Google has been drawing a lot of flak lately for the degradation in the quality of its search results. A lot of times the sites that end up on the first page of Google are nowhere relevant to your search query. That being said, Google still remains the best way to search online. However, if you are someone whose searches are usually limited to one or a few niches, and you do not seem to locate meaningful information through the regular Google search and instead end up visiting your favorite sites directly, then you could consider creating your own custom search engine using Google CSE.
This helps you create a search engine that only contains your preferred set of trusted websites and hence you get clean and reliable results every time you search for something. The service is free to use without any limitation of any kind and comes with advantages such as:
- CSE allows to add specific domain names, hence add your favorite sites there and limit search around “quality” sites only.
- Remove spam and “personal search suggestions” easily.
- Add your friends to contribute and use the custom search engine. Here, “contribute” means that the invited users can add more domain names to the search engine.
Here on Guiding Tech if you search anything using the search box on the top right of the page, you will see all the results that are specifically from Guiding Tech and that’s because we are using CSE limited to just one domain name here.
Steps to Create Custom Search Engine Using CSE
Step 1: To start, first login at Google and open Google Custom Search. On the homepage, click on the blue button that reads Create a Custom Search Engine.
Step 2: You will now see the three-step wizard to guide you with the whole creation process. The first step is all about the search description and the sites you would like to limit the search to. Once you have mentioned the necessary details, agree to the TOS (reading or skipping is totally your decision) and proceed to the next step.
Note: Google offers two editions of custom search, the Standard Edition and the Site Search details of which are as follows.
Standard edition gives you a tailored search experience using Google technology. You can also customize the look of your search engine and integrate into your site using an iframe. You must show ads alongside the search results, unless you are creating your search engine for a nonprofit organization, university, or government agency, in which case you can disable ads. You can make money from these ads with the AdSense For Search program.
Site Search starts at $100 per year and comes with additional options. You get guaranteed support and greater results customization options via an XML API. Ads are not shown next to search results.
Step 3: Actually, the creation of your custom search engine is already completed in the step above. This step is like a playing ground to test if the stuff’s working as expected. Just select the theme you like and test drive your custom search engine. If everything looks perfect, proceed to the next step but if you are not getting the results you expected, you can always go back a step and make changes.
Step 4: Finally, you will get the Custom Search element code which you can paste as HTML on your blog. You can also change the look and feel of the search tool before you integrate it to your page. Those of you who don’t have a blog or a forum, you can access your Custom Search Engine right from Google. You can go to the Google CSE admin page and select the search engine you have created and start searching. You could also bookmark it for referencing later.
You can make more than one CSE and maintain all of them from the admin panel. If you own a website and are an AdSense publisher, you can sign up to make money with Google AdSense.
One caveat to the above process of creating your Google-powered personalized search engine is that you need to know the names of the sites to include. For someone like me who subscribes to a huge number of sites in Google Reader, it wasn’t difficult. But if you want to create a CSE in a niche that you haven’t explored yet then you first need to invest time trying to unearth the best sources of content which you’ll ultimately create a search engine with.
Rest, it is a pretty cool way to efficiently and productively search the World Wide Web (or a small part of it).