This is a cautionary tale.
I like using Google products, and integrating them into our business operations. It seems like such a good deal. But the downside of working with products from the search engine behemoth is that occasionally they boot you out of them as they expire products that just “aren’t working” for the company (for whatever reason). When this happens to you on a personal level (like the phasing out of iGoogle), it is inconvenient or frustrating. When it impacts your business, however, it is chilling.
I have previously extolled the virtues of incorporating Google custom search into Websites. I was recently re-testing Google Custom Search (a fine product, and a real value by all accounts) on our site. I did this partly because my partner and I had just sung the virtues of using Google in a meeting. So, just to refresh my memory of how good it was, I searched for a few key terms and looked at what Googe Custom Search served up.
That’s when I saw the ads – for another company’s product. On our site. (Luckily we didn’t attempt to demo search on our site during the meeting.)
We quickly figured out what had happened – obviously our license had recently expired. But Google never contacted us (like many service companies do) to notify us that the license had expired and we needed to renew. They simply substituted the non-paid version of the product which comes (apparently) with Google advertising.
Not a good customer experience from our end. And it would have been very weird user experience for someone searching our site for information to see the ads for an outside company.
We’ve since set an annual reminder about renewing Google Custom Search, but why should we have to? Wouldn’t it be better for Google to remind us about the expiration date? Or is it to their advantage to allow the custom search to expire so ads start popping up on company Websites, like ours? I’ll probably never know…