Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) just announced that they now power AdSense for Search. Another nice new change is that if you provide a Sitemap, Google will use that to improve the coverage of the custom search engine.
Now let me nip one idea in the bud, because I can already feel a few people thinking it: this is not a backdoor way to get more pages in Google’s index or to improve your search ranking. The official blog post mentions that. But I think this is a win for webmasters all around. If you use AdSense for search, the product is now better and more tweakable. And if you provide a sitemap, your custom search can get much better as those urls are incorporated into a CSE-specific index.
I’ll just give you a quick anecdote to point out how easy-to-use this product is becoming. My Mom runs a charity that has a web site, and she asked me about site search. We had this email exchange over the course of several hours:
Mom: I wonder if I can add a gadget to search our website like I see on other websites. Is that hard?
Me: This is what people use to add a search box to their site: http://www.google.com/cse/
Mom: It works. I have a search button on my blog!
At my grad school, the goal was to create something so useful that a faculty member would want to use it, and so easy that a faculty member could use it. As the email exchange above shows, Google Custom Search Engine is so easy, it’s Mom-approved.
The Custom Search Engine team keeps pushing the technology further and further, and these two changes are major improvements. If you haven’t taken a look at using CSE for your site search recently, it’s worth taking a fresh look.