psst: Buckle up for a long-winding intro.
With the web’s expanse being so vast, searching the web is something we do everyday.
Searching with Google or your favorite search engine can only get you so far. You’d have to trust Google to bring up the actually useful search results to the top to answer your questions every time. With so many people bent at gaming these very search engine results, pigs might fly before that happens.
We have overcome this problem by bookmarking the sites we find useful. We may even use an online bookmarking service like delicious.com (yes, they dropped the dots this week!) to store our favorite sites.
Then you could use delicious.com search to find your bookmarked favorites by keyword or tags. I find this an immensely useful strategy and you could see my bookmarks at http://delicious.com/KIntheHouse. I use this often when Google doesn’t seem to bring up the sites/pages I need.
I have interest in special niches like WordPress, Firefox, Linux, etc and over time I have learnt to trust certain sites for each of these categories to turn to for good, reliable and useful information. In fact, i have added some of these sites to my Firefox search box with the now-disappeared-from-mozilla-addons-site extension, OpenSearchFox. (anyone know what happened to it?)
I have these sites in my Google Reader and read up on recent posts. Searching with Google Reader doesn’t take me very far usually. So, when I need to look up I have to either have the sites in my Firefox search bar or look up the site url and do a search.
Today, tawnypress in Twitter asked for a couple of good WordPress resources and I pointed her to couple of sites I frequent, hackwordpress.com & wordpressgarage.com. I knew I had a dozen more sites in my Google Reader but couldn’t share it with her easily.
That’s when something lit up in my head. So, I just headed over to Google Custom Search Engine and created the soon-to-be-world-famous K’s WordPress Search.
And it just took me less than 5 minutes to roll my own search engine with 14 sites highly relevant to WordPress. Here’s how I did it:
- Go to Google Custom Search Engine page
- Click on create a custom search engine button
- Give your search engine a name, description and search engine keywords
- Select to search just your sites or the web with emphasis on your sites, or the entire web.
- Enter the sites you want to search in the box
- Choose standard edition (with ads) for free or the $100/year ad-free search results option. (free for non-profit, government or educational orgs)
In the next page, you can try out your search engine results. You could create as many search engines as you’d like.
You could potentially open this search engine to a group of users you invite or open this upto public to contribute more sites (could end up getting spammed) to your custom search engine. You could also host the search box and the results in your website. Actually an extension of this is available via Google Adsense for publishers.
This lesser known gem of a tool is already available with your existing Gmail account. Roll away your own Google powered search engines!