March 5th, 2008 | 3 MIN READ

Search Within A Search - Good Idea?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

In case you missed it on TechCrunch the other day, Google is now showing search boxes within SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for some of the larger online retailers like Amazon, Zappos and Office Max.

Zappos Search Box

The boxes only appear for certain keywords, for example "amazon" and "shop amazon" but not "amazon books." Zappos shows up for "zappos shoes" but not "zappos shopping." For other sites, adding "shop" or "shopping" to the site name won't trigger a search box at all.

OfficeMax should be pleased that this works for them but not for Staples and Office Depot, at least it makes them seem a bit more important? I noticed that Target and Walmart get a search box, but not Sears. NewEgg, Radio Shack and BestBuy get one, but not Circuit City. Ebay and Overstock also are left out, which is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Even comparison engines are either in or out. Bizrate, Nextag and PriceGrabber are in, and are out. Perhaps this is a feature that Google is still rolling out in stages, or it's just being tested. You never know if a new feature would fly unless you give it a trial run!

When you use these boxes, the results leave something to be desired. Results are not helpful without product images. And the top results are only going to lead you to the destination site's search page for your keyword, anyway.

Zappos Results

This could be useful if your shipping and customer service information is impossible to find with your internal site search. But top online retailers like these should already have that optimized. TechCrunch ran a reader poll and the results are close to 50/50 on whether users like the idea or not. I'm in the "nay" camp, I don't see the value.

If these boxes were included with larger retail site listings in Google for general terms like "clock radio" or "wireless headphones" - it could give bigger retailers a click-through advantage. Anything that makes a search result stand out (like sub-category links or a Google Checkout badge in AdWords) attracts the eye and may be perceived as a more trusted result. I hope it doesn't end up this way, unless it's a completely level playing field - retailers large and small. But again, I don't any value in doing so.


You'll notice the search box in the screenshot above has " {keyword} site: " in the search box. "Site-colon" is an advanced "search operator" that you can use to check which pages of your site are indexed by a search engine. If you want to check if a particular page is indexed, you can copy and paste that url after the "site:"

Running a site-colon check on your root domain will show all your indexed pages. If your product pages are not showing up, it's a sign the engine is not crawling your site as deep as you want it to and you should look into your site structure or other SEO activities to ensure there are no barriers to indexing.

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