New Google search feature raises news site eyebrows

The New York Times reports on a new search feature from Google that is causing concern among some publishers. Google unveiled an easier search-within-a-site feature, which allows a user to circumvent a news site’s built-in search.

From the Times story:

The results of the search are almost all individual company pages. Google tops those results with a link to the home page of the Web site in question, adds another search box, and offers users the chance to let Google search for certain things within that site.

The problem, for some in the industry, is that when someone enters a term into that secondary search box, Google will display ads for competing sites, thereby profiting from ads it sells against the brand. The feature also keeps users searching on Google pages and not pages of the destination Web site.

Could this cause a drop in page views from users searching on Google rather than on your news site? On the flipside, will it ultimately drive more traffic by letting users find your site’s content easier? And what about the ad revenue Google will pull in from this?

Friends, keep an eye on your internal site search numbers as this develops.

[Hat tip to Roger Simmons]

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's and Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

6 thoughts on “New Google search feature raises news site eyebrows”

  1. You’ve been able to append “” to the end of a search on Google for many, many years. This makes searching sites with terrible internal search engines (i.e. sadly a vast majority of sites, see:, etc.) convenient for people who want to find something specific. Competition in the search field is a good thing and hopefully added pressure from Google will cause third parties to double down on the efforts. This is a good thing.

  2. Two things: this search feature has always been available, Google just now making it easier to access. Also, if news sites weren’t so difficult to navigate, often obfuscating users/readers, then this likely wouldn’t be a problem. However, this method displays the information in a familiar format, considering the ubiquity of Google and people’s comfort level with it. And, if this drives away from ad clicks/sales, then perhaps advertising methods need to be wholly rethought.

  3. Phil, Bill, thanks for the great comments. Certainly if there’s one thing news sites can do way better, it’s helping users find stuff on their own sites.

    I think this all circles back to a larger question: How open should news sites make their content to third parties? On one hand, openness means more users will view the site’s content, which makes it a more essential part of readers’ days. On the other hand, letting folks use (or search through) content using their own tools (Google, other apps) can mean less eyes on advertising, which translates to lost revenue.

    Hopefully, we can strike a balance that gives readers maximum flexibility to appreciate our sites while not shooting ourselves in the foot.

Comments are closed.