Google pulls Site Search; replacement comes with ads

It’s not the end of the world as we know it, but webmasters relying on Google Site Search might argue the point. On Tuesday they had an email from Google advising that Google Site Search (GSS) is to be discontinued, and will be replaced by Custom Search Engine (CSE), a free ad-supported alternative.

Google says that no new licences or renewals for GSS will be issued after April 1 this year, and this is no April Fool’s joke.

GSS charges are not monthly but based on query volume, however. And any current licensee wanting to make the most of GSS can pay for extended use of the product through to April 2018. They’ll still get customer and technical support, if they need it, for the duration of their licence agreement.

Current licensees who don’t top up their query volume allowance and whose contract expires between April 1st and June 30th this year will, Google says, get a free three-month extension with additional query volume. This is “to allow more time for them to implement the necessary changes to their site.”

Why should you care?

Custom Search Engine (CSE) is a poor replacement for GSE: not only will site visitors get AdWords ads in the on-site search results, but they’ll also get results from other websites where GSE returned results for the host site only.

For publishers, there’s the possibility that they will be showing ads and organic results for competitor sites. CSE is also less customisable, and won’t (for instance) return results for content that requires login access.

If your site is using GSS and you’ve not wanted to invest too much in a search solution, there are other options out there you should check out.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.