You may have noticed a slightly new look for certain search results. That’s because Google announced a new way for users to perform a site search on a website within the search results with the sitelinks search box.
This new functionality places the search box in a more prominent position and helps remove a step in the search process for users who are looking for content on a site.
From the announcement:
When users search for a company by name — for example, [Megadodo Publications] or [Dunder Mifflin] — they may actually be looking for something specific on that website. In the past, when our algorithms recognized this, they’d display a larger set of sitelinks and an additional search box below that search result, which let users do site: searches over the site straight from the results, for example [site:example.com hitchhiker guides].
The functionality supports autocomplete, too, and Google says using the right markup will send the user “directly to your website’s own search pages”:
If you implement the markup on your site, users will have the ability to jump directly from the sitelinks search box to your site’s search results page. If we don’t find any markup, we’ll show them a Google search results page for the corresponding site: query, as we’ve done until now.
To implement, sites must have a working search engine function. Then, webmasters can use Schema.org markup on the home page. Google says to use the “website” entity markup with the “potential action” property of the “search action” markup.
Best practices for markup, Google says, are as follows (from the implementation guidelines):
- Put the markup on the homepage of your site. It is not necessary for the markup to be repeated on other pages of your site.
- We recommend JSON-LD. Alternatively, you can use microdata.
- Specify only one URL search pattern for the target. We are experimenting with multiple pattern support, so if you have feedback or use cases for multiple target support, let us know in our Webmaster Central Help Forum.
And some tips from Google on site-wide configurations:
- Set a preferred canonical URL for your domain’s homepage using the rel=”canonical” link element on all variants of the homepage. This helps Google Search choose the correct URL for your markup.
- Prevent crawling of your site’s search results pages with robots.txt. See more in our Webmaster Guidelines.
- Make sure that your server supports UTF-8 character encoding.
Google says to head over the the Webmaster Help Forum with questions.
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