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October 24, 2006

Search with Google your way

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Obviously today’s top story (arguably today’s only story) was the news that Google has launched its Google Custom Search Engine built off Co-op technology (don’t worry, this launch is much easier to understand) where users and publishers can create their own vertical search engine.

With Google CSE, users and publishers can name their engine, add keywords for it to focus on, describe the search content, and then input URLs (reportedly up to 500,000!) for the engine to either pull from exclusively, or just ‘emphasize’.

Once initial preferences are set, users can head back into the options panel and make additional refinements. For example, publishers can add company logos, change text and page colors to make their site, or connect it with their AdSense account to earn money for clicks. Publishers can also add collaborators to help them refine the engine and contribute to the index.

Obviously this idea of a do-it-yourself engine isn’t a new one. Yahoo!, Rollyo and Eurekster all offer similar services, but the advanced features Google has added (allowing collaborators, bundling it with Google AdSense, etc.) gives it a much higher rate of success. Greg Sterling very accurately referred to it as “industrial-strength Rollyo, with a twist of Swicki”. Hee!

The release has already been covered to death so I won’t bore you with the details you’ve already read, but here’s what struck me.

  • Battle of the site search: Forget fighting over toolbar space (Google already won that anyway), with reports that 200 million site searches are performed every day, that’s where I want to be. And that’s exactly where Google is positioning itself. Smart. Very smart.
  • More advertising: You have to hand it to Google; they know how to make those advertising dollars. With CSE, Google gives its publishers yet another targeted area for advertising. This must be that ‘competition for ad space’ thing Yahoo! was talking about…
  • Directory killer: You have to think that if DIY engines take off it will be the human-edited directories that feel the true force. Why use DMOZ when you have a value-added service with Google CSE?
  • SEO-approved: Create an industry-only database and use the smaller dataset to collect insight on what site ranks higher than another. The results may be interesting. Smart, right?
  • One multi-purpose engine:: The problem I’ve always had with do-it-yourself engines is that they restricted your search to only the URLs you entered. Google CSE doesn’t do that (unless you want it to). It gives you the option to only apply a ‘boost’ to the URLs you entered, while still searching the entire Web. This means I can create a search engine for all my favorite search blogs, and search it without fear I’m missing something else. One search engine for all my blogging and searching needs. It’s like sweet relief.

If you like the idea of a DIY engine but don’t want to do the work yourself, might I direct you to the Custom Search Guide? They have 30 or so pre-made engines that may be of interest, particularly the SEO-inspired one. Enjoy.

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