If you’ve visited a large website with the intention of seeking information, then chances are you’ve used a search feature. Lots of websites use them and they are especially useful to help site visitors find the content they want, quickly.
For websites that have a decent budget, then a custom search engine is often used. These are like mini-versions of Google, embedded directly within the website to search the content database directly. From a user’s point of view, this is a seamless and quick process, but the technical process that go on behind the scenes are often very complex.
Searching a database is an expensive task. Not in the financial sense, but in the computation one - the quick and responsive results of a search is the result of powerful machines processing query. It’s for this reason products like Google Site Search exist. Make that, did exist.
In early 2017, Google announced that it was discontinuing it’s Site Search service - an easy-to-implement, Google-level search engine within your website, complete with multi-lingual support and data biasing (where the most relevant results are shown first). This enterprise-level, paid service was used by thousands of website owners worldwide.
It’s odd, then to wonder why Google would cease providing such a service. With website owners paying to use the service, not to mention the branding requirement, it would have been a nice little earner for Google - filling in the gap between small websites with no search features, and huge websites with custom engines. Perhaps it became too popular for its own good? A paid service has expectations and service levels from its customers, and if those cannot be met, then those customers will get frustrated.
This is maybe why Google’s proposed solution is to move across to the free version, which requires ads to be shown to the user. There are alternatives, however, with services such as Swiftype and Amazon CloudSearch stepping up to fill the void that will be left by Google Site Search.
It’s the death of a product you probably used but never knew existed.