Google is removing support for the related search operator, a special search command where Google can tell you what other websites are related to another site. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, confirmed it is going away, saying “It hasn’t really worked that well for some time, as in some cases, the information was dated.”
What is the related search operator. The related search operator allowed you to type in the Google search box, for example, [related:https://www.google.com/] and Google would return related websites to that URL. Google’s old help documentation said, “Google determines the relatedness of URLs by comparing multiple factors, such as the entities mentioned on the page and the general category of the page.”
It’s going away. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, confirmed it is going away on Twitter, saying, “It hasn’t really worked that well for some time, as in some cases, the information was dated.”
I noticed this morning that Google removed the operator from its help documentation and then asked Google if the related search operator was going away. Google confirmed it is indeed going away, although, it currently seems to return results.
Sullivan also said that it was rarely used anyway.
Alternatives may come back. Danny Sullivan added, “Potentially we might revisit another way to show this type of info in the future.” What that might be or when that might be is unknown.
It does beg the question, Google’s SGE can and does provide an AI snapshot answer to answer that question. So it the related search command needed?
Here is what the related search operator looks like for this site:
Why we care. If you use the related search operator for SEO and search marketing research, you may need to find an alternative solution going forward. Maybe AI search engines like Google SGE, Bard, Bing Chat, ChatGPT or others might be able to help.