Google Launches Custom Search Service

Google on Monday launched a new service that lets users customize its search engine.

The Google Custom Search Engine is aimed at bringing tailored search to Web sites and blogs. The new tool allows users to use the Google search platform to create a search engine focused on any content they like, from movies to sports to personal hobbies — or anything else in the Google search sphere.

“We want to make it easy for anyone to create a search engine about all of their favorite topics, without needing a Ph.D.,” said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience.

Ultimate Control

Unlike traditional search that depends on site popularity and credibility to achieve page ranking, Google Custom Search Engines empower users to choose which pages they want to include in their index, how the content should be prioritized, whether others can contribute to their index and what the search results page will look like.

The idea extends the power of Google search beyond Google.com to allow these personalized search engines to bring up more targeted results. This means users on a fishing site who type in “bass,” for instance, won’t get a list of expensive musical instruments.

Several large sites are already on board with the new tool. Intuit’s JumpUp.com and RealClimate.org are among the first to test Google Custom Search Engine. RealClimate.org, a site that offers expert opinion on the science of climate change, has created a searchable subset of the Web to provide reliable scientific information to its visitors. At a more personal level, bloggers or Web page owners can create search engines pointing their friends to sites about their favorite pop stars.

Here’s how a Custom Search Engine works: Organizations or individuals can go to www.google.com/coop/cse and select the Web sites or pages they’d like to include in their search index.

Users can choose to restrict their search results to include only those pages and sites, or they can give those pages and sites higher priority and ranking within the larger Google index for their site. Users can then customize the look, feel and functionality of their search engine.

Cashing In

Of course, Google is finding a way to generate revenue with its latest offering. Custom Search Engines are monetized through the Google AdSense program.

Jason Dowdell, who operates MarketingShift, the blog focused on media research and technology, has been watching Google’s moves closely in recent weeks. He was among the first to point out rival MSN’s new search feature that beat Google to the market — the ability to pull multiple stock quotes with a single search and see a neatly organized graph. He did not see Google’s Customized Search Engine coming, but now that it’s here, he does sees it as a way for the rich to get even richer — the rich in this case being Google.

“If you’re Google, how do you generate a billion more page views a day as inventory for your biggest advertising revenue stream? That’s easy, you launch a customizable search engine for user Web sites and start displaying your ads on it,” Dowdell told TechNewsWorld.

Google plans to expand the offering internationally in the coming weeks. Universities, non-profits and government organizations can choose not to run ads on their search results if they’d rather not.

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