When Google added the new search box in sitelinks within the Google search results, there were certainly many questions about the new feature. Was it guaranteed to display if a webmaster sets it up? Would it only display for certain queries that would lead Google to believe that additional site: search would be warranted? Or was it something that would only show up for the top brands or companies?
Pierre Far, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst jumped on Google+ to clarify some misconceptions and questions that webmasters were asking.
I’ve seen a few questions around the new sitelinks search box we announced last week, and all these questions made me misread (and want to clarify) a point I saw on the The Next Web coverage. The question is: would adding the schema.org markup guarantee a site getting the search box?
The answer is no. It’s a bit more nuanced (and clever) than that.
Taking a step back, many webmasters consider adding a search feature to their sites as they grow. Different sites would need the site-specific search at different times for different considerations and there isn’t a hard point that immediately decides yes/no. We try to reflect that nuance in our algos and that’s why we’ve designed them to look at many signals about relating to both the site and the specific query the site is being shown for while deciding whether to show the search box.
This means you should add the markup if you have a site-specific search so that when the algos find enough support to show it, the search points to your site’s search feature.
Bonus question on my previous G+ thread: Will adding a tracking parameter to URL pattern upset this at all?
Answer: not at all! But, as you’re adding more complexity to your URL pattern, double and triple check it works correctly.
Barry Schwartz also asked whether you needed the schema to get the sitelink search box.
+Pierre Far I also assume you don’t need the schema to get the sitelink searchbox either – just to have it redirect to your own site (if Google gives you the box). Right?
Far confirms there are two deciding factors that go into the sitelinks search box.
That’s right +Barry Schwartz. Roughly, you can think of it as two parts:
1. Whether our algos think a search box is needed
2. If so, where to point the search
If you don’t want Google to send the search queries to your site, you can simply skip adding the markup and users will be directed to Google site: queries.
Unless there is a specific reason where you might not want to show site search, it is probably something most webmasters want to set up, even if Google chooses not to display it for your site at this time.
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