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Google takes another swipe at site search facilities

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”–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

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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