By Winston Burton
All good things come to an end… even if you’re still using them and aren’t quite ready to give them up yet! Unfortunately, Google Site Search will join the ranks of those good things as it becomes discontinued by April 1, 2018. Google Site Search is a paid product that lets you power your internal website’s search engine based on the Google search technology.
This does not come as a big surprise, as Google previously announced similar plans to phase out Google Search Appliance.
Is Site Search Important?
In my opinion, the short answer is yes, Site Search is important. Site owners use Google Site Search to find out what information users are looking for in their site. For universities and hospitals this is a good feature for doctors or professors to find information that they need to do their jobs. From a digital marketing perspective, SEOs and digital marketers use this data to analyze the search behavior and create high quality content, that was not on the site, that users are looking for. They also use it to expand on existing content to satisfy the needs of end users and increase the number of keywords driving organic traffic and conversions to their site.
Unfortunately, Google is telling their Site Search customers they must find a new internal search engine service soon as Site Search will soon come to an end.
Why is Google Doing This?
This is the million-dollar question that has many of us scratching our heads: why Google is doing this? From my perspective, the reason could be as follows:
- Maybe Google thinks more money can be made off site search products by showing ads instead of charging per query
- Maybe Google does not want a support team around this product anymore
- Maybe Google is trying to push more users to the cloud which seems to be the way that most companies are going from our perspective
What Does This Mean for You?
This is not entirely bad news, nor is it the end of the world. There are new products that can help you get insights into internal search data and create a better content strategy. Google is now directing those consumers to either the ad-powered product named free Custom Search Engine or the new cloud search product.
CSE is a free, advertising-supported version of Google’s search technology, that provides similar features and functions to GSS. We have had a few coworkers test it out and they got some good results and found great content. Other alternatives include the wordpress plugin SearchIQ which is also a good option offering similar features.
Customers will still get customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements. For GSS users whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th, 2017, Google will provide a free 3-month extension with additional query volume to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site.
SEMPO, the global trade association for search marketers, is set to launch an SIG (special interest group) focusing specifically on site search, watch out for the announcement coming next week.