Sitelinks Search Box


A sitelinks search box is a search box that appears in the Google SERPs within a snippet. Users can search for content directly in the search results list on the desired page. The search box is therefore often referred to as “search within the search.” The sitelinks search box is activated with a special markup in the source code. It is part of the rich snippets.

Background[edit]

Google has been trying to make search results more attractive by adding extra information with rich snippets. Webmasters can use markups to ensure that Google crawls the webpage with structured data that is then displayed in the search snippets in the form of rating stars, opening times, prices, or other items.

With the sitelinks search box introduced in September 2014, webmasters can also expand the display of sitelinks in the SERPs. After inserting a markup, it is possible that a Google search bar appears above the Sitelinks. Users can search directly for the desired terms on the destination page. There is no guarantee that Google will display the additional search bar in the sitelinks.

According to continuously updated figures of the SimilarTech website, more than 760,000 websites worldwide (as of July 2016) have now implemented the sitelinks search box markup. [1]

The search within the search[edit]

The Google sitelinks search box is based on the same principle as the traditional web search. In this way, users are shown the appropriate suggestions while typing, which by clicking will direct the user to the appropriate subpage of the desired website. The search box thus takes over the task, which would otherwise be handled with a site search in combination with a corresponding search term.

Example: If you enter “shoes site:amazon.com” in the Google search box, you will get the same result as if you enter the term “shoes” into the search box. The only difference is that when correctly done, the search will get you directly to the target page, rather than to a result list.

The “search within the search” is therefore not a search function, which is used to search for generic terms on the web, but assists users in getting to the target page faster on large websites. The sitelinks search box is usually displayed only if a user enters the brand into the Google search slot.

Implementation[edit]

A prerequisite for using sitelinks search box is that the website in question uses a working search engine for the page-internal search. Google recommends using Google Custom Search, a customizable search for web pages.

The sitelinks search box can be activated for both web pages and mobile apps.

Further steps:

  • Insert markup according to schema.org on the website or the app: A possible markup for inserting can look like this:
<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "Website",
  "url": "https://www.example.com/",
  "potentialAction": {
    "@type": "SearchAction",
    "target": "https://query.example.com/search?q={search_term_string}",
    "query-input": "required name=search_term_string"
  }
}
</script>
  • Google recognizes the markup while crawling your app or web page
  • Checking the function of the search box: The markup is first inserted into a text editor. After this, the curly bracket is removed from the pattern of the search query and the search term is inserted instead. You can also check the markup using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. [2]

Example: The pattern URL for the search is

 https://meinseite.de/search?q= {search_term_string}
Now, a specific term will be used instead of the placeholder in the bracket. This URL is then entered into the URL line of the browser. After clicking Return, the URL should bring you directly to the desired category of the webpage.

Disabling the sitelinks search box[edit]

Webmasters have the option of disabling the display of the search box in the sitelinks. For this purpose, the following line in the <head> section of the web page is added to the meta specifications:

<meta name="google" content="nositelinkssearchbox" />


The Googlebot will recognize this when crawling. However, users should take into account that changes can only become apparent after a few weeks.

Benefits for SEO[edit]

Webpages can usually benefit rich snippets. The enriched search results can increase user interest and thereby increase the CTR in the SERPs. Similar benefits are also to be expected when using the sitelinks search box. However, webmasters must ask themselves whether it is useful for users to use this search and to return to a search results page. Whether Google refers directly to a webpage or to another search results page depends on the implementation and indexing of the respective search pages.

One possible advantage of the sitelinks search box is that the sitelinks of the website become even more comprehensive. For search queries that relate exclusively to the brand, this brand dominates the search results even more, and users are invited to search directly through the Google search on the website. However, there is a possible disadvantage to integrating the sitelinks search box, because Google takes over a large part of the traffic, which is generated by the direct product search on the website. At the same time, it is possible for users to be directed to other websites by displaying AdWords text ads within the search results of the sitelinks search box. There is also a risk that a user might click “related search queries.” In this case, they will be returned to the traditional Google search. After clicking on a result, he can land on a different website. The website using the sitelinks search box is then disadvantaged.

References[edit]

  1. Search Action Schema Entity similartech.com Accessed on 18/07/2008
  2. Structured Data Testing Tool search.google.com Accessed on 18/07/2008

Web Links[edit]