Friday, March 07, 2008

Search within search - Google's big move on 2008

In typical Google fashion - i.e. no fanfare apart from a blog post - a new piece of functionality is now up and running on the main Google search pages.

Users will now be able to see the search box for a host website included in results for some brand names.

Here's an example:


A user can then type in "Paris" into the second search box and obtain results only from Hilton.co.uk, as seen below:


E-Consultancy points out an interesting issue to all this. Some sites might not be too happy about this as they rely on people using their sites for search as a source of customer behaviour data.

Anyway, we have been trying a few things out and so far have discovered that none of the main UK meta search engines/price comparison sites have the sub-box so far.

In hotels, Hilton, Marriott and Premier Inn do. Sheraton and Travelodge do not.

Airlines: thumbs-up for Ryanair. Not so for EasyJet, BA and Virgin Atlantic.

Big operators/verticals sees Thomas Cook get a box, but not Thomson, Kuoni or Cosmos.

OTAs: Expedia, Opodo, TravelRepublic, Ebookers and STA Travel do not, but Lastminute.com does.

So what's the criteria for whether a box appears or not?

Google says:

Through experimentation, we found that presenting users with a search box as part of the result increases their likelihood of finding the exact page they are looking for.

So over the past few days we have been testing, and today we have fully rolled out, a search box that appears within some of the search results themselves.

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.
One of the interesting things about this is that brand name searches are, by all accounts, still extremely popular despite a supposed surge in online activity by supplier and intermediaries.

Another is will sites be disadvantaged if they CANNOT have their search box included? Not sure...

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

Technorati tags:

3 comments:

Darren Cronian said...

I wonder if Google will introduce a 'meta tag' which will alow companies to exclude the search box from the search results.

Personally, I think it's a great idea. I noticed this week that when you type in 'travel rants' you now get links underneath the main heading.

I've noticed this before for specific brands, but never thought that would happen with a blog or a generic term like this.

Richard Hartigan said...

I think this could cause problems for trademark owners and merchandising managers.
On occasions sponsored links will creep into the search results when using the site: syntax in Google. This is of course how Google make money. This means that despite a trademarked brand name, rival brands can show against a search that originated from a brand term.

This could be considered tantamount to guerrilla marketing. Allowing other organisations to advertise to customers within your space.

Additionally, many sites like to use their internal search to merchandise other products to their customers. This new functionality takes that away from them.

Site owners have the choice about whether or not to include Google custom search or Google mini on their site. This new functionality forces it upon them.

Hopefully in the long run this will be something that site owners will be able to opt in and out of using webmaster tools.

Kermitunz said...

Do you think it's going to extend? To be developed for more and more websites?
Is it only on Google.co.uk? I couldn't get any search results with this new search box with google.com, google.fr....
Thanks