Google recently started rolling out their new “search within a site” feature, which for some retailers is causing some trouble. When a shopper searches for certain retailers on Google, they are show the result with a new search bar under the result which allows the user to search for products and information within that site.
While initially this seemed like a good idea, retailers are finding that the new site search feature shows shoppers paid ads for their competitors alongside the content-something that would never happen if the user had clicked on the retailers site and searched from within there.
Many retailers are concerned that they will lose traffic to their site, or even worse, they’ll lose sales to their competitors. Mark Ballard, the director of research at a search engine marketing firm, doesn’t think that this will affect a sites traffic because he’s found that most users will just click on the first thing they see and rarely use Google’s new search feature.
Some retailers were also concerned that Googles “search within a site” feature wouldn’t be as efficient as their own internal searches. To address this issue Google created an option for some retailers to submit their search tools to Google so that instead of viewing the search results on a page from Google, the user would be redirected to the search results page on the retailers site. This also addresses the concern of paid ads from competitors on retailers search results, but as of right now only a few of the larger retailers have taken advantage of this option.
Google has also recently released other new features called “Structured Snippets” and the “Google Knowledge Graph”. The structured snippets are created when Google pulls information from different websites and displays that information under the search results on Google. The knowledge graph is responsible for creating Rich Snippets which include general facts about the search term and compiles them into a table on the right side of the Google search results page.
All these new features could be a sign of what’s to come. Google is starting to use artificial intelligence to answer more questions and requests from the users in way that is cutting out involvement from the retailer. Google could be taking away valuable chances for the customer and retailer to interact, which could in turn hurt sales. However, while this can be negative, it can also be a good thing. The snippets can create a better informed shopper for when they eventually land on the retailer’s page, so the potential buyer is looking less to browse and more to purchase.