

SearchStax Studio allows the Marketer the option to view key website search metrics; for example, you can easily get a quick view of key performance indicators or KPIs on the customisable dashboard — and then dive into the details with Searches, Content, Relevance and Power Search:

SearchStax Studio is a SaaS-based composable offering that can integrate into Sitecore XP, Sitecore XM, Sitecore XM Cloud,  or any other digital experience platform because SearchStax Studio provides API endpoints that can be accessed via JavaScript rather than via the Content Search API on the server side.

While this article reflects specific options to create successful search outcomes based on recent experience, other options may also be suitable depending on your specific use case. At Sagittarius, we live and breathe Sitecore, and we would love to talk to you about your Sitecore search challenges, so please get in touch

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