March 5, 2008

Google could dominate single-site search

Google has begun to introduce a feature whereby, if your search obviously leads you to a single site (e.g., you searched on a company name), you get a second search box to search only within that site. More details at Google and Search Engine Land. Basically, this is Google Site Search made a lot easier to use.

I think this could be a really big deal. On most sites, it is already the case that Google gives much better results than the native search engine. (I generally use the site name or URL rather than the “site:” command to get this effect, but I imagine the difference is small.) Now that it’s easy to use, I expect increasing numbers of Web users to, like me, use the system that works better.

What’s more, there’s nothing stopping Google from co-opting the one way native site search is commonly made to work well, which is by hand-tagging of pages. Most metatags are devalued in search when used to compare pages from different sites, for very good reasons of adversarial information retrieval. But there’s little reason not to take metatags into account within a site, albeit with a little care to avert the worst potential abuses.

Large e-commerce sites running something like Inquira, Endeca, or Mercado will do better with their specialized search tools than with Google search. For most of the rest, however, Google is likely to win on quality, relevance, and utility.

Yes, there’s an obvious problem about ad placement and revenue, as Kee Hinckley recently noted to me. But:

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4 Responses to “Google could dominate single-site search”

  1. Lux on March 5th, 2008 11:41 pm

    Their market share on search is so big now that Google needs to find new ways to keep users within the “Googleverse” of their own ad inventory (aka content). Keeping users on a Google search results page, instead of handing them off to Amazon, is just one way of doing that.

    Google Knols is similar — why hand off traffic to Wikipedia if you can serve similar information on a Google-controlled page?

    I’m sure we’ll see more projects like these from Google as time goes on.

  2. Bill Burke on March 9th, 2008 11:41 pm

    We wrote an article on this very same new arrival!

    The Team

  3. Andrew on March 25th, 2008 4:18 pm

    I assume you know the Times only just got to this. Also interesting to see you can get yourself removed.

  4. Javier on March 26th, 2008 7:17 pm

    Seems pretty cool. I wonder if Google will kick some adsense revenue from the ads on the second search page to sites with heavy second box search traffic.

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