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Google Launches Site Search Service for Business
Posted Aug 22, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 2 next »

By Avi Rappaport

Google has launched the Google Custom Search Business Edition (CSBE;, a search service designed for small-business Web sites. Using the search index, this service is available for as little as $100 per year. Simple enough for any site owner, this hosted search builds on the free Custom Search Engine(CSE), which has been available since fall 2006. The Business Edition does not show advertising, allows sites to opt out of the Google branding requirement, provides email technical support, and offers a powerful XML API (application programmer interface) for queries and results, but search is limited to pages indexed by the Web search engine.

Site search is a valuable tool for sites with more than a few dozen pages—it’s an alternate form of navigation, allowing site visitors to avoid deep drill downs and confusing labels, incorporating new vocabulary as soon as the content is posted and the index updated. "Millions of businesses have a Web presence but offer users no ability to search their site," said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise. "While many of these businesses invest in search advertising and search engine optimization to help customers find their business, customers are left on their own to navigate content once they land on a site."

With remote hosted search (Software as a Service, or SaaS), sites can add a search field to each page; when a user types a query, the form sends it to the search service, which retrieves matching pages from that site stored in the index and returns a results list to the site. Site visitors may never notice that the search results come from somewhere else.

The main example site mentioned,, proves how a full-text search engine, such as the Google CSBE, can supplement a more powerful but difficult forms-based search interface. Customers do not have to guess which fields are populated and available for searching; they can simply enter alocation or other criteria. Andy Steggles, president of the site, reports that a week after the Google CSBE search went live, the number of referrals increased by 30 percent and the customer service requests significantly decreased.

The CSBE takes advantage of the features of the Webwide search engine; the crawler traverses many kinds of links, including iframes, most image maps, and even some JavaScript links, although it cannot index content generated by JavaScript. It can index the most popular file formats: HTML, XML, text, PostScript, RTF, PDF, Lotus, MacWrite, MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Extensive character set and language recognition allow site visitors to find relevant documents in any language. The service uses Google’s successful spell-checking function, retrieves matches from within the Google index (with optional Safe Search enabling for eight languages), hides duplicate pages, and ranks using the same relevance algorithms perfected by the Web search service. Scaling and reliability should never be a problem, because Google has proven its expertise in these areas.

As with other hosted services, such as Visual Science Search (formerly Atomz), FreeFind, FusionBot, Webinator, SLI Search, Spiderline, and Blossom, there is no need to install software or hardware. Because the CSBE uses the index, it requires no additional bandwidth for indexing and just a small amount for serving search results. Google has provided hosted search services for several years under various names, and in testing it’s always been responsive and reliable.

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