Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Using Google Custom Search On Your Blog

Here's one for the "How did he do that?" file. Many genealogy bloggers have said they like the convenience of the new Search GeneaBloggers Member Blogs widget (which allows you to search all posts in all of the nearly 500 genealogy blogs listed at GeneaBloggers). But many have also wondered how they can leverage Google Custom Search for their own blogs and website.

The details of the "how to" are listed below and only give you the basics - as with most Google apps, there are a myriad of bells, whistles and customizations you can add. Many depend upon your technical knowledge and the type of site you are running.

If you don't already know, I am a big fan of Google and all their free, open-source applications. I use Google Reader not only to read the posts from almost 500 genealogy blogs, but also to generate many of the widgets used over at GeneaBloggers including those for Tombstone Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday.

1. Go to the Google Custom Search website - you will need to log in with your Google credentials. If you do not have a Google account, go here to create one.



2. Click Create a Custom Search Engine.



3. The Set up your search engine screen appears.



4. In the Search engine name field enter a name for your search engine. Then in the Search engine description field enter a brief description of what type of search is to be performed. (Tip: Make sure to use your blog or site name as a form of branding in each field.)

Select your preferred language and in the What do you want to search? section, select Only sites I select.

5. In the Select some sites section, enter the URLs of the sites to be included in the search with one URL per line.



Select the Standard Edition radio button, mark the Terms of Service check box and then click Next.

6. You can now test your search engine in the Preview section. If you are happy with the results click Finish.



7. Click the Google custom search logo and then click manage your existing search engines. You will see a list of all the search engines you've created. Click Control Panel next to the name of the search engine.



8. Review the various customization options available in the left sidebar. Only work with the ones which are relevant to your search engine and your level of technical expertise. Don't be overwhelmed or feel that you need to totally "pimp out" your search engine with every option.



9. One area you should look at is Preferences in the Basics section. Decide if you want to include collaboration on your search engine (letting others add sites or make changes) and whether you want your search engine visibility made public or unlisted. Click Save Changes when finished.



10. Click Get Code to review the options available for inserting your new search engine on your blog or web page. For the Search GeneaBloggers Member Blogs widget, I used the first option which required me to place the code somewhere on my blog or website and the results would appear on a Google results page.



You can get more information and follow the latest news about Google Custom Search at the Google Custom Search Blog.

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