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Google’s buy button will turn search results into a virtual storefront

Google has confirmed that it will soon add a buy button to some of its search results.

The world’s largest search engine, which controls up to 98 per cent of the online search market in Australia and New Zealand, said the rollout was “imminent”.

Google wants to make it possible for people to make purchases directly from search. It is understood that the buy button won’t send people through to the checkout pages of relevant third party sites. Instead, you’ll be able to complete your purchase without leaving Google.

Speaking at the Code Conference in California this week, Google executive Omid Kordestani said: “There’s going to be a buy button. It’s going to be imminent.”

Google answering more of your questions

Allowing users to make purchases directly from the results of a search is part of Google’s wider effort to do more than just present people with links to the most relevant third party websites.

Google’s Knowledge Graph is creeping into more and more searches, with Google seeking to answer your questions itself – whether that’s converting pounds to kilograms or finding out how old George Clooney is – rather than sending you off around the web.

READ: 6 questions to ask if your content isn’t converting

If Google can control more stages in the customer journey it can increase the time people spend on its properties and therefore learn more about you, sell more ads and find whole new revenue streams.

But as Google answers more questions itself it means fewer clicks for the websites that would have hoped to provide people with those same answers after being returned at the top of the search results page.

Comparison websites, for example, would previously have enjoyed a harmonious relationship with Google. Traffic from search would have been the lifeblood of these sites that rely on referrals for their revenue. Now Google Compare is threatening to cut comparison sites out of the equation entirely.

With the buy button, third party websites might lose a bit of control, but they will at least still make a sale. It could also increase conversion for some sites by making a purchase easier, particularly on mobile devices.

Fighting off competition from Facebook and Amazon

For Google, the buy button catches it up with Twitter and Facebook, which already have their own versions for similar reasons: they want to stop leaking traffic.

Google will also hope that its buy button encourages more people who are ready to make a purchase to search for the product they want on Google, rather than searching the vast inventory of an e-commerce site like Amazon with its super-simple one-click purchase feature.

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