Back in February, Google announced that Google Site Search (GSS) was to be discontinued and replaced with the free, ad-supported alternative Custom Search Engine (CSE).
Among the various differences listed between the two products was the fact that Google has the right to display ads above the internal search results fed onto a website.
To show the perils of this change, Surefire Search managing partner Glenn Marvin recently ran a quick test search on WorkflowMax (a Xero product), only to be served a series of sponsored ad results, many of which comprised a number of competitors to the Xero-owned product.
"You don’t need to be a genius to see the brand damage and potential risk to client retention this poses for WorkflowMax," says Marvin in a blog post since published on his website.
"If you are using Google Site Search on your website there is a chance you may be missing out on opportunities. Potential clients may click on the ads and be taken to a competitor’s site. Existing clients may be put off by the fact you allow advertising on your site and even show ads from competing companies."
Marvin says the issue on the WorkflowMax site has since been rectified and he urges other business owners to check their sites to ensure that they also aren't feeding traffic to their competitors through the embedded search function.
He says this problem can easily be avoided by either upgrading your Google account to the paid version or by using any of a number of alternative search providers, such as Algolia, Apache Solr, Cludo, Swiftype or Amazon Web Services.
While a small issue that was quickly nipped in the bud, it provides a reminder of how important it is for marketers to stay abreast of the many changes introduced across digital channels on an almost weekly basis.