A Search Engine of Your Own

If you think that adding search to your site means rolling up your sleeves and hacking together a crawler, indexer and database system, think again. A number of companies offer "plug and play" services that provide a powerful search engine for your web site -- and best of all, some are free.

These companies host your search engine on their servers, and allow you to customize the search results page to fit the look and feel of your site. They also provide you with reports allowing you to monitor the things your site users are searching for.

Setting up your own search engine is easy. Simply visit one of the sites noted below and complete the short registration form. Select a few options, customize your results page, and then simply cut and paste the HTML that's generated for you on to your own web pages. It's as simple as that.

Each of the four services offer slightly different options. Most allow you to specify how often your site is indexed, and some provide on-demand indexing at any time. None of the four require you to include any advertising in result pages, but the free services require you to display a logo or some other branding.

All provide reasonably high quality search results, so the companies try to differentiate themselves on other features. Spend some time reading the FAQs on each site, and, if you have the time, set up a free trial with all four services and put them to a head-to-head comparison for your site.

If you've been putting off adding a search engine to your site, there's no better time than the present.


Atomz Express Search offers free search for sites up to 500 pages. The company also offers a Prime Search plan starting at $100 per year for sites up to 50 pages, with more expensive plans for larger sites, and Enterprise search with variable pricing for large-scale sites.

Mondo Search

Unlike the other hosted search services profiled here, Mondo Search only offers free search for a limited trial period. However, Mondo Search offers some unique features such as multi-language support, categorization of results on the fly, and other capabilities that might be useful for some sites.


PicoSearch offers free search for sites up to 1,500 pages, with unlimited searching. Also available are the Professional Plan for $199 per year for up to 3,000 pages, and the Premium Plan for $399 per year for up to 6,000 pages.

Sandy Bay

Sandy Bay offers a suite of what they call e-marketing products, including their "results engine," which is really a search engine. Like Mondo Search, Sandy Bay offers free search for a limited trial period. Pricing begins at $25 per month for 1,000 pages and 1,000 searches, and scales up for larger or more heavily trafficked sites.

More Information:

Search Engine Software For Your Web Site
Search engine software can be used to index the information on your web site or Intranet, making it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. There are plenty of solutions, ranging from simple, free packages to feature-packed, high-end commercial products. Here is a rundown on some of the many offerings from search engine software vendors.

Remote Search Hosting Services
An extensive list of remote hosting search services from site search maven Avi Rappoport.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was About.com's Web Search Guide.