Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:00 pm
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.
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.