Google site search was one of the best and ad-free ways for the businesses to have a search functionality integrated into the website. They could use it to index several relevant websites and show it to users as a search result. So even small companies with limited resources could have customizable search functionality built-in. But in the year 2017 google discontinued this service and offered a new solution called the Custom search engine, CSE. Due to this, many businesses mostly the smaller ones are looking for affordable google site search alternatives for small sites.
Disadvantages of CSE
The custom search engine is more restrictive than Google Site search due to many reasons.
- Forces ads to the results which can be annoying to the users and hit the retention rate.
- The features of CSE are limited especially to those who have already used the earlier version. Though the look and feel can be tweaked it still looks like Google and not in sync with your site.
- If there is new content that one wants to promote then it does not get reflected immediately. Google indexing does not happen as and when you want and there is little control over it.
- A web developer should have knowledge of the API to make specific implementations. A non-developer may have trouble customizing the search.
Alternates for Google Custom Search
If you are looking for more control over the search box and remove ads google custom search then there are many alternatives. Each of these has different features and benefits and based on that the best solution:
Content Management Systems, CMS
There are many e-commerce platforms that have a built-in search option. But it may not suit all your needs so choose them wisely. WordPress is one such CMS where a widget for search is provided. This can be placed on the desired location of the site. Other platforms like HubSpot, Joomla, etc also provide this option but they may not be as robust as the other solutions.
These are the easiest to integrate into the website. The programmers only have to use specific APIs so that they can place the search box at the desired location and appear the way they want. The rest of the work is handled by the SaaS solution which includes indexing, hosting, and maintenance. The businesses also need not think of servers and storage as all that is handled by the provider. Some of the providers are Algolia, SiteSearch 360, Swifttype, etc.
There are many cloud providers who offer site search solutions that can be customized. These are different from SaaS as the services are hosted on the cloud. Major cloud providers offer this service and can be utilized by those companies that already use cloud computing. One example is CloudSearch by Amazon Web Services which has many advanced features. The other is Azure search which is hosted on Microsoft Azure and is based on the Bing search platform.
Open Source Solutions
If you have technical web developers then you can use an open-source solution. They will have to do all the work of developing, deploying, maintaining, upgrading, and bug fixing. The main advantage is that it is free to download and use but the downside is that there is no professional support for fixes. ElasticSearch and Solr are two examples.
While looking for alternatives choose a tool that can be integrated into your site works with all the plugins, platforms, and extensions.