Optimize Google Custom Search for In-Site-Search

by Yaniv Kimelfeld June 15th, 2012 

google-custom-search

In-sites-search is an essential element in the website optimization, since it can help to reduce bounce rateand keep visitors in the site longer. Moreover, site-search is essential for the site usability.

Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) is a free platform that utilize Googles resources such as its index and UI elements in order to create a specialized search engineover a list of specified websites. The easiest way to create CSE is probably through Adsense for Search. This will create a new CSE and associate it to the Adsense account automatically. However, in order to get into its advanced features one should switch to the Google CSE interface. In addition, by default 'Adsense for Search' screens out web-pages with adults content so it is recommended to turn-off 'SafeSearch' especially if the website that contains some adults sections.

Setting-up a basic CSE quite is simple and there are many guides for this need. In addition, there are plugins that integrate the Google CSE into popular CMSs like WordPressor Joomla. In this post we will try to go beyond this basic setting in order to optimize our site search.

Update Google Cse Code

Google CSE is constantly adding new features to its user search interface like autocompleteand sort options. However, these updates usually require to update the search engine code. Updating the code may give the site visitors a richer experience and ease their searching.

Language Settings

This setting can fit the user interface language to the website language. It may also help Google to supply appropriate spelling corrections and alternative terms, hence supply more relevant results.

Keywords Setting

In general, Google is boosting results that related to the specified keywords. This setting is essential when we include in the CSE websites with more than one topic. However, when we include only one website with clear agenda, it seem that keywords setting is unnecessary. On the other hand, keywords can yield more relevant ads to the site visitors. In order to set keywords without deteriorating the search results, we should set one or two keywords that are both specific enough to be effective and general enough to allow expansion of the website topic.

Google Analytics

The Google Analytics option is actually generates a new code for the site search in order to enable Google Analytics to track its usage. In addition to updating the site code on should set Site Search in the appropriate Google Analytics profile.

As opposed to Google CSE statistics, Google analytics Site Search tracking is dependent on the users Javascript settings. However its much more detailed, and it may supply valuable datafor improving the website search. For example, we may want to add auto completion phrases in order to eliminate recurrent one-word queries. In addition we may want to add synonyms to replace user terms with high page-views per search ratio with our own alternative terms in order to reduce this ratio.

Promotions

Another option is to look for the queries with the most page-views per query ratio and promote the page that this queries ended most of the times and for this query. One may also try to promote less visited pages through less popular queries or promote web-pages that relevant to specific season or holiday for that time window. For more aggressive promotion, one may use Promotions with autocompleteto promote web pages straight from the autocomplete select box.

On-demand Indexing

This option is relevant mainly for websites with massive updates, where Google indexing cannot keep up with its pages addition. On demand Indexing can index webpages temporally in the CSE own index to fill the gap until the indexing procedure (i.e. quality checking, ranking and the like) for Googles general index is finished. The temporary index quota is limited to 200 pages for the free edition (one should subscribe to the business edition to expand this limit). After the pages are indexed in Googles general index they will deleted from the temporary index and free up some CSE index space. If the website has a sitemapgenerator one may submit the sitemap URL to its website CSE, and Google will visit this URL periodically to index new web-pages in this website.

(If you liked this, you might enjoy Advanced Recipe Search [Specialized Engines] )

Yaniv Kimelfeld

Yaniv is an independent writer that inquires search engines in general and topical search engines in particular. He also explores methods for optimizing custom-built search engines.

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