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Google has started to add a secondary search box to some larger websites' listings in a move it says will help it deliver more accurate results.

But will the new feature funnel traffic away from sites' internal search and navigation tools, perhaps not always to the benefit of users?

Google search: times

The new boxes appear when you search for the brand names of a number of UK newspaper sites, as well as major retailers like Tesco:

Tesco Google search

In its blog, Google claims they will make searchers' lives easier - helping them find the exact pages they are looking for, while of course generating more page impressions for Big G itself.

They may also compensate for poor internal search functionality on some sites, though I'm not sure that applies to the likes of Tesco.

For instance, if you want to buy a fridge from the supermarket giant, searching via Google brings you a jumble of results, with no sorting or filtering options:

Google search Tesco fridges

Searching the site itself will give you a list sorted by relevance, with the ability to filter the results according to brand and price:

Tesco fridge search

Firms, meanwhile, might also be worried about the potential implications if traffic is diverted away from their internal search and navigation functions - a valuable source of data on customer behaviour.

One imagines it will also be a concern for sites that rely on CPM ad revenue and retailers that have prioritised investment in their homepages. 

Knowing how and when Google decides to make the new search boxes appear would be a help, but its blog (unsurprisingly) doesn't go into much detail:

"This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site.

"Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users."

From what we can see, Google introduces the new boxes when users search for some popular websites' brands. But there are some puzzling "algorithmic" discrepancies.

For example, I can't understand why the Times, Guardian etc get their own search boxes, but the BBC doesn't.

And nor does Yahoo.

Related posts:
Search Engine Optimisation Best Practice Guide
Site Search Buyer's Guide

Related stories:
Google Quality Score dented by slow landing pages
Google loses clicks, Microsoft adds engagement  

Graham Charlton

Published 7 March, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (5)


Kunle Campbell, Web Marketing Manger at Property Frontiers

Yes I noticed it just yesterday. Only works only on select sites but I think it would be quite useful as works only on website name search i.e. "Rightmove", "Timesonline"

over 8 years ago


Kunle Campbell, Web Marketing Manger at Property Frontiers

neither does Amazon

over 8 years ago


Kaya PPC, Internet Marketing Manager at Optimised Media

From what I can gather this change just happened overnight. Google usually test such changes before they are widely implemented. I expect fuller coverage of brands over time. My concern is that this is another way of larger brands pushing out smaller ones. That search box will be pushing at least one other search result below the fold.


over 8 years ago


Dave R

It's welcome as long as it's better. I suppose 2 options is better than 1. An outside source putting pressure on the internal option. Some internal searches are very poor. In the case of tesco, google appears the inferior choice. Ironically I don't like the BBCs internal search

over 8 years ago


Kunle Campbell, Web Marketing Manger at Property Frontiers

It gives everyone options - if I regularly use a highly functional internal search engine then I'd use use Google's site search. If I however come across an inferior site search engine, I'll have to opt for Google's site search. Its all about options at the end of the day

over 8 years ago

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