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I am used to seeing Google try to siphon off traffic that once went to site search engines. It makes sense, from Google’s point of view, to grab as much search traffic as they can–the better to show their ads and put a few more pennies towards the bottom line. So Google’s toolbar makes it easy to search just within a site, and the true geeks among us can use the site” operator right from the search box. Web site owners might not like Google grabbing away these visitors, but the truth is that most site search engines are terrible and deserve to lose whatever traffic they have. But what I saw today still surprised me.

I have to admit that I wasn’t clever enough to find this on my own. Lauren Fiumara, my colleague at Converseon, sent this to me–it is indeed something I’d never seen before.

Web site search box in Google results for the New York Times
Do you see it? Hanging out just above this text you are reading? A little box next to a button that says “Search nytimes.com”–you can now perform a site search without ever even reaching the Web site, from that little old results screen.

Why should site owners care? After all, I already said that site search facilities are typically awful, so why not let Google search your site? Well, that can be dangerous. Every time Google does a search it shows ads. Those ads might lead searchers away from your site, even though they started out trying to search your site, which seems a bit strange, but it’s true.

Is there anything Web site owners can do? I don’t think so. Google allows site owners to control sitelinks, those links underneath the home page link on the search results page that leads searchers deeper into the site. But I haven’t heard of any way to remove the site search box, so you’ll just have to grin and bear it.

But you should also tighten up your site search facility so that even more people don’t abandon it for Google.

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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, a leading social consultancy. Mike is the author of two books on digital marketing, an instructor at several leading universities, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.

2 replies to this post
  1. This site search facility has been around for some time now.

    Google makes this available only on certain website. The reason being is that there are some search terms in which users will find the domain they are looking for but maybe not the specific article / product page etc so they will perform a repeat search. Google has been able to determine you have been served with the correct domain but not the right content and therefore provides you with the site search function to enable users to dig deeper into that domain.

    “Lexus” is another example of a domain that generates the site search box.

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