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#1369430 by ken-admin
Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:00 pm
Google has recently announced its decision to withdraw Google Site Search.

Not a big deal, you might think. But for some solopreneurs -- including SBIers -- it will be.

Site visitors love to have a search facility. It’s a great way for them to find information on your site, quickly. And for the online business owner, it gets visitors to the places they need to be, fast.

What was so good about Google Site Search?

First off, let’s be clear what Google Site Search (GSS) is (because at the moment, it does still exist).

GSS is the paid version of Google search for your website. It provides a great internal search experience for visitors, with very little hassle for the solopreneur -- just drop a snippet of code into your site.

It was a relatively inexpensive way of having a Google Search Engine right on your site, searching only your site.

The difference between GSS and the free Google Custom Search Engine (CSE), which is remaining, was that GSS did not display ads on search results. And that’s an important feature for many SBIers.

Because apart from internet users generally being sick of ads, having them display on search results -- and generally at the top of those results -- will potentially lead to site visitors clicking on the ads and leaving your site.

Sure, the click will pay you a few cents, but it may also mean that the person never comes back.

An opportunity lost.

So what happened?

A few weeks ago, Google started to send out emails to those site owners who had GSS (the paid, ad-free version) installed. The emails said they would discontinue selling new, and renewing existing, GSS packages from April 1, 2017.

Google subsequently made a statement that:

"For GSS users whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th, 2017, we are providing a free 3-month extension with additional query volume to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site.”

To translate, Google has decided to allow a 3 month period for webmasters to find another solution. If they don’t, GSS -- the paid version -- will automatically roll over into a Google Custom Search Engine (free, ads-driven) account.

So if you’re one of the thousands of GSS users worldwide and you don’t want ads on your search results page, what happens next?

Time to evaluate the alternatives.

Ever since we became aware of this turn of events, we’ve been working to find the best options for SBIers.

It’s not easy. Bear in mind that, because Google has cornered the market in site searches since it first introduced GSS in 2009, few companies felt the need to develop an alternative.

There’s now a gap in the market for paid, ad-free on-site search tools. Because of the short notice, many have sprung up recently and are, as yet, relatively untested.

So we’ve been testing a few for you. We’ve used that information to update and combine articles in the TNT HQ into one comprehensive “Site Search Options” article. It covers:

  • What site search is.
  • Why it’s important to an online business.
  • Some “best practices” for using an on-site search tool.
  • A comparison of alternatives in the free search market.
  • A comparison of alternatives in the paid search market.
  • Recommendations for each.
Now, we need your help.

This is not necessarily the final version of the article. The withdrawal of GSS has come as a shock to the market, and site searches are being developed to fill the gap Google has left. Our intention -- as always -- is to find the best of the best for SBIers.

So: do you have experience with any of the paid searches -- good or bad -- that you can share? Either those we’ve covered in the article, or others?

We’d like to know!

Post here in this thread. If you come across something that looks good at a reasonable cost but needs further assessment, let us know.

And in the meantime, read the article. If you use GSS, you’ll need to make some changes. If you use an ads-driven search tool, you might like to consider alternatives. And if you don’t use site search at all, now is a great time to start.

Both you and your site visitors are losing out if you don’t.
#1369472 by Juri from plainlight.com
Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:43 pm
Ken, thank you for the heads-up!

I didn't use the site search before, but got hooked and implemented my own ASAP 8)

The search uses services of DuckDuckGo. In the current version, the query is directed to the SE with the option to search my site and automatically forward to the best result found. Thus, the visitor doesn't leave the site at all.

Of course, it is also possible to show the list of matching pages on the DuckDuckGo result page. In this case, you won't see any ads. Just go to https://duckduckgo.com and perform any search for your site, that is

Code: Select allsomething to search for at site:www.yourdomain.com

To try it with the best match redirect, just prepend the search term with a backslash:

Code: Select all\something to search for at site:www.yourdomain.com

Anyway, embedding any option in a page or a site involves just a bit of HTML and JavaScript and is free.

Everybody is welcome to try and search my site -- I didn't test it properly yet, and don't know where you can land :shock:

Hope this can be useful.

Kind regards,
J.
#1369506 by Claude from hamradiosecrets.com
Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:48 pm
Juri,

Thanks for the tip about DuckDuckGo.com

I did a bit of research and landed on this page https://duckduckgo.com/search_box

It is for those of us who want to offer our site visitors a way to search our site (only).

I tested it and the results are displayed on a DuckDuckGo page. The few tests I ran displayed - at the top of the list - the most pertinent pages for the terms I was searching for :D

Looks promising to me. The only drawbacks I see are:

1. the results page replaces the page on my site that the visitor was on when making the query.
2. this means the visitor can only get back to my site by
2.a clicking on the back button of his/her browser or
2.b clicking on one of the links in the DuckDuckGo search results page - if any links are there for the term(s) being searched for.

I intend to test this solution to see if I can live with the above mentioned drawbacks - and any others I might uncover. I have been using the free Google Search for years and am annoyed by the ads for the drawbacks that Ken has already outlined.

Claude
#1369508 by A J from Somewhere Hot
Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:30 pm
I read the article, and noticed Sassy's site was shown, using Adsearch. As it happens, I did actually do a wee job for Sassy recently with that, set it up so it could have multiple search boxes on the same page and also a "search this site" message in the input field. So I tested it out at the time and was really impressed with it.

