Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to Use Google Custom Search Engines for Better SEO

Getting started with Google Custom Search is actually incredibly easy, but it’s something that many marketers are still missing. The tool is a great way to help make the Internet a little bit smaller, so if you’re hoping to simply search for something on a particular domain, specific page, or on a particular topic, a Google custom search makes that happen.
For those who are unfamiliar, it’s essentially a search bar that you can add to your website to help ensure that your visitors are searching within your website. It’s also a great way to find competitor links easier or use when you’re surfing the web for something specific (discussed in the next section). In other words, you’re essentially creating your own custom search engine full of only a certain type of results. For marketers looking for a new quick fix for the start of the New Year, custom search is a great place to start.

The Pros and Cons of Google Custom Search and How You Can Take Advantage

It’s important to understand if a custom search engine (CSE) is right for you by looking at some of the pros and cons described below:

The Pros of a Custom Search Engine:

  • Easy to understand. As discussed above, it allows you to search only a certain domain, webpage, or even topic. It makes the Internet smaller, and you’re in complete control.
  • Placement. Through a code you can copy, you can put the custom search on any website, webpage, or browser. This makes it easy to use and can help your customs search only your site if you include this search bar on your website.
  • Public URL. You can also get the public URL for your CSE so that you can use this new search engine when simply surfing around the web.
  • Preview. After you create your custom search, you can see a preview of the kinds of results you will get when you use your CSE. This can help you make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.
  • SEO. Custom search is an easy way to help you find competitor’s links. You can see where your competition is earning links and then try and earn those links on your own. It’s not the ideal way to build links, but it’s a good method when you’re in a tight spot.

The Cons of a Custom Search Engine:

  • No Asterisks. People have reported in the past that the CSE makes it tough to cover both “www” versus the simple domain name versus “http” or “https.”
  • Limited Results. A CSE does not turn up as many results as possible because Google limits these results, which you can learn more about in the study mentioned above.
As you can see, there are typically more pros to a CSE than cons, but it all depends upon your company. For some companies with a huge website or customer base, a limited number of results isn’t going to cut it. It’s up to you to give it a try and decide what’s best.

How to Create Your Own Google Custom Search Engine

Creating a CSE is incredibly easy. All you need to do is visit this link and then follow the directions that will pop up on your screen. You add in what types of results you want Google to pull up in your custom search and then you click “create.” Below is a screenshot of how it works:
gcs-1
Once you follow these directions, you will be taken to a page where you can get the code to put the search bar on your website, get the public URL, or visit your control panel to make edits. Below is a screenshot of this image:
gcs-2
If you ever want to log back in and take a look at your custom engines and make edits, you can do that. Below is a screenshot of my dashboard full of my custom search engines. If you were to click on any of your search engines, you’re taken to an edit page to make changes:
gcs-3
It’s as simple as that! Are you familiar with Google custom search? What have been your experiences and what do you recommend? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comments below.