Major improvements to product and site search on Shapeways

The last couple of weeks we have updated both our site-wide search and
our product search. Our previous search options were very limited in
functionality. With the growth of our content — both in articles as in
products — it was getting very hard to find things on shapeways.com. I
would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit on what we
have developed, how you can use it and how to improve the ability to
find your products by our visitors.

The first update was our site-wide search.
We have opted to integrate Google site search for this feature. Google
site search offers the most scalable solution and with the use of
Google’s page ranking algorithm the results were the best of all
solutions we evaluated. We use the result set of Google and present
this to the user. We do not influence the result set in any way. We do
enrich the result set for shops, users and products with a thumbnail.
At this moment the total search set contains 175.000 pages and is
growing every day.
The second update was a complete new implementation of product
We opted for Apache Solr. This
solution offers excellent search results and scales very well. Moreover
it gives us the ability to implement faceted search. With faceted
search we can determine relevant categories, tags, shops, etc based on
the search terms and help the user to drill down to the most relevant
content. But this is something for later. We now focus on plain search
We index the following attributes of products:
  • product title
  • product description
  • photo description
  • categories
  • tags
  • owner
  • shop name
  • shop description
Not everything is treated equal. Each attribute is weighted
whereby the order of the weights is reflected in the previous list. The
search results are then boosted with the popularity rating of each
To make your products better findable it is essential you take
great care of your product page. Think about how people would find and
recognize your product. If you take care of thinking about a good
title, a great description in combination with a good product photo the
traffic to your product will increase significantly.
In the coming months we will further tune the search functionality
on Shapeways to improve the results. If you find odd results I would
appreciate it if you could let us know in the forums or as a comment on
this blog post.
As a bonus you can also find all products available on Shapeways
also on the Google shopping pages now. The inventory is updated daily
at Google. Just take a look at Google Shopping
and search on
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