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How to Increase Search Speed With Angular, Apache Solr, and Drupal

February 05, 2019

Businesses can exponentially increase their websites’ speed and search function by leveraging a combination of Angular, Apache Solr, and Drupal.

If your business is growing, but your website isn’t keeping up with user search demands, it may be time to find a new software solution. Slow site speed is an important factor that companies can improve to boost SEO.

Companies can improve their search function by combining three different types of software:

  • Drupal: An open source content management system that can be highly customized
  • Angular: An open source Javascript web application platform that increases performance
  • Apache Solr: An open source search platform that allows for more accurate search results and is equipped with highly customized facets that work toward better results

Not only does this combination increase search speed and expand searching capabilities, but it also allows your website to work as a progressive web app (PWA).

You can use this article to learn how combining these three types of software can help you improve your website.

Why Combined Software Functions as a Progressive Web App

Companies that use combined software can build websites that function as PWAs.

A PWA is an app that actually lives on the Internet as a website. PWAs are accessible from all app stores without being separately configured for Android and iOS.

When you’re using a PWA, you’re using an app that has been created with web technologies, while behaving with the convenience and speed of a mobile app.

In fact, according to Google’s own case study findings, the benefits of PWAs include a 68% increase in mobile traffic, a 15-time faster load and install time, a 52% increase in conversions, 137% increase in engagement, and a whopping 133.67% increase in page views.

At Inclind, we recently used this trifecta of technologies for RentABeach.com, a rental listing site that indexes more than 10,000 beach rental properties.

RentABeach.com requires a large database that users can search.

RentABeach pulls rental listings on the North Carolina and Virginia coasts into one website, making it convenient for visitors to use one centralized platform to search for the right vacation destination.

Because RentABeach exists as a PWA, users who access it on mobile devices can use native app functions, such as location services. This approach also allowed us to strengthen and streamline the search feature – the anchor for this site – for a large inventory of beach rentals available from Virginia Beach to the Brunswick Island beaches of southern North Carolina.

A PWA reduces technical debt and any maintenance costs because of its scalability. Because you would only need to maintain the PWA, versus maintenance of both a website and an app, there is less technical debt, and less time and money spent.

How Decoupled Drupal Increases Speed for Large-Scale Websites

For companies that need to increase their site speed, decoupled Drupal may be a promising solution.

Reducing your website’s page load time can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your business. Studies show that if your website takes longer than three seconds to load, you could be losing more than half of your visitors.

Drupal is designed to handle a high volume of content for a high volume of users, so a well-configured Drupal site can scale to millions of visitors per day. Drupal is also highly customizable, with robust SEO features and the muscle to manage large catalogs, listings, and member databases.

Drupal’s content management system (CMS) is ideal for large-scale websites that require compound layers of functionality like the 10,000+ beach rental properties listed from Virginia to North Carolina coasts on RentABeach.com.

Developers use the term “decoupled” to refer to an architecture where Drupal is not controlling the front end of the website and Javascript/Angular is driving the presentation of the data. Decoupled Drupal allows you to use the powerful Drupal 8 CMS with a custom front-facing website that stands alone, as opposed to having a website that uses both a Drupal-powered front-end and backend.

The benefits of decoupled Drupal include:

  • Option to easily replace your front-facing website in the future
  • Freedom to use multiple technologies
  • Ability to create a website like a PWA
  • Speed, flexibility, and power

Decoupled Drupal makes it easy to update your website’s front-end. It gives you access to all of the features Drupal offers, with a front-end powered separately through other technologies and APIs. Front-facing sites can easily be changed at any time without disrupting the backend, which is helpful when planning a redesign.

It also allows you to use multiple technologies to create a website that functions like a PWA. Decoupled Drupal is strengthened even more when using Javascript-based frameworks like Angular.js for PWAs, interactive websites, and mobile apps.

Decoupled Drupal also provides speed and power. You can combine Angular.js and Apache Solr with a decoupled Drupal framework to boost the speed of search functions even more.

When we built RentABeach’s website, we combined Drupal, Angular.js and Apache Solr to create fast search results and the capability to leverage the website as a PWA. Other companies can use this approach to achieve similar results.

How Angular’s Flexibility Boosts Site Speed

Websites that need a high degree of flexibility should consider using Angular.

Angular’s flexibility and overall architecture allows users to quickly build a complex application. It also facilitates the process more quickly, in many instances, than a traditional CMS.

Angular is a Javascript framework used for creating more complex web-based applications. When used in a decoupled solution along with Drupal, it can increase performance by removing any possible database bottlenecks within Drupal search functions.

For example, RentABeach’s combination of Angular, Solr, and Drupal improved search speeds by 2,000%.

RentABeach.com uses three technologies to boost search speed.

By providing a flexible framework, Angular can help you build a website with faster search speed, especially when combined with other software like decoupled Drupal.

How Apache Solr Speeds Up Search

You can boost your website’s search speed even more by incorporating a third software: Apache Solr.

Solr is an open-source, scalable search platform within the Apache Lucene Project, an open source information retrieval software library.

Unlike a database search, Solr allows you to reduce search times from an average of 8-10 seconds per query down to half a second per query.

Solr also offers a flexible search experience that features a full-text search, search highlighting, geospatial faceting, caching, and more – all with little or no configuration.

For example, with real estate sites like RentABeach.com, Solr provides the faceted search capabilities (i.e., number of bedrooms filter, amenities filter) needed to index thousands of properties, as well as the fast response time.

When you combine Solr with Drupal, you can narrow your search content with much-improved precision, plus boost your website’s overall speed.

Combine Software to Achieve Stronger Results

Plenty of software companies will promise to help your website overcome any obstacle – but you might actually achieve better results by investing in the right combination of tools.

By using a decoupled Drupal framework, you can manage high traffic websites to ensure scalability as traffic and content only continue to increase. Plus, the new Drupal 8 layout builder allows you to easily create landing pages to drive traffic and improve conversions.

You can also leverage Angular and Apache Solr to improve search speed by sidestepping Drupal for faster page loads and faster results.


About the Author

Ashley Daniels HeadshotAshley Daniels lives and works as a writer and editor in the resort town of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Her folio is chock-full of nearly 20 years of regional and national published work, including those on such South Carolina celebs as Darius Rucker, Dustin Johnson, Vanna White, Nancy O’Dell, the late author Mickey Spillane and more. In addition to print media, Ashley also boasts several years of web content writing experience. She’s also taken home two Best of Show ADDY awards and numerous silver ADDYs in the Coastal Carolinas for her copywriting work in all media formats that range from travel/tourism and hospitality campaigns to food and apparel retail, telecommunications and more. When her eyes aren’t glued to her laptop, Ashley loves staying active with her husband and three sons, ages 9, 7, and 9 months, at the beach or on the water.