July 11, 2012, 4:01 PM

A Google site search tool moves out of mom’s basement

Retailers using AdWords can now use ‘Search as you Type’ for free, mostly.

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Google Inc. today made its “Search as You Type” site search tool available for free to U.S.-based retailers who use its AdWords paid search program, in what the search engine calls a pilot. Licensing fees would kick in after 25 million annual searches.

Search as you Type functions like Google Instant Search does for general searches via Google.com—consumers begin to see search results as they type their queries on retailer sites.

The Search as You Type feature is part of Google’s Commerce Search package, a site search tool for retailers whose pricing starts at $25,000 per year; the feature was introduced more than a year ago as part of a Commerce Search update. The new program makes Search as You Type a feature that retailers can use without taking part in Commerce Search, as long as they are enrolled in AdWords.

 “Search As You Type uses Google’s predictive suggestions and instant product results to enhance a merchant’s existing website search functionality,” says Jennifer Dulski, product management director, Google Shopping. “When shoppers type a search query into a merchant’s site, Search As You Type shows them product suggestions and photos, making it faster and easier for people to spot the product they’re looking for and click through to make a purchase.”

Google hosts the site search tool on its own servers. Google did not provide details about the fees it would charge after the threshold of 25 million searches.

Twenty retailers in the the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and 14 in the Second 500 Guide list Google as their site search provider.

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