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Google’s search within search. A wolf in sheep’s clothing?

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Google rolled out an update to its search result pages this week, which introduces a second search box beneath the top result, for large sites. This allows a site content search to be carried out all without leaving the Google interface.

 

An example of the new search within a search feature

Essentially it is simply an expansion of the existing advanced search string "keyword + site:url.co.uk", presented to the consumer in a more direct, familiar format. Google have commented that the tool “grew out of observations by Google about the way web search was being used to navigate.”

This ‘improved functionality’ for the consumer has however, caused a backlash from site owners and online retailers. They argue that they are not only losing out on access to essential consumer search behaviour data – previously obtained from their own site searches – but are also losing out on coveted home page views.

The change also offers Google the chance to display competitor AdWords ads alongside the second set of search results, which in turn increases the chance of a visitor deferring to a competitor site via a strategically placed AdWords ad.

This potentially signifies the beginning of a period of unrest for a number of online retailers and corporations, although there are already reports of Google bowing to pressure and disabling the feature on request for a number of undisclosed brands. We’ll just have to keep watching to see how this potential saga unfolds.

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