Area: Optimizely Search & Navigation
Applies to versions: 12 and higher
Other versions:

Architecture and languages

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Optimizely Search & Navigation is a powerful, scalable query platform that can index and query large amounts of structured or unstructured data of any type, create custom search functionality, and build advanced navigation for non-hierarchical content. This topic describes built-in functionality and the underlying technology, as well as supported languages in Search & Navigation. See also the Optimizely platform section.


The following functionality is included out-of-the-box:

Note: To ensure maximum availability and scaling flexibility, Optimizely Search & Navigation uses dynamic IP ranges. If you for example require whitelisting of IP addresses in the firewall, make sure that your firewall supports domain-based whitelisting.

Technical foundation


Search & Navigation consists of a back-end software service, and a front-end facing client used for building the site search functionality. There are various integration options available for integrating Search & Navigation with Optimizely CMS and Optimizely Commerce, as well as other platforms. Search & Navigation is used as default search solution when running Optimizely using the Optimizely Digital Experience Platform cloud service.

Behind the scenes there are numerous back-end systems used for provisioning, indexing, querying, and monitoring the service, based on modern infrastructure components.

Provisioning of service account and index


Indexing content


Querying content



Optimizely Search & Navigation is built using the Elasticsearch search engine. The Optimizely Search & Navigation API enforces a number of conventions and restrictions to be aware of, such as adding mappings (automatically handled by the conventions) and adding and removing indexes.


Optimizely Search & Navigation is the foundation for search functionality in Optimizely CMS and Commerce. It is integrated using a .NET-based client API, and interaction with the REST API through Javascript is done using JSON. However, Search & Navigation is not limited to being used from .NET. 


Note: Search & Navigation does not support direct use of the JSON API, as there is no way to secure the connection without exposing the access key. In general, do not implement client-side requests directly to Search & Navigation.

Language support and analysis

You can index any content language with Search & Navigation, but to get the best search results, a language analyzer is used. This is available for a specific set of content languages. When purchasing Search & Navigation you will order an index and specify analyzer support for a defined set of languages.

Search queries in any of these supported languages will run through the language analyzer, and search results delivered will be richer and more nuanced than for unsupported content languages. While content in unsupported languages is indexed and searchable, no analysis is done. See Elasticsearch Analysis and Analyzers.

How does it work?

The language analyzer breaks down text based on a language's characteristics. For example, the English analyzer might use stemming analysis to identify fish as the root word for fishing, fished, fishes, fisher, and fisherman. By understanding how a language's words are constructed, Search & Navigation can recognize several versions of a word as the same term and, thereby, provide better search results. Likewise, Search & Navigation optimization only works with supported languages.

Search & Navigation's analysis and optimization features supports the following indexing languages.

See also Language-specific queries.

Compound splitting

​​​Many European languages contain compound words, such as the English term "steel thermos." In Swedish, that phrase is "ståltermos," one word. Compound words adversely affect relevancy for normal free-text search engines, especially for ecommerce, and can result in lower conversion rates.

Optimizely Search & Navigation uniquely includes a feature called compound splitting, which analyzes each word and discovers compound words. To continue the previous example, a visitor can search for the Swedish word "termos" and get a relevant match for "ståltermos". Most search solutions (including Elasticsearch) do not include such functionality. And, solutions that do usually employ a less sophisticated approach that does not give the same high relevancy and associated conversion rates.

Compound splitting is available for Swedish and Norwegian.

Turning decompounding on/off [New in Optimizely.Search & Navigation 12.3.0]

The default query setting is to not decompound the query string. To enable decompounding, use this syntax:

.For("query", x => x.Analyzer = Language.Swedish.Analyzer)

Here is how it works. If a user submits a search term fotbollsmatch, the query only matches fotbollsmatch/er/en/… and not (as it did previously) ‘fotboll/ar/en/..’ and match/er/en/…

On the other hand, if a user submits the search term fotboll, the search matches fotboll/ar/en… ,fotbollsmatch/er/en/…, and fotbollsplan/er/en.

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Last updated: Nov 05, 2020

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