When you're looking for something specific on a company’s website, what's the quickest and easiest way to find it? Use the search bar, of course. Internal site search is an important part of the user experience.
Aside from making it easier for visitors to quickly find what they need, having a search bar on your website improves search engine optimization and also helps boost conversion rates. Research from eConsultancy (summarized in a recent Moz article) shows 30 percent of website visitors will perform an on-site search, and those who do are twice as likely to convert. Many companies have a search bar right in the header area of their sites and most have utilized Google’s tools to accomplish this.
However, you can no longer purchase Google Site Search (GSS), and by April 1, 2018, it will be completely shut down. Here's a look at what this means for your website and what you can use instead.
Google Site Search (GSS) was your own personal Google search to be used on your indexed pages. It also came with other perks like a strict image search, fully customizable search results and full tech support.
Conversely, Custom Search Engine (CSE) searches the entire web. If you're currently using CSE, there is no way to remove ads from search results. This means users could be searching your site and seeing your competitors' ads at the top of the results. Yikes.
While CSE will still be available, and it can be a great solution for small blogs or local business websites, it won’t work for any large-scale company currently using GSS. Check out this chart from Search Engine Land to see the differences:
Luckily, there is a good array of replacements out there. After doing some research of possible GSS and CSE alternatives, I have found an answer in Site Search 360. Here's an overview of what it is and why it's the best option.
Site Search 360 is a site search solution that has an easy setup comparable to Google’s CSE. It has an effortless dashboard where you can easily access everything you would need to update or modify your search engine. Upon logging in, you'll be presented with a variety of analytics, such as a section of queries over time with customizable time range, most recent queries, most frequent queries and query-specific metrics.
These insights are valuable as you look for ways to continually optimize your website based on your users' search habits.
Few things are more frustrating than implementing a new feature and not being able to get answers to your questions after the fact. So far, I have been impressed with Site Search 360's support. I received an immediate welcome email from the company's David Urbansky telling me to direct questions to him. In our email discussions, he always responded quickly (usually within an hour) and thoroughly.
Last but certainly not least, pricing is an important consideration.
Although there is a free option, its functionality is limited. It will only index 150 of your pages and is limited to only 1,000 searches per month. And Site Search 360’s branding will be on your search bar and results page. The route that would best suit us and most of our clients is the “Holmes” option at $39/month. This includes 3,000 pages indexed, 10,000 searches a month, full application access for more methods to search and access analytics, and no branding. You can see all of the options here.
Site Search 360 is just one of many options for site search, and it may not be the best one for every website. If you have the knowledge, time and resources to work with the cloud and server-side solutions, there are plenty of resources out there for you. But if you're looking for a quick, easy and affordable solution to replace soon-to-be-defunct GSS, Site Search 360 could be a perfect fit.
Search functionality is an important element of a well-designed website that’s set up to give users a good experience. For more tips on other elements to include, check out our guide to high performing websites.
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