Google to Restrict Unauthorized Access to the Unpublished Autocomplete API on August 10th, 2015
Through its autocomplete feature, Google Search can quickly predict what a user is going to type, while he or she is typing it.
Autocomplete has been a significant part of Google’s search engine for many years, and for years also, a number of developers have integrated autocomplete within their services through an unofficial autocomplete application program interface (API) that had no restrictions on it. However, come August 10th, 2015, Google will be putting an end to that use.
According to a blog post recently published on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the autocomplete API was never intended to be used outside of Google Search. Though access to it wasn’t originally restricted, the API was never made public by Google.
Peter Chiu, from Google’s Autocomplete Team, stated that some “creative engineers” managed to reverse engineer the API and integrate it into their own websites. It’s important to note, though, that this is not the first time an unpublished Google API has been reverse engineered. The company said that the Google Maps API was used this way before, until Google officially introduced it as a formally supported API after seeing “what creative engineers could do combining map data with other data sources.”
Currently, Google supports more than 80 different APIs, but autocomplete isn’t one of them as it is designed to complement Search alone, the company emphasized.
“Over time we’ve realized that while we can conceive of uses for an autocomplete data feed outside of search results that may be valuable, overall the content of our automatic completions are optimized and intended to be used in conjunction with web search results, and outside of the context of a web search don’t provide a meaningful user benefit,” Chiu explains.
As per the company’s announcement, access to the unofficial autocomplete API will be restricted beginning August 10th, 2015. Some users, including those who use keyword tools such as Übersuggest (@ubersuggest), are not happy about Google’s latest maneuver, as these tools use the autocomplete API to come up with keyword ideas.
All’s not lost for publishers and developers though. If they hope to continue their use of autocomplete, they can do so by signing up for Google Custom Search Engine (CSE)—an alternative to the autocomplete API. Google said it allows sites to maintain the autocomplete functionality in connection with Search.
See the video below for more details on Google CSE.
Is it appropriate for Google to block access to the unpublished Autocomplete API? How will this change the game for keyword tools using autocomplete to generate keyword ideas?
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