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Always Rank No. 1 in Google: Custom Search

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Last year, Custom Search Engine customers told Google, "Pimp my custom search engine" ride. So Google got busy. Nine months after the Custom Search Engine launch, Custom Search Business Edition was born.

Google Enterprise Search Refreshed

I learned that from Nitin Mangtani, Google's lead product manager of enterprise search, about Custom Search Business Edition (CSBE). Available in 40 different languages, Google CSBE delivers more functionality than last year's CSE.

To set the stage, let's talk briefly about Custom Search Engines. Basically, a Google CSE allows you to build a vertical search engine. Enter a list of Web sites into a control panel, then choose whether you want results from the listed sites only, or from the entire Web with a rankings boost for selected sites.

Google CSBE offers several interesting additional features:

  • Dedicated e-mail support.
  • Phone support for CSBEs with more than 1 million pages.
  • Ability to remove Google branding.
  • Ability to delete Google ads Customized SERP look and feel.

Additional functionality comes with a price tag.

Test Drive Google CSBE

After chatting with Nitin, I took the new CSBE for a test drive. First, sign up for the CSBE program. When you log into your CSE account, a new menu item appears in the Custom Search Engine control panel. Fill out the form. Go to the Code page, grab the CSBE code and put it on your site. You're done with the basic setup.

It's that simple.

Here's a screen shot showing the results of a sample search:

Those simple steps eliminated the Google ads from the Custom Search Engine. Very cool.

Note our firm has the top listing (Strategies for Getting Links). To make your preferred result number one, integrate Google Subscribed Links into your Custom Search Engine with an XML feed from Google that delivers the results. Here's how.

Advanced Customization

If you have basic programming skills, it's easy to customize the look and feel of the SERPs (define) with an XML feed. It's straightforward, although a bit more complicated.

To access the XML feed, capture the search query from the search box and transfer it to a URL, using the following format:

http://www.google.com/search?cx=008573490075625200413:xsoo_ein6v8&client=google-csbe&output=xml_no_dtd&q=query+terms

Substitute the search box query for the "query+terms" part of the URL. The "+" symbol is for replacing spaces in the query when you append it to the URL. If the query is "link building strategies" the URL should look like this:

http://www.google.com/search?cx=008573490075625200413:xsoo_ein6v8&client=google-csbe&output=xml_no_dtd&q=link+building+terms

The URL above is customized to call on the CSBE on the Stone Temple site. When you go to that URL, you'll see a simple XML output of the search results. After you retrieve the results, it's a simple programming task to format the output.

Unlike the standard Custom Search Engine, style sheets can be applied to the results. With a bit more programming, you can further customize the look and feel.

Summary

If you're looking for a site search function with no search engine ads, CSBE is a great way to go. With a basic level of programming effort, you can get those search results and substantially customize the look and feel of the results.

Implementing a Custom Search Engine or a CSBE won't change your organic search engine rankings. It will give you the flexibility to make your listing the top result on every SERP when visitors conduct a search -- even if you include other sites.

The real benefit: superior results from your own vertical search.


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