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Retailers Concerned about Google Search Feature

In September, Google made changes to its Sitelinks Search Box, and according to Internet Retailer, some merchants are unhappy with the change and say it’s another way for Google to increase the money it makes from advertising.

What Is Google Sitelinks Search Box?
Google explains that with its Sitelinks Search Box, people can reach the site-owner’s content more quickly from search results. For instance, if you want to find a video on Youtube, you might go to Google.com, enter a search for Youtube, click on the link, and then conduct the search on Youtube. The sitelinks search box removes that extra step.

So a search for “youtube” displays a site search box in the sitelinks section, letting the user immediately search for videos without having to click through to the site first.

So What’s the Problem?
Revolve Clothing told Internet Retailer that when a shopper searches for its name on Google and then uses the Sitelinks Search Box to search for an item right on the Google page, they see ads for other retailers along with the search results.

If Google didn’t offer the Sitelinks Search Box, the shopper would likely have gone directly to Revolve Clothing’s website and conducted their search without being exposed to ads from competing merchants.

But there’s another issue: seeing listings on Google search results pages is not as attractive as on the merchant’s own website, which could impact clickthrough.

There’s a Fix for the Technically Proficient
A retailer with technical proficiency can overcome the challenge the Sitelinks Search Box poses by sending searchers to its own search results pages once the searchers have used the sitelinks feature.

According to Google’s September 5th announcement to webmasters about the new feature, “Today you’ll see a new and improved sitelinks search box. When shown, it will make it easier for users to reach specific content on your site, directly through your own site-search pages.”

The Next Web explained, “The company has made the search box more prominent (it is now above the sitelinks section), as well as added support for Autocomplete and the ability to send the user to the website’s own search pages.”

But in order to send searchers to their own search pages, retailers must have a working site-specific search engine for their site and let Google know by “by marking up your homepage as a schema.org/WebSite entity with the potentialAction property of the schema.org/SearchAction markup.”

Clear as mud to the uninitiated – no doubt SEO consultants can sleep easy knowing they are secure in their jobs.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.