Rich Stroffolino

Where Did CNET's Search Go?

CNET was one of the foundational sites for me in my early interneting. It had high-volume and high-quality articles across the tech landscape. It was early to web video (even when my dial-up did not allow me to enjoy it without an hour long buffering session) and podcasts. I learned how to build a PC from one of their videos and solved a lot of tech support challenges.

But in the 2010s it largely fell out of my browsing habits. The home page, once a place of discovery, was bloated with pop-up videos. I’d read a few articles of note in my RSS feed but much more frequently looked at other options. The Verge, among many other sites, once derided for using “bloggers,” now turning out top tier journalism in CNET’s nadir.

The struggles of CNET under CBS Interactive ownership aren’t anything new. Essentially I like the work from a lot of their staff, but it became packaged in an increasingly unpalatable site. But one thing CNET offered that no other site could touch is their long track record of coverage. Internet Archive has captures of the site back to 1996. That’s an incredible resource and a proud legacy.

However that is getting increasingly difficult to access. I recently tried to look up past winners of “Best of CES” awards. These used to be handled by CNET, before being handed to Engadget in the early-2010s. This came after the site took back an award from Dish because CBS was suing it.. But there doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive list of winners by year, either from CNET, Engadget or the CTA.

So I decided to put that list together, just for my own edification. Engadget doesn’t have a great search, but it’s usable enough. However I noticed on CNET that there is no search box anymore. It’s not at the top of the page or in the footer. It doesn’t appear on the site map. goes to a 404 page. When did this happen?


I assumed the loss of search must have happened when the site launched a big redesign in 2022. Or maybe when Red Ventures bought the company in 2020. Oddly, the death of search at the company followed neither of those milestones, at least directly.

After some digging on the Wayback Machine, I found that the search icon disappeared from the top of CNET’s homepage way back on May 24, 2019. This didn’t actually kill search, just made it invisible from the front page, the search page was still online and seemingly functional. The actual loss of search functionality came much later, under Red Venture’s ownership. The search page started returning 404 pages as of November 15, 2022. The Wayback Machine only indexed the page twice since then, with the same result.

It’s not too surprising CNET turned off search. It’s the same site that also planned to delete archives to improve it’s SEO. While it might be easy to get nostalgic in CNET’s place in tech media history, clearly that’s not a priority for its current ownership.

Maybe there still is search at CNET, but it is completely obscured to someone actively looking for it. I even tried creating an account on the site, which seemingly doesn’t do anything. I didn’t even get an account confirmation email. But it didn’t reveal search to me. If I missed it, please let me know.

Interestingly, CNET France, CNET Japan, and CNET Korea all feature search on the top of their homepages. CNET Germany redirects to ZDNet.