How To Add Google’s Sitelinks Search Box For Your Website: A Beginner’s Guide

Brandon LazovicSeptember 24, 2020

Several years ago, Google introduced the new sitelinks search box feature. This new feature generates a search box underneath a website’s homepage in the SERPs, that allows users to directly use your website’s search engine. 

Read our latest guide to learn more about how to add Google’s sitelinks search box to your website in as little as 30 minutes. 

What Is Google’s Sitelinks Search Box And What You Need To Know

Like I previously mentioned, this box appears in Google’s search results for branded and navigation keywords that users search for. 

The sitelinks search box allows users to refine the searches within an eligible website. It will then send them to a second set of Google search results with a refined list of URLs for that given query. 

The second set of search results often display additional Google ads, which allows the user to potentially navigate away to a competitor website. 

However, by using sitelinks search box schema markup, Google allows websites to send searchers directly into their internal search results, rather than the second set of Google results. 

To qualify, Google requires websites to have a high search volume of branded queries - you can see if you’re eligible within Google Webmaster Tools. 

The biggest benefit is your ability to directly control the user experience and drive traffic to your website, rather than suffer from potential bounce rate through sending users to a second set of Google SERPs. 

Requirements For Sitelinks Search Box Results

Before proceeding forward, make sure you check off the following boxes that are required for your site to be eligible for this feature: 

Does My Site Qualify? 

Like I mentioned before, you’ll need to have a website that drives large amounts of branded traffic. 

You’ll also need to check Google Webmaster Tools and see if you’ve received a notification for eligibility. 

Some websites may already generate sitelink search boxes without taking any action - if your website already has a sitelink search box, you can skip ahead to Adding SearchAction Schema to Your Website Schema Markup.

Using Your Own Internal Search Engine

Having your own internal search engine is required for this feature. 

Any internal search engine will work, including the default WordPress search function, but you can also use the free Custom Search engine that Google offers. 

A word of caution though - Google’s internal search engine product includes Google ads, so this may not be ideal to use for your website compared to other alternatives. Here’s a list of free and paid plugins for WordPress: 

  • 1. ACF: Better Search
  • 2. Advanced Woo Search
  • 3. Ajax Search Lite
  • 4. Ivory Search
  • 5. Better Search
  • 6. Swiftype Site Search
  • 7. Relevanssi
  • 8. SearchWP
  • 9. Reactive Search Pro
  • 10. Ajax Search Pro
  • 11. Yoast SEO

Adding SearchAction Schema To Website Schema Markup

The next step is to add SearchAction schema to the homepage of your website (replacing the example fields with your own website information):

Once you’ve added the markup to the header of your homepage, make sure that there are no errors or warnings appearing in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. 

Checking Sitelinks Searchbox Results in Google Search Console

Now that you’ve added the schema to your website, you should receive a Sitelinks Search Box report in Google Search Console. This report will also outline any errors or warnings associated with the search box feature, once it begins to populate for your website. 

Verify Search Engine Implementation

You can verify that your internal search engine is functioning properly by replacing {search_term_string} with a test query, and browsing that URL in your web browser. 

For example, if you wanted to search for schema content, you would browse https://www.example.com/search/?q=schema

Specifying A Canonical Tag

You’ll want to set a rel=”canonical” tag element on all variants of your homepage to help Google ensure the correct URL is being used for your markup. 

Opting Out Of Sitelinks Search Box

Google Search can choose to add a sitelinks search box for your website, even if you haven’t opted in to generate one. If you don’t want the sitelinks search box feature enabled, add the following meta tag to your homepage: 

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

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