Replace BigCommerce Search Functionality

How to Add Google Search to a BigCommerce Store Website

I’ve used BigCommerce for awhile as my ecommerce sales platform. I currently host my medical products store (ProHealthcareProducts.com) on the BigCommerce platform.

While the BigCommerce shopping cart system offers a lot of great functionality and has solid performance, it has its limitations. One of the most obvious of those limitations is the default search feature included with BigCommerce. While there are some things that you can do to tweak the BigCommerce built-in search to make it suit your preferences, there is still no comparison between the inferior search capabilities of BigCommerce search and the mother of all search engines: Google.

Fortunately, you can have the functionality of Google search on your BigCommerce shopping cart system.

Here’s how to set it up.

Editing Your BigCommerce Theme Files

In order to replace your BigCommerce built-in search functionality with Google’s, you’re going to need to edit your BigCommerce theme files. The theme files are the parts of your BigCommerce website that make it unique and set it apart from the look and feel of other BigCommerce-hosted websites


Editing Theme Files

Heads up: Doing work within your theme files can be a bit tricky, especially it you’re not familiar with the BigCommerce system or with html or web programming in general. If you’re not comfortable making these changes, I’d recommend consulting someone with some technical chops to help you out.


You can access your theme files by going in your BigCommerce admin to Storefront -> My Themes, then under the Advanced dropdown, select Edit Theme Files. It’s recommended that you make a backup of your current theme before making a change to these files, or to copy your current theme and use the copy to make changes.

The Simplest Option: Google Programmable Search Engine

If you want something quick and easy, you can use Google’s Programmable Search Engine tool, which allows you to insert a script into your website (replacing the BigCommerce default search functionality) that searches the pages Google has indexed from your website. You can configure the Google Programmable Search Engine tool to search your entire site or specific parts of your site.

The major drawback for using Google Programmable Search on your ecommerce store (this was a deal killer for my BigCommerce store) is that Google displays ads on the search results. That means that it’s possible that someone could come to your BigCommerce website, perform a search, and be referred to a competitor (or some other website that is sponsoring ads related to what someone is searching for on your website) while searching your website.

Because there is no paid version of the Google Programmable Search Engine that allows you to turn off ads, your options are limited for solving this ad problem. One suggested solution for turning off ads that would work for a BigCommerce store owner is to create an AdSense account that is integrated with the account you used to set up your Google Programmable Search Engine and configure the AdSense account to not show ads from competitors.

Using Google’s Custom Search JSON API with BigCommerce

The more robust way to implement Google search into your BigCommerce website is to use Google’s Custom Search API, which is implemented using the popular API protocol JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). While this is not the most complicated of projects for a coder, it does require the involvement of someone who knows how to use JSON. To use the Google Custom Search JSON API with your BigCommerce store, you’ll need to have someone who is familiar with the BigCommerce theme and who can use the API provided by Google to create a custom search engine that can replace your default BigCommerce search engine.

Based upon my experience using BigCommerce, I highly advocate for switching out their limited default search tool for the powerful Google Custom Search.

Bing Custom Search Alternative

If you’re not a fan of Google and would rather use a different search tool that has improved performance of BigCommerce’s default search functionality, you could try out Bing’s Custom Search, which gives you many of the same advantages that Google Custom Search provides.

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