Xero Product Caught Out Showing Competitor Ads on its Own Website

Back in February, we warned readers that Google Site Search (GSS) was to be discontinued, and will be replaced by Custom Search Engine (CSE), a free ad-supported alternative. This free ad-supported version essentially means that when someone uses the search function on your site Google has the right to display ads above the internal site search results.

Well, this is now in place and we have seen one particular big player being caught out.

When I ran a test search last week on WorkflowMax (a Xero product) I was greeted by a set of sponsored ads before any site search results came up.

The real kicker here is that the sponsored ads comprised of serious competitors to the Xero-owned product.


Now you don’t need to be a genius to see the brand damage and potential risk to client retention this poses for WorkflowMax.

Update: 8:35am 18th April – Good to see Workflow Max have taken heed, rectified this and sponsored ads are no longer showing.

Why Should You Care?

If you are using Google Site Search on your website there is a chance you may be missing out on opportunities. Potential clients may click on the ads and be taken to a competitor’s site. Existing clients may be put off by the fact you allow advertising on your site and even show ads from competing companies.

Current GSS 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.”

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.

If you want to upgrade your “free” Google Site Search to a paid Google Custom Search then you need to follow the below instructions.


Book a free 20 min consultation with me here: calendly.com/glenn-marvin

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About the Author Glenn Marvin

Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.

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