Alternative search engines

Is it possible to use one of the following search engines with Hugo?

I am asking because I have a site with 1000+ pages and 1+ M page views so the most suggested search engines doesn’t do the job for me (for performance reasons or budget reasons).

The website is hosted in my own server.

The problem is that I don’t really know how to connect my Hugo website with one of the above search engines.

The short answer is: Yes, definitely.

The longer answer is: Yes, but you’re going to have to glue the search provider into Hugo yourself.

The good news is: this is generally not too hard. Generally these type of search providers provide some sort of JavaScript interface, that you can incorporate into your Hugo templates/html to provide the search function.

You really will have to dig through the How To documentation for each of those search providers for exactly how your choice works - some work by

  • having you create a search index on a cloud server somewhere that you then access via javascript + REST style calls
  • having you use their API to create a .json local search terms/metadata database, that you host alongside your website yourself and access via javascript from your html

Some search providers give you some ready-made html you can just copy and paste into your html template which will do the work for you. Some will just give you their client javascript API and it’s up to you to wire that into your html search box control.


Sadly all three products require a dedicated installation of a server that is handling the index and delivery of search results. They don’t look like the JS+JSON solution that would make it really handy-er. I am a big fan of Algolia, because there it’s just like that. You add some JSON and forget it. And for private “little” blogs the 10k search requests per month that are free are nice. Didn’t we have a list of these kind of search engines somewhere?

You are absolutely right. But I have more than 10k search requests a month and Angolia is really expensive. The other problem is that my JSON is really big (a few MB)…so the common Hugo solutions don’t work here.

But is there another service where I can upload the generated JSON and just call an API (so that the user only fetches the results, not the whole JSON)?

Generally the sort-of open-source solutions (some of which you listed in your question), have the free version where you have to manage hosting the server-side API yourself, and then. . . the paid/subscriber version they do the cloud hosting for you. I’m not immediately aware of anyone who will just host the server-side for free without some of the usual limitations (db size/no. of requests/throughput etc.) - but I’d be delighted if someone else happens to know of something, maybe there is a free lunch out there somewhere!

Which works better for you. . . will depend on your cost/benefit analysis.

If you have more than 10k searches per month you NEED to install your own search index server with one of the programs you mentioned. That could still be done by using free container based services but in the end it’s a “hunt for free” vs. a hosted safe and working service. If your project is open source or especially worth the attention then sometimes providers give a better package.


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