As Google Ends Support for its Ad-Free Site Search, Website Owners Must Turn to 3rd Party Solutions
Ever since Google was nestled under parent company Alphabet, they’ve been shaking things up. With the “Don’t Be Evil” line removed from their motto, the search engine giant has taken to monetizing every inch of the Internet they own.
Over the last year, Adwords’ costs have skyrocketed as Google consolidated competition to a few ad positions instead of a dozen or so while also increasing the size of search ads dramatically. A study by Moz.com found evidence that the changes to Google’s search engine results page have negatively impacted organic search traffic numbers. Additionally Google silently made a change to Google Adwords bidding allowing campaign budgets to spend twice their daily maximums if Google deems it a wise investment of your ad budget.
Is it wrong for Google to squeeze more revenue out of their products? Absolutely not. But their latest move to monetize the websites of countless businesses is too far. As of April 2018, Google’s paid site search product will officially be discontinued. If you’re currently using a paid Google Site Search product, here’s what that means for your website.
Google is Adding Your Website to Their 3rd Party Search Network
By discontinuing the paid Google Site Search, Google will begin showing ads on your website when search queries are made. The ads are a part of AdSense, showing ads for a variety of things that you must control actively.
Here’s a Search for Common Core on an Educational Website with a Google Custom Search Engine
The Problem With Google Custom Search Engine
With a Google Custom Search Engine that shows ads, you can run into the following situations unless you are revising your permission within your AdSense account.
- Ads can display for competitor’s on your website (this is especially bad for eCommerce sites).
- Ads can display for off-brand content.
- Ads can display for offensive content.
Why is Google Removing the Paid Google Site Search Engine?
Money. It doesn’t make sense for Google to take a payment to block ads if that payment is less than Google makes from the ads. If you’re running Adwords, Google can make money sending people to your site and then make money again by sending people off your site. They also dramatically increase the size of their search partner network which will increase clicks. Meaning, more money for Google.
What to Do About it?
First off, if you run Adwords, you need to keep an eye on campaigns running on the search partner network. Expect clicks to increase, monitor it and make changes accordingly.
Secondly, if you don’t want Google running ads on your website then you need to get a 3rd party search solution.
Our Recommendations to Replace Google Custom Search Engine
WordPress Custom Search
If your website is on WordPress, take advantage of the built-in site search features. There are a variety of plugins that can simplify the process of adding search to your website. Or you can have a custom site search created by WordPress developers.
Best Site Search for Smaller Websites: ExperTrec
ExperTrec has affordable monthly site search plans for smaller websites. As of the date of this article, their entry level plan is $9 per month and includes 2,000 pages indexed and autocomplete. This would be perfect for a site that doesn’t need images to display or anything other than internal text results.
Price: Starting at $9 / month
Features: 2,000+ pages indexed, autocomplete, ad-free
More Info: Expertrec.com
Best Site Search for Larger Websites: Swiftype
If you have an enterprise website or a site with tons of images, documents and other things you want accessible to searchers, then Swiftype might be worth a look. Their entry level plan starts at $79 per month and includes 50,000 search queries, 5,000 documents and a re-crawl every three days.
Price: Starting at $79 / month
Features: 5,000+ documents, 50,000+ search queries, re-crawl every three days, ad-free
More info: Swiftype.com