If you want to offer your visitors a more rewarding experience on your website a customized search engine allows you to create a more rewarding search experience for your visitors and help them find what they are searching for.
The solution is to create and install a search engine application for your website. The solution you use will depend on the content management system you have and how many pages are in your site.
Below are some of the best and easiest choices I have found for helping create your site search engine. With the exception of the WordPress plugins listed below though, these solutions will work for any website.
Major Search Engines
There are three major search engines on the internet: Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Bing. Eighty percent of your searches will come from these three search engines, so you want to make sure your site is completely indexed in each one of these. This is especially important if you choose to use one of these sites as your search choice.
Google is the largest search engine on the internet. It receives most of the searches online, and it also offers the most comprehensive index of pages on the internet.
If you choose to use Google Custom Search for your website, the first thing you need to do is sign up for a Google account (Gmail). You will use this account later when you are ready to sign in to Google and set up your site map.
Next, create a site map. (A site map is a list of all the pages in your site.) Submit your site map to Google Site maps. You will need to verify your site map so follow the instructions on the site. Wait a few days and then log into your account to check the progress to find out how many of your pages you have indexed.
The advantage to using Google is that it indexes your pages quickly, and so they are available in your site search. Another advantage is that if you have an Adsense account, you can earn money every time one of your visitors uses your search. The biggest disadvantage I see is it may take time to get your pages indexed. My experience has been that Google usually indexes pages quickly, but there are no guarantees.
Windows Live is part of the MSN/Bing Network. With Bing you can design your own custom search engine using Bing results.
Your first step here is to again create a site map for your website. Submit your site map to Bing. To get your site indexed more quickly, sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools. You will also receive statistics about your pages, including what your visitors are searching for (keywords), and crawl activity, index coverage, and traffic stats (Google Site maps will also give you similar information.)
Once you have created your site map and submitted to Bing, you will have to wait for your pages to be indexed. Then, create your search engine for your site using the instructions above.
The only disadvantages to using this service will be how quickly your pages get indexed and the size of Bing. Bing is the third largest search engine on the internet.
Yahoo is the second largest search engine on the internet and one of the most popular sites in the world. Like Bing, they only have a small slice of the search market, but both of these sites are still important to your search engine marketing campaigns.
Your first step here is to submit your site to Yahoo Explorer. This will allow you to get your site indexed faster although Yahoo is somewhat slow about indexing new sites.
I suggest you submit your site map here and submit your RSS feed if you have one. Search Yahoo for “Submit to Yahoo” to get access to all the submission forms for Yahoo.
To create your search box, follow the instructions above. As with Bing, it may take you longer to get your pages indexed, and it’s also a much smaller search engine than Google. The best thing to do is to test these various options and decide which one you like best.
Other Search Boxes and Services
A completely free system that offers robust indexing options. It’s also completely customizable to your needs.
Add an advanced site search index to your website in minutes. Includes many advanced features, including daily re-indexing of your site.
This site offers both free and paid search. It’s a full featured search engine system that allows you to re-index your websites any time you want.
Qwiki is a different type of search utility. It turns your website information into an interactive experience. Because it offers an API, you may customize it to present your information your way.
This site offers the easiest way for you to have site search on your website. Fully customizable to fit your needs, it’s easy to install and requires no programming.
With Zoom, you download a PC program to index the entire of contents of your website. Once the content gets indexed, the software generates the files you need. Just upload them to your website, and your site is fully search capable.
With a flexible and fully customizable API, this WordPress plugin allows you to add a more customized solution to your site than the standard WordPress search. Free for personal sites with less than 5,000 visitors per month, it’s also a low-cost solution for commercial sites.
Fix your search. Present your best searches for your users. Gain control over the search process and create a better overall search experience for both you and your users.
For larger sites, this is an excellent solution. Allow your users to search by relevance, freshness, or both. Supports searching in comments, posts, and pages.
Lost cost paid solution that allows you to add search to any site. Also offers a solution for WordPress.
Whether you use a content management system or static HTML pages to build your site, creating a search engine for your website will allow your visitors to find what they are looking for and keep them on your site.