I have been travelling so it took me a little while to write about Google Custom Search Business Edition. The name is a mouthful (sounds like the name of one of IBM’s products) but the price won’t give you indigestion—just $100 annually for up to 5,000 pages. So what should a Web site owner think about this offering?
Before I give you my opinion, remember that I work for a competing product, IBM’s OmniFind search engine. So take my views with a pillar of salt. But here goes, anyway.
For small sites with limited technical skills, it seems worthwhile. You can set up the colors of the interface to match your Web site with no programming experience, and you just need to know enough to drop a snippet of code in the right place on your Web page. There’s no server to set up, so even sites with shared hosting can play. There are also free choices, such as Rollyo, that do a good job, but with less control over the appearance.
If you have some technical skills, however, there may be better choices. Even those folks saddled with shared servers can use a free Yahoo! API to give themselves a hosted site search. It’s worth remembering the drawbacks of a hosted search service, however. You can’t ensure that all of your pages will be spidered and you can’t ensure they will be spidered quickly as they change.
If you follow the tips in our book and in the Skinflint’s Guide to Search Marketing, you can ensure that most, if not all of your pages are spidered into that search index. And you can use Sitemaps to give yourself some control over how frequently the spider visits. It’s not the same as having your own search engine, though. If you want more control, you probably need to go a step further.
If you have dedicated hosting or own your own server, you can consider IBM’s OmniFind Yahoo! Edition, a free search engine (plug, plug). You must be savvy enough to be able to administer a server, but if you can, you get a free search engine that you have total control over. And it tops out at 500,000 pages, not 5,000 (or $500 a year for up to 50,000 pages from Google).
Google’s new offering seems valuable for those with small sites and no technical skills. Site search keeps getting easier and cheaper for site owners—what’s your site search like?