May 04, 2017

Google Site Search

By James Wirth Organic Search Director, SEO, Maxus

James Wirth

James Wirth

Organic Search Director, SEO, Maxus

Google announced the shutdown of Google Site Search in 2018, a tool that allows brands and advertisers to apply Google’s search technology to their own sites. This change forces website owners and managers to seek alternative solutions. Understand what you need to know in our latest Change Briefing.


Google Site Search is a Google product that allows brands and advertisers to apply Google’s search technology to their own sites. It acts as a search engine for an advertiser or publisher’s website content, but without any Google branding, ads, or links away from the site. Features include options for multilingual searches and date biasing, meaning the most relevant results appear at the top of the results.

What’s changed?

On In April 2017, Google Site Search discontinued sales and renewals. Next year, on April 1, 2018, the service will be completely shut down. A companion tool, Google Custom Search, will still be available. This tool is ad-supported, includes Google branding, and lists other websites in the search results. Given this, and that there are no hard costs associated with its use, Google Custom Search is better suited for local business websites or small blogs.

Any website that had previously integrated with Google Site Search is impacted by this change. Website owners and managers should replace or disable the service prior to it being shut down on April 1, 2018. 

What the change means?

Site search can be a powerful tool for a website. It allows website owners and managers to cater to site visitors, keeping them on the website and helping them to quickly and easily find a desired piece of information versus sending them back to a search engine where they may see competing websites. It is important to satisfy these visitors as they are expressing a clear and deliberate interest in the site’s content, products and services. Poor site search functionality could cause these key users to leave the site, potentially costing the publisher or advertiser a customer, a lead, or a relationship. 

Implications for advertisers?

In short, website owners and managers who currently utilize Google Site Search must find a new solution. Fortunately, there are a number of third-party site search providers in the market. However, it’s important to carefully assess the website’s needs before selecting a provider. Website owners and managers must keep the user experience top-of-mind to continue to deliver positive experiences to ensure visitors stay on and return to the site in the future.

Site Search Providers

Website owners and managers should thoroughly review their websites’ objectives and needs before selecting a provider. Below is a list of several site search providers that website owners and managers may consider as part of this process:

AddSearch

With easy installation and mobile support, AddSearch’s site search product can be up and running quickly and functions smoothly on any device. AddSearch also offers search statistics and result control, allowing site owners and managers to choose and prioritize which results are most important.

Algolia

Algolia powers site search for major sites like Medium, Product Hunt, Twitch and Birchbox, and can integrate into almost any website to offer seamless and fast search. Features include keystroke forgiveness, find-as-you-type live search, an Amazon-like refinement sidebar, and geolocation options to help site visitors find exactly what they’re looking for regardless of device or location. With developer-friendly API choices and multiple CMS platform integrations, Algolia can work for most sites, regardless of platform.

Amazon CloudSearch

One of the more robust services available is CloudSearch. However, it can be difficult to implement and install since it requires a crawler be setup. As such, it is highly recommended that a developer implement this solution. ACS has a rich feature set and charges based on use, with smaller plans running around $50 per year.

Apache Solr

Solr is an open-source enterprise platform built on Apache Lucene. Solr is scalable to fit any high-traffic website, with distributed indexing and load-balanced querying, Solr is the trusted search provider for a number of large businesses, including Sears, eHarmony and BestBuy. Solr features comprehensive administration features, easy-to-understand analytics, and advanced full-text search options.

Cludo

Cludo adds relevance to search results by including automatic spell-checking against spelling errors, common synonyms, alternate spelling and word derivatives. Cludo also boasts an easy integration path, requiring only the ‘copying and pasting a few scripts’ to be up and running, according to their website. Its analytics reports offer insights into what site visitors are searching for and how they are searching.

Swiftype

Swiftype’s customers include CBS, AOL and AT&T. In addition to standard features offered by most site search providers, Swiftype uses an advanced search algorithm based on language modeling intelligence that takes into account factors like bigram matching and stemming. Faceted search through Swiftype gives site visitors even more control over their searches by allowing them to refine different search attributes. This might include date, price, location, content type, author, and “Last Updated.”

Key Takeaways

  • These changes will impact any advertiser currently using Google Site Search.
  • All advertisers should have an alternative search provider prior to the April 1, 2018 shutdown.
  • Google Custom Search will still be available, however this is recommended for local businesses or smaller blog sites.
  • Advertisers and brands have a variety of search providers for this service, such as: AddSearch, Algolia, Amazon Cloud Search, Apache Solr, Clude and Swifttype.

NOTE: This is an educational piece and by no means provides an endorsement of any particular media/technology supplier. It is essential that investment decisions are fully counseled by your Digital Investment Group.