How to Build a Semantic Search Engine (Without Code)

JD Prater

September 19, 2023

Table of Contents

Have you ever found yourself endlessly scrolling through Slack messages, trying to find that one important conversation? You're not alone. Traditional search options often rely on exact keyword matching, which can be quite limiting.

What if you could find messages based on their meaning rather than specific words? That's where Graft's state-of-the-art semantic search engine comes in. In less time than it takes to finish your coffee, you can set up your own semantic search engine with Graft.

The Limits of Traditional Keyword Search

Keyword-based search has become inadequate for today's team collaboration tools. We've all experienced the frustration of futile searches in platforms like Slack. You type in a term or phrase and get either zero results or an overwhelming number of irrelevant messages.

Why do keywords fall short? Because they rely on exact text matching rather than understanding context and meaning. The search engine doesn't comprehend nuance or interpret intent.

Traditional Search vs Semantic Search
Traditional Search vs Semantic Search

What is AI-Powered Semantic Search?

Semantic search is the solution to these limitations. It uses AI to understand the contextual meaning of words and phrases. Instead of just matching keywords, it interprets the intent behind queries.

Semantic search aims to understand the context, intent, and meaning behind a user's query rather than focusing solely on individual keywords.

With semantic search, you could find that budget discussion from last year even if you don't remember the exact phrase you used. It would understand you are looking for a past conversation about budgets.

This new approach transforms search efficiency and the user experience. It saves time, reduces frustration, and makes company data work for you.

Let's not underestimate the cumulative time and effort wasted in futile search quests. Whether you're an IT professional, a software engineer, or a member of a product team, time is of the essence. Every minute spent searching is a minute not spent innovating, problem-solving, or collaborating.

Go deeper with our guide to semantic search.

What is Semantic Search and Why Do You Need It?

At its core, semantic search is about understanding the intent and contextual meaning of words in a search query. It's not just about matching keywords; it's about comprehending the essence of what you're looking for. It's like having a highly intuitive assistant who not only listens to what you say but also understands what you mean.

best semantic search engine

The Power of Context and Meaning

Imagine searching for the term "deadline" in your Slack workspace. A keyword-based search would simply pull up all messages containing that word. However, semantic search would understand whether you're looking for upcoming deadlines, past deadlines, or general discussions about deadlines. It can differentiate between "What's the deadline?" and "We missed the deadline."

In the context of Slack, semantic search transforms how you find messages. Let's say you're searching for a conversation where you discussed the "budget for Q4 marketing campaigns." You might not remember the exact phrasing, but with semantic search, you don't have to. The system understands the context and brings up the most relevant conversations.

The Benefits: Efficiency and User Experience

The advantages of semantic search go beyond just finding the right message. It enhances the overall user experience by making searches more intuitive and results more relevant. This, in turn, boosts efficiency and productivity. Why settle for good when you can have great?

Why It Matters

For businesses, semantic search can be a game-changer. It minimizes the frustration and time employees spend searching for information, thus freeing up time for tasks that add more value. In today's fast-paced work environment, this is not just a nice-to-have feature; it's a necessity.

How to Build a Semantic Search Engine in 5 Easy Steps

What's Graft, you ask? It's a Modern AI Platform designed to simplify the implementation of AI solutions, including semantic search. With Graft, you can easily connect to your company's Slack workspace—or any other data sources—and enhance its search capabilities.

And the best part? It's easier than you think.

Setting up your own semantic search engine with Graft doesn't have to be a daunting task. Here's a straightforward guide to get you started:

Step 1: Connect Your Data Source

  • Open the Graft platform and go to the data tab.
  • Select the option to create a new data source.
  • Choose your data source from the list of available sources.

Step 2: Select Entities

  • For a test run, you can limit the scope of your search to a manageable number of messages, such as 10,000. This can be adjusted later.
  • Once the data source is connected, Graft will prompt you to craft entities that you wish to search over. In this video, we selected Slack messages as the entity type.

Step 3: Create the Semantic Search Engine

  • Click on 'Create App' to initiate the building process.
  • Graft will automatically select an appropriate foundation model and start embedding your Slack messages.

Step 4: And You're Done! Time to Experiment & Optimize

  • And you're done! Graft provides an interactive UI for you to experiment with different chunking and pooling strategies and foundation models to improve results of your semantic search engine.
  • Graft also comes with an optional re-ranking model. This advanced feature automatically refines your search results, ensuring that the most relevant and accurate information is always at your fingertips.

Step 5: Deploy to Production via API (optional)

  • For those who prefer programmatic access, Graft offers a robust and scalable API.
  • You can integrate this API into your existing workflows or systems for more customized usage.

With a few simple clicks, Graft does all the hard work for you. It gathers the data, selects a chunking strategy, embeds the data, and builds a scalable backend infrastructure. Now your semantic search engine will be up and running in no time.

6 Reasons Why Graft is the Best Choice for Semantic Search Engine

1. Unified, End-to-End Solution

Why juggle multiple tools when you can have it all in one place? Graft provides a complete, unified platform that handles everything from data ingestion to the user interface, saving you the headache of complex integrations.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Graft offers a budget-friendly pricing model that gives you access to state-of-the-art Foundation models and search capabilities. Forget the hassle of managing multiple subscriptions and dealing with variable costs; Graft makes it simple and cost-effective.

3. Adaptability and Future-Proofing

Graft isn't just for today; it's designed to evolve with your business needs. Whether you're looking to expand into new AI-driven initiatives or scale your operations, Graft's platform is built to adapt and grow with you.

4. Ease of Setup and Use

Say goodbye to steep learning curves and hello to a plug-and-play solution. With Graft's intuitive interface and step-by-step guide, setting up your semantic search engine becomes an effortless task, not a daunting project.

5. Advanced AI Capabilities

Graft leverages Modern AI to deliver contextually relevant and accurate search results. While other solutions may offer rudimentary semantic search features, you leverage state-of-the-art foundation models to understand the intricate nuances of human language. Plus, our advanced optimization features like comparing embedding models and re-ranking automatically refines your search results, ensuring that the most relevant and accurate information is always at your fingertips.

6. Scalability and Flexibility

While some solutions may pigeonhole you into specific configurations, Graft offers a level of scalability and flexibility that's second to none. Our scalable APIs and continuous updates ensure you always have access to cutting-edge technology, tailored to your specific business needs.


With Graft, the power and simplicity of semantic search is here. You can build a fully functional, production-ready solution that not only meets but exceeds expectations. So why settle for less when you can have the best? Take your search capabilities to the next level with Graft's Modern AI Platform.

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Last Updated

February 2, 2024

Further reading

JD Prater

Head of Marketing

JD writes about his experience using and building AI solutions. Outside of work, you'll find him spending time with his family, cycling the backroads of the Santa Cruz mountains, and surfing the local sandbars. Say hi on LinkedIn.

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