Google recently stopped all new subscription purchases for their Google Site Search service. The replacement, Google Custom Search Engine (CSE), is right around the corner and widely regarded as a major downgrade to the old in-site search features. Our blog series helps you easily understand what the end of Google Site Search means for your business, what your alternatives are, and how you can turn this into a marketing opportunity.
If you didn’t know, Google Site Search is the search bar on your website that allows visitors to look directly for products, services or other content they can’t find directly through your site’s navigation.
The new CSE service, unfortunately, will serve ads on search results. This means your competitors can advertise within your website. While there are other disadvantages of CSE, the ads alone have caused many to start searching for an alternative solution.
In-site search features are important. As much as 59% of people say they use in-site searches regularly. Finding a replacement for Google Site Search can help you continue to accommodate these users on your site, without them being exposed to your competitors’ ads.
To help you avoid having these ads shown within your website, here are some alternatives you can consider for in-site search services.
What Alternatives are Available to Google Custom Search Engine?
Essentially, there are three main types of alternative search services to choose from: cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and server-side solutions. While the differences in how they work are rather technical, their value can be easily explained.
Cloud-based solutions, such as Amazon’s CloudSearch or Microsoft’s Azure Search, are by far the most advanced search services. They provide everything Google Site Search did and much more, including the ability to understand user search intent. However, they may prove to be too expensive and involve a lot of development work for installation and ongoing use.
Server-side solutions are on the other end of the spectrum. These search services, such as SearchWP ($49/year) or Relevanssi for WordPress ($49.95/year), are easy to install and use. They’re usually available as plug-ins for most of the popular content management systems and are relatively cheap. The downside is they’re not very scalable, don’t offer as many features as Google Site Search did, and can only handle low volumes of traffic.
SaaS solutions are more or less right in the middle of these two extremes. They offer many of the capabilities of cloud-based solutions, can handle high search volumes, but don’t require a huge investment of time and resources to operate. Some SaaS solutions gaining popularity are Algolia ($49/month) and AddSearch ($29/month). Most SaaS search services will still require some work by a developer, however.
Each of these types of search solutions has their pros and cons. The solution for you depends on how often website visitors use the search features on your site – a product-heavy site may need a more robust solution than a site promoting consulting services. You’ll need to evaluate your current needs and compare them to the solutions available.
Being Prepared Helps You Avoid Losing Potential Customers
It’s important to find a replacement for Google Site Search. The introduction of CSE and the associated ads could lead to lost web traffic and lost customers.
There are many in-site search services available to you. Taking the initiative to implement an alternative search function can help you maintain a great experience for users and keep competitors’ ads off your site.
To learn more about what the end of Google Site Search means for your business, read the first blog in our series, “Everything You Need to Know About the End of Google Site Search“. Stay tuned for the final blog in this series to discover how to take advantage of this new marketing opportunity.