Custom Search Engines

By HermatzHermatz (1228153566|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

In today's blog I will discuss Google Custom Search Engines and how they can be used for my term project or other personal use.

Google Custom Search Engines

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I always find it convenient when a website has a search engine embedded on their page. This allows me to specifically search their site for the information I need. It's not surprising that most of these embedded search engines are "powered by Google." What Google Custom Search Engine does is allow you to input the sites you want Google to search, and then retrieves only results from those websites in addition to a search query you define. Here are some examples of custom search engines made through Google.

My Custom Search Engine

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Using this intuition, you would expect me to define my wikidot site as the URL, but considering the limited amount of specific information on my wiki, that would be an ineffective web search. Instead, I inputed different mortgage and real estate-related sites from several realms. I included the real estate section of a popular business site (Market Watch), a message board dedicated to the mortgage crisis (Topix), and a website dedicated to mortgage news (Mortgage News Daily). This diverse range of sources of information will allow a visitor of my web page to search my custom engine to obtain the information they need quickly without searching each of these sites in particular.

Functionality

One of the more interesting aspects of Google CSE is the ability to define some "key words" for the search engine. This allows Google to only find the most relevant information on the sites you defined. The best part about this feature if you find that your Google CSE has become ineffective, you can easily edit the key words to be more or less specific. I feel custom search engines (as with most of the stuff we have learned in this class) are all about trial and error. I have defined my search engine key words and relevant URLs, but until I consistently use the CSE to obtain specific information, it is hard to gauge its accuracy. As this semester progresses, I know I will change the sites I use along with the search engine query.

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Another great feature of Google CSE is the fact you can embed it in a website or blog. Of the other custom search engines (Topicle, Swicki, and Rollyo), only Google CSE allowed me to embed it on my site. Currently, my custom search engine is right on the homepage, conveniently allowing visitors to search for mortgage industry news first (of course the location of the Google CSE is bound to change throughout my project).

Overall

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I love Google custom search engine. Far too often my Google searches have results from sites irrelevant to my query and I may consider making a Google custom search engine for my own personal use or to narrow my desired results. I think this feature will add a necessary tool to my site and allow the person who takes over my job a place to start his research. Moreover, as my site develops and I add more content, I will probably add a custom search engine to search within my site. As I mentioned above, most of the sites I visit have this function and will only make the site more functional.

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