AdSense for search (AFS)

Google Custom Search Ads Policy: Alternative Search Queries

Alternative Search Queries (ASQs) are any means of triggering search results (search engine results page or SERP) other than a user entering a query in a search box. The query text that generates the SERP can be used to request Google Custom Search Ads (CSA) within the guidelines on this page. The following diagram shows two different ASQs ("Suggested Search" and "Category Browse") used to trigger a search page. The search page requests CSA using the Terms of the ASQ, in this case "laser printer".

Alternative Search Queries diagram

These guidelines apply to ASQs, their content, placement, formatting and behavior, as well as to the terms of the ASQs that are included in CSA requests sent to Google.

The following types of ASQs are currently available for publishers enabled for CSA. To use them, you must comply with both the Common ASQ Requirements and the specific requirements for each ASQ.

Common ASQ Requirements

All uses of ASQs on your CSA enabled sites or apps are subject to the following conditions:

  • You may not include in the terms of an ASQ any content that violates Google's content policies in the Google AdSense Program policies, applicable laws, or third party rights.
  • Google may from time to time require that particular words or phrases not be used in search queries and/or ad requests generated by ASQs.
  • The terms of the ASQ that are sent in the ad request must be exactly what the user indicated. For example, a user click on the term "flower bouquet" must generate an ad request with "flower bouquet" (not "flowers" or "flower bouquet delivery").
  • You must ensure that the terms of the ASQ included in the ad request are designed primarily to suggest the most relevant search queries and are not designed to generate particular ads (e.g., ads that yield a high cost per click) or otherwise artificially inflate impressions, clicks and/or conversions.
  • Each click on an ASQ must be made by an end user of the site and must resolve to a search results page to be eligible for CSA.

In addition to these common requirements, specific ASQs have their own additional requirements as outlined below.

Popular Search

“Popular Search” is an ASQ generated from the most common text searches entered by users on your sites. When the ASQ is clicked by an end user, it will resolve to a search results page with CSA.

In addition to the Common ASQ Requirements, use of Popular Search ASQs on your CSA enabled sites or apps is subject to the following conditions:

  • You may derive Popular Search ASQs solely from the most popular search queries submitted by end users on your sites.
  • You must update the list of terms displayed as Popular Search ASQs on your sites at least once per week.
  • You must label Popular Search ASQs, "Popular Searches" (or some similar designation approved by Google).

Suggested Search

"Suggested Search" is an ASQ presented to an end user as the end user enters text into a search box. When affirmatively selected by an end user, the Suggested Search ASQ resolves to a search results page with CSA.

In addition to the Common ASQ Requirements, use of Suggested Search ASQs on your CSA enabled sites or apps is subject to the following conditions:

  • You must ensure that Suggested Search terms are directly relevant to the text being entered by an end user into a search box (e.g., an end user typing "flo" might receive a Suggested Search that includes the term "flowers").
  • You must clearly attribute the Suggested Search ASQ to you or a third party and not to Google. To avoid doubt, you may not use Google Brand Features in conjunction with a Suggested Search ASQ.
  • Your display of Suggested Search ASQ on your CSA enabled sites must be substantially similar to the mockup below unless otherwise approved by Google.

Search Box diagram

Related Search

“Related Search” is an ASQ that consists of automatically generated terms related to an end user's prior search query. When clicked on by an end user, these ASQs resolve to a search results page with CSA.

In addition to the Common ASQ Requirements, use of Related Search ASQs on your CSA enabled sites or apps is subject to the following guidelines.

  • You must label Related Search ASQs, "Related Searches," or some similar designation approved by Google.
  • Related Search ASQs can be placed in the following places on the page:
    • To the right/left hand side of the search results
    • Below the search results
    • Between the top ad unit and search results
  • Related Search ASQs implemented at the top of the search results page, above the top ad unit, must be approved by Google in writing.
  • If Related Search ASQs are interspersed with site search results, there must be at least 3 search results above the Related Search ASQs.
  • You must not intersperse Related Search ASQs with Custom Search Engine results.
  • You may not have more than 2 "related search units" per page.

The terms in a Related Search ASQ can be generated by Google or by you or another source. When Google does not generate the terms in the Related Search ASQs, the following guidelines also apply to your implementation of Related Search ASQs:

  • You must clearly attribute Related Search ASQs to you or a third party and not to Google. To avoid doubt, you may not use Google Brand Features in conjunction with Related Search ASQs.

Category Browse

Category Browse pages are pages a user encounters as they navigate through a menu or directory of options or categories of content. For example, a user on a shopping site might be browsing the books that are available, then refine the search/browsing by clicking on "Nonfiction". On that SERP, the user might click on "New authors" to further refine the search. Each page has a smaller and smaller number of search results as the user's query becomes narrower. In general, the category browsing search experience must consist of original content and demonstrate sufficient depth and breadth to be eligible for CSA.

A “Category Browse” ASQ is a menu or directory that allows the user navigate your site by narrowing their focus.

In addition to the Common ASQ Requirements, use of the Category Browse ASQ on your CSA enabled sites or apps is subject to the following conditions:

  • CSA may only be shown in response to user clicks on the Category Browse ASQ that are sufficiently narrow, as determined by Google. For example, CSA may be triggered in response to an end user click on the term “sweater” but not on the term “clothing”.
  • You may include parent categories of Category Browse ASQ in the ad requests initiated from a Category Browse ASQ (i.e., you may include the directory listings in the breadcrumb trail in such requests).
Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?