If you’re an SEO professional or someone who manages multiple websites that utilize Google site search, we’ve got some bad news for you. Google is shutting down Google site search in April.

But don’t panic– there are plenty of alternatives.

We’ve put together a guide to understanding exactly what Google site search is and which custom search products you should consider once it is gone.

What Is Google Site Search?

Google site search, also known as GSS, is a soon to be defunct paid method offered by Google to deliver specific search results to website visitors without pesky ads.

It essentially brings a similar technology to Google’s own search engine to one’s own site. Over 500,000 sites currently use Google site search.

Google Is Ending The Site Search Service

In what seems to be a recent trend of removing great products, Google announced via email to customers this past spring that Google site search, which first came about in 2008, would be discontinued in April 2017.

The news is a bit of a bummer, to say the least. Google site search delivered incredibly fast search results that greatly improved websites and their usability.

Apparently, users of Google site search will be switched over to Google Custom Search once their allowance runs out.

What Is Google Custom Search?

Google Custom Search is a free alternative to Google site search.

While the two services share a lot of common features, there are some pretty glaring differences as well. The only major benefits to using Google Custom Search is that you have full web-searching capabilities and the service is free.


  • You can still make money with Google AdSense.
  • You have full access to Google’s support forum for tech support.


  • There is no image-only search option in Google Custom Search.
  • You cannot remove ads. At all.
  • Google Custom Search does not offer access to XML API.
  • You can’t remove Google branding from Google Custom Search.
  • You can’t transfer ownership of your Google Custom Search account.
  • You can’t share query quotas with outside business with Google Custom Search.
  • There’s not even email support for Google Custom Search.

If you’re trying to market your business properly with SEO, you’ll now run the risk of competition popping up in your site’s embedded ads.

What’s worse is the query limit. If your website is successfully bringing in a lot of traffic, Google Custom Search will stop working altogether once you hit your query limit’s daily cap.

Alternatives To Google Custom Search

Luckily, the world isn’t coming to a total end. There are several alternatives to Google site search that you can use to boost your site’s SEO.

Get on the Cloud

One option when searching for an alternative to Google Custom Search is too look into Cloud-based search engines.

Google Cloud Search

Google Cloud Search comes with G Suite’s Business and Enterprise versions and is an excellent alternative for internal search. Google Cloud Search can also search through Google account services like Gmail, Calendar, and Docs.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon’s service CloudSearch has much of the same features of Google site search, including location-based results.

Other features include thirty-four languages supported, highlighting, and autocomplete.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has their own cloud solution as well. The Bing feature provides elements like spell check and advanced usability.

While all of these are fine products, they’re all lacking something that was really glamorous about Google site search– easiness.

If you’ve got a big business or you’re a development company, these two cloud-based options may require additional technical aid to set up.

Rely on your server.

Cloud-based search solutions are dependent on other businesses’ networks. Server-side solutions, on the other hand, use your own server to power their search options.

This server can be your website’s own service or management system. WordPress offers a plugin solution in particular called SearchWP that is incredibly simple to implement, whether you’re a newbie in the marketing world or an SEO professional.

While Cloud-based search services are more sturdy, server solutions are a handy way to implement search capabilities to your site without going broke.

However, server search options usually lack modern search amenities like language detection and autocomplete. For this reason, server-based search solutions are a good temporary fix.

Unless your site is fairly new and not yet popular in the area of traffic, server solutions might not be the best.


It comes down to simple needs versus complex needs.

If you’re a fairly big corporation that absolutely needs the best search solutions, opt for cloud-based search services.

If you’re not quite a small business but not a massive conglomerate, the alternatives listed here may be a better solution.

If you’re a small or new website owner, server solutions and plugins could be your best bet without spending money or time.

How was our guide to understanding and working around the end of Google site search? Tell us what you think about the news in the comments below!