The ability to perform an easy and efficient search seems to be the main ingredient and the greatest achievement nowadays and Web 2.0 style sites are all including it. Tailoring search results and harvesting a powerful search engine’s capabilities to extract relevant information and present fast results is a requirement all main search engines respond to.
Of course you’re not keen to see your competition on the results or in the ads displayed on the result pages (that happens if you’re not running a blog, like me, in which case I welcome all pertinent info to show up). You may not want to see any ads at all in the results (that comes for a cost, no matter if you use msn, Yahoo or Google to power your search). Display the ads and you get a free way to monetize the searches initiated from your site. Needless to say that you can restrict the search results to your web site or web presence (suite of web sites) or, you may just favor them in the results … sneaky
Here are a few links to such pages providing easy access to custom (to you) search engines. Just follow their instruction to get what you are looking for and know that you can modify the appearance and fully integrate at a later time, you don’t need to start Google size.
• Live Search Box – http://search.live.com/siteowner (this is Microsoft’s answer, really easy to follow guides, a bit slow for my taste). Nathan Buggia has a blog entry covering the basics, read it here.
• Google Coop – http://www.google.com/coop/cse (this one is Google’s solution, so easy and fast but for business use it costs $. I really like free stuff)
• Yahoo Search Builder – http://builder.search.yahoo.com (Yahoo, good, personalizable search results and powerful search analysis tools. Not as customizable or friendly as the previous two)
• Crafty Search – http://www.gonecountrygraphics.com/craftysearchbox.html (sooo easy, straightforward, unreal, sooo limited results though, I’ve put this here because it’s so easy to integrate though)
• Ixquick Search – http://us.ixquick.com/eng/link_instructions.html (easy to integrare and customize, real results coming back)
• Pico Search – http://www.picosearch.com/ (easy enough, I’m not yet convinced about the accuracy of the results, to be discussed)
Know that all search engines provide the results as XML as well, free or for a fee, so you can go all the way and have the results display in your own page, simply by consuming the XML dataset returned. Now you don’t need to know what XML is unless you’re a developer and you should better start reading up on it now.
Next week we shall talk about stock photos: who’s cheapest, why buy and how to do it or why not start selling too.