What is a Custom Search Engine?

custom-search-engine-1024x356 What is a Custom Search Engine?

Custom search engines are commonly used by web developers to allow visitors to search within their website. They are especially useful when the site is large, and there is a need to find information quickly without having to access the navigation system.

Developers can build their own search engine; use the built-in search technology in content management systems (CMS), or use core search technologies from established search providers like Google.

Google’s custom search engine is by far the most popular because it allows search results to be prioritized or restricted based on customized settings specified from a control panel. Several intrinsic features manage how the custom search engine responds from within the particular intranet while the control panel provides the freedom to modify settings to fine tune the search results as per the user’s request.

Google Custom Search allows companies to include a search engine on their website to allow visitors to find the information they are seeking. It ensures that the users are receiving a high-quality, relevant result based on Google’s core search technology.

Some of the search engine elements that are customizable:

  1. The search box and results page will have the theme and styling of the website.
  2. Usage of search features such as refinements, autocomplete and promotions to enhance the users’ search experience.
  3. The search engine is linked with Google Analytics to understand the users’ behavior better.
  4. With Google Ad Sense, revenue is earned from the search engine.

Is custom search different than Google web search?

While there is an option to set the custom search engine to search the entire web, like a regular search on ‘www.google.com, there are some differences which are as below:

  1. Custom search emphasizes your results over others on the web.
  2. It does not offer features such as personalized results that Google Web Search features.
  3. There can be a subset of results from the Google index if more than ten sites are included.

How to add Google custom search engine to a website?

The first necessity is a Google Account to sign in or create a new account if there isn’t one already. Upon creating an account or logging in, access the Google Custom Search Management home page and follow the below quick steps to configure a custom search:

  1. From the Google Custom Search home page the option “New Search Engine” should be clicked.
  2. The search engine should be described by adding a name, short description and then selecting the language preference. These settings can change if needed at the ‘My Search Engine’ page.
  3. Next is to add the sites needed in the custom search and this requires the search engine to be defined. Any site URL, self, individual page URL’s or entire site URL’s work fine and additional URL formatting can be specific wildcard patterns that include results for certain parts of the site. For example: www.website/*subdirectoryName*
  4. There are different editions available, free (with ads on the search results page) and paid editions with optional ads on results pages. With both, there is an option to use Google Ad Sense to monetize from the result pages with configured settings with the Ad sense for Search Program. To do this, you will need to agree to the terms of services by checking the box and clicking the ‘Next’ button.
  5. The style should be selected, and the search engine section tested. If you are not happy with the results, you can revert to the previous page and edit the site accordingly.
  6. For the code to implement Custom Search on the website, the ‘Next’ button needs checked. Copy and paste the code to the website where the ‘Custom Search Engine’ should appear.

How does a custom search engine affect the performance of a website?

Custom Search Engine builders can influence web search results. Labels in Google Custom Search change the classification of web pages by Google and help define query refinements that appear above the web search results.

Custom search not only allows customization of a search engine by deciding which sites to include in search results. Also, it provides a way to customize how search results are presented. This allows alteration in the manner in which pages are ranked, enabling emphasis on some pages over others. Unique information at the top of the search results can offer aspects such as query refinements above page result listings. Once a custom search has been set up, these changes can be made using a control panel or XML files can be created to define how the custom search engine works.

Google Custom Search Engine, allows the addition of one or more entire websites, pages or parts of websites along with sources for the search engine. The pages shown in search results are based on the ranking algorithm that Google uses in its web search.

While a relatively simple custom search engine can be set up, you can also add keywords to the search engine that might boost individual pages on results if it contains the query terms or keywords that you select. Google’s custom search provides ways to change how the search results appear. For example, it allows people to set up context files that describe the structure of custom search engines and define how they behave. Subscribed links can also be used to set up snippets for specific queries that are defined either through a control panel or context file.

Promotions created for specific queries might move up a specified page in search results. This is useful in making announcements, promoting products, services, events and discovering content. Custom Search also can create query refinements for search results that appear above those results by creating refinement labels for sites. If someone performs a relatively broad search, labels associated with sites in the search results may appear above the results, and that can help searchers drill down to pages about specific topics. For example, if someone searches for ‘diabetes,’ query refinement would show search results of sites labeled with terms such as ‘Treatment’, “Symptoms”, “Diagnosis”, “Causes”. of diabetes. Those refinements would match the labels used.

When you hear the term ‘Search Engine’, one automatically thinks of ‘Google’, ‘MSN Search’ or a ‘Yahoo Search’. However, as seen above, these are not the most common. There are millions of private custom search engines with the overriding purpose of relevancy. It fulfills a need perfectly for someone searching for specific information and helps negate or eradicates irrelevancy. Relevancy is crucial for search engines to be in the game, charge advertisers, prevent traffic from moving to competition and conduct a healthy business. To understand how custom search engines can help in your website or business, contact professionals at Flying Cow for further guidance.

fb50c5bf790872a8ecad33a6bd15d358?s=100&d=mm&r=g What is a Custom Search Engine?

CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area

October 15th, 2016

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