Custom Search is a great way to build a search engine that searches only the sites you want. This is useful if you find you’re trawling those sites—blogs, government sites, news sites, etc—on a regular basis and would rather search them all in one go.
Setting it up is pretty easy.
Go to Google’s Custom Search Engine page.
Click on the blue button:
Enter a name, and a brief description:
Enter some keywords relevant to your beat and the language you’re working in:
Select the first option in the next list (Only sites I select) – unless you want to include the web in your search, with the sites you select in the next window given priority:
Start typing in (or pasting) the names of the websites you want to include. Include http:// s ; it won’t work without.
Select the free edition and click the terms of service. And then click Next:
Try a few test queries to see if you need to tweak. If you do, hit the browser’s back key and tweak:
When you’re happy, click Finish. (You can always add more sites later.)
You’ll then be sent to a page listing your search engine, and any others you choose to add. If you need to tweak, click on the control panel link; the homepage link will take you to the search box of the relevant engine.
Here’s a couple of custom search engines I’ve built as examples:
- Singapore blogs/websites not affiliated with government or companies
- Loose Wire search: a search of all the sites I maintain.
It’s worth bookmarking this page, or even adding it to your iGoogle page if you have one.
- Some websites don’t submit themselves to Google well. For mission critical searches, compare the results of your engine with those of the site’s own search. Sometimes Google does a better job, but sometimes it doesn’t.
- Custom search works best a tool to use alongside RSS feeds. RSS is great for monitoring new stuff; custom search is great for looking up background or hunting other less time-sensitive stuff: names, projects, companies etc