E-retailers who use Google Site Search will need to update their e-commerce site search or move to a version that contains ads.

Online retailers that use Google Site Search on their websites will have to search for a new site search service as Google Inc. is discontinuing the product this year.

The product powers the site search capabilities for 30 retailers in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000, including OmahaSteaks.com Inc. (No. 145), postage seller Stamps.com Inc. (No. 156) and online apparel retailer ScotteVest Inc. (No. 840).

“We will provide customer and technical support through the duration of license agreements,” a Google spokesman says.

The search giant priced Google Site Search based on the number of queries, or searchers, made on the site. The cost started at $100 for 20,000 queries per year. Google will extend contracts that expire between April 1 and June 30, 2017, by three months, and will allot additional query volume to help businesses make the necessary changes to their site, the Google spokesman says.

Web-only retailer ScotteVest Inc. says Google did not notify it that the service would be discontinued, chief operating officer Marshall Rule says.


“We chose Google Site Search just because it was the easiest and quickest program,” Rule says. ScotteVest has not decided on a replacement for Google’s product, but it may consider writing its own code for site search, he says.

Many retailers will likely consider this home-grown route, says Arthur McManus, senior vice president, provider program, at e-commerce consulting firm FitForCommerce. In fact, 249 retailers in the Top 1000 developed their site search feature in house, according to Top500Guide.com. Most likely, retailers will see what their e-commerce platform provider can offer and go from there, McManus says.

Google is encouraging retailers to use its Custom Search Engine product, which is a similar free tool but with advertisements. Ads within an e-commerce site’s search page, however, are not ideal for e-retailers, says Brian Klais, founder and president of mobile marketing and mobile search engine optimization firm Pure Oxygen Labs. Mike Lowndes, research director for digital commerce at research firm Gartner Inc., agrees, because the ads that Google will show are outside of the retailer’s control. Retailers will likely look beyond Google for search software geared toward retail product searches, he says.

Retailers also can choose an open-source frameworks and software-as-a-service commerce search engines with low-impact integrations, such as a tool with no software to manage, Lowndes says. He speculates that Google may create an ads-free Custom Search Engine product for which it might charge a fee. Google has the capability to remove the ads; nonprofit organizations can apply to have ads remove ads from the Custom Search Engine tool, Google says.