According to the Financial Times, Google will announce a customizable search engine that users can carry on their own blogs and on other websites.
“Users of Google Custom Search Engine will be able to select the websites they want to be included in their searches, and add to this list in future by “tagging” websites they visit. Any searches will then return results just from that slice of the Google search index.
Let me help simplify this: As a web publisher, you’ll be able to have a Google search box that only returns results from the websites you choose. In other words, you get to play editor on the Google searches people launch from your site. If done ethically (I fear explaining the obvious pitfalls will only inspire the types who feel it ethical to take money for blogging about products without disclosing the payment) and with good judgement on your part, it can be a wonderful service you provide for your readers.
I know because I’ve been doing it for over a year. The search function of SmallBusiness.com is exactly the type of application that Google is anticipating. Since Google didn’t offer a customizable search product a year or so ago when I was wanting to add such a feature to SmallBusiness.com, I resorted to purchasing a Google mini and (with help the Hammock hackery team) created my own search engine that indexes a tightly focused group of websites I select to be indexed (oops — I just gave away the secret algorithm of our search strategy: my dictatorship). The search results page carries Google Adsense ads and the revenues from those quickly paid for the mini. I had been considering bumping up to a higher-capacity Google mini, but, well, tomorrow’s announcement will cause me to reconsider that investment as they are basically offering me a free alternative to the hack I paid them a couple thousand dollars for. (For the record, I’m glad I invested in the Google mini when I did as we’ve garnered a vast amount of insight from analyzing the search patterns of our users — something we’ll probably not be able to do if we outsource narrow search to Google. Also, we’ve hacked our own search results page that I’ve grown to like — that likely will have to change if we participate in the new program.
I assume the incentive to web publishers (and blogger) will be similar to the arrangement offered those who receive the current Adsense commissions for searches launched on the publisher’s website. For a lot of small publishers and bloggers — especially those who are already participating in the Adsense program, adding a narrow search option is a no-brainer.
While I’m hopeful that the narrow-search companies that have sprung up to serve niche business-to-business markets will be able to prosper by offering unique and sophisticated features and benefits to high-end clients, I anticipate this move by Google will dramatically change the landscape of this niche by broadening the number of publishers who can participate in it. I think it’s a great move by the Google juggernaut.
Related: Matthew Ingram wonders what this means for services like Rollyo. I’m a fan of Rollyo (here’s my Magazine Resources Rollyo search engine, for instance). There’s a social networking aspect of Rollyo that probably won’t be a part of the Google product, however the Google product will likely offer publishers, including bloggers, an instant way to monetize narrow search in the Adsense program they’re already participating in.
*President Bush says he uses “The Google”.