On April 1st, Google effectively ended Google Site Search (not a joke); a product web publishers have depended on as their onsite search utility since 2008.
What does this mean for the future of onsite search? Does the move leave the door open for more innovative site search solutions that better serve the preferences and UX standards of today’s users? Absolutely. Why did they do it? It’s not entirely clear.
But, what we do know is that as the company phases out GSS, they will be offering a similar Search service called Custom Search Engine (CSE). CSE will be a free advertising-based service in contrast with GSS, which charged customers based on number of searches annually. But CSE is a step in the wrong direction for site search, especially for content-heavy media sites.
Today, users have grown accustomed to rich visual experiences while searching for and consuming news and information. This change in taste and experience was lost on Site Search. And as sites like Facebook and Twitter turned content exploration and discovery into an art, and in fact, a science, Site Search became outdated. Actually, the term “Search” is a bit outdated – a relic of the nineties, when a handful of very smart and forward thinking people were still uploading and organizing the world’s information. But the need for a site search function is still there. It just evolved; and Google has chosen not to continue down this new road.
When we integrate the concept of discovery into the act of searching on a content rich site, not only do we create a more valuable experience for the user, we allow web publishers to make their sites more engaging and stickier. This increases page views per visit, keeps people on site longer and decreases bounce rates.
Recently, Zoomd decided to take Site Search to its logical next generation. Zoomd offers a visually engaging user experience and a highly customizable site-search and discovery solution for content-rich websites. We deliver more page views per visit, more return visits, longer time on site, and lower bounce rates for media sites such as CNN Greece (www.cnn.gr) and FOX7austin.com in Austin, Texas. We’ve also added monetization to the product, making it a win-win for both users and publishers.