Cost is pretty high, and I'm not so keen on monthly payments like that. I prefer a one off fee but it is what it is I suppose. All the same, it does a much better job that google search IMO, and adfree so perhaps the cost is worth it.

I had been looking at ways to create a decent search with javascript... that could make a decent project in my quest to get better at js. :D

Cheers, AJ
#1369521 by Stephen from Monroeville
Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:48 am
the SBI article was fantastic ...

http://sbitips.sitesell.com/site-search-options.html

however there was no mention of "Sphyx" search .....

http://sphinxsearch.com/

i use it for many sites, it works great .... it will be under the advanced searches , and much customization, but being free and quick, i think it could be worth a mention
#1369546 by Claude from hamradiosecrets.com
Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:01 pm
Ok. I've installed a DuckDuckGo search box in the top right-hand column of my site (in a SW dot, of course).

If you know anything about ham radio (amateur radio) try a search. You will see what to expect if you decide to install a DDG search box on your site.

I have removed the Google Custom Search box ... permanently. :D

I now have a Google-Free site (unless I have forgotten an ad or two in some remote tier-3 page) :roll:

BTW, by installing the search box in the top-right-hand column, the search box appears right on top of the page of my iPhone when I hit the Navigation button. Just where it can be most useful.

Claude
#1369555 by Juri from plainlight.com
Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:51 pm
Claude,

This looks good!

I played around with DDG search URL parameters this morning. I adjusted the colours on the result page to reflect -- more or less -- my template, and just put it online.

I think what they offer is very good quality, surprisingly, as they don't have an index of their own.

    ... as far as I know.

Moreover, there is an additional bonus for your site visitors: their searches don't get stored.

Anyway, I am glad this was of use for someone else :D

Kind regards,
J.
#1369848 by Scott from Clarence
Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:00 am
Juri and Claude...

Great! I have 31 pages published so figured it's time for a search box. I tested your search box Claude... I'm gon'na go for it. :)

I noticed that at the top of the search results page there is a search box... I used this and it took me out of your site. Is this normal for most website search results pages?

I'm pretty green w/code and other techie stuff. If I have a problem with installation I hope you don't mind if I bend your ear! :wink:

When I was 11 I passed my Novice exam. I believe at that time...'66... I was one of the youngest ham operators in the country. When I was 13 I got my General license. I lived in Chicago. We moved out to Oregon shortly after. The fishing out here overwhelmed me!

Once in a while I still think about it and wonder how much it changed. I was a cw guy... I was really fast.

I built my 2 element beam and power supply. I used 65 wats and just loved morse code!! I had a transmitter and receiver. I was soooo happy when I got a rotator!!

My call letters were WA7UMQ. Long time ago... great memories. Miss it...

Scott & Nimble.
#1369861 by Juri from plainlight.com
Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:27 am
Scott (and Nimble),

About

Scott from Clarence wrote:I noticed that at the top of the search results page there is a search box... I used this and it took me out of your site. Is this normal for most website search results pages?

Claude mentioned it in his post: the results page is the same you see when you search with them, on their site.

Claude from hamradiosecrets.com wrote:The only drawbacks I see are:

1. the results page replaces the page on my site that the visitor was on when making the query.
2. this means the visitor can only get back to my site by
2.a clicking on the back button of his/her browser or
2.b clicking on one of the links in the DuckDuckGo search results page - if any links are there for the term(s) being searched for.

This is different from Google Custom Search, which lets your visitor stay on your site. (They can't search elsewhere from the results page.) However, I don't think this is a real drawback. If the visitor doesn't find what she is looking for on your site, letting her search elsewhere is ... fair, if nothing else, isn't it?

Kind regards,
J.
#1369865 by Cath, SiteSell Content Team
Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:40 am
Hi Stephen, and (speaking as the author) thanks for the compliment...
Stephen from Monroeville wrote:the SBI article was fantastic ...
http://sbitips.sitesell.com/site-search-options.html

It's always good to get feedback and I appreciate your taking the time.

Re this...
however there was no mention of "Sphyx" search .....
http://sphinxsearch.com/
i use it for many sites, it works great

Absolutely more than happy to test it - as you may have noticed, Ken asks for feedback on the search engines we've tested but also for any others SBIers have tried and liked so we can look at those and recommend the best.

Could you possibly link to a page where you have this on a site? I've looked at your lawnmower site but I'm only seeing the Google search bar.

It would be really helpful to see it in action.

Thank you!

Cath.
#1369868 by Juri from plainlight.com
Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:46 pm
Cath,

If I understand it correctly, Sphinx requires you to build your own index first, store it in a database kept on the server, and access it through requests to a daemon process running on the server.

Technically, Sphinx is a standalone software package provides fast and relevant full-text search functionality to client applications. It was specially designed to integrate well with SQL databases storing the data, and to be easily accessed by scripting languages. However, Sphinx does not depend on nor require any specific database to function.

Applications can access Sphinx search daemon (searchd) using any of the three different access methods: a) via Sphinx own implementation of MySQL network protocol (using a small SQL subset called SphinxQL, this is recommended way), b) via native search API (SphinxAPI) or c) via MySQL server with a pluggable storage engine (SphinxSE).

I am not sure this is a viable option within the SBI framework.

Kind regards,
J.
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