As your website grows in size over time, you may want to think about
adding a site-specific search box or widget, to help your readers to find the
information they’re seeking among your web pages.
According to stats released by Lijit
last November, Google still holds the lead for popular site search
widgets, withLijit coming up fast in second place. Other popular search tools named in the Lijit study included Blogbar.org, Eurekster,
IceRocket, Quintura, and Sphere.
In the few months since that study was published, Blogbar.org seems
to have disappeared from the running — the domain is currently parked,
with the registrar’s ad/search holding page in place of the
Blogbar site. But let’s take a look at the other 6 site search tools
named in the Lijit report, in alphabetical order:
isn’t a conventional site search widget, as such, but way to create a
custom search portal that is shaped by those who use it.
Pick whatever topic you want to focus on, customize the appearance
of the widget to suit your site design, decide what you want to index —
your website or blog, other sites, the web in general, or RSS feeds.
Your swicki will serves up on-topic content to your readers through a
widget that combines a tag cloud (or video collage!) and search bar.
Post it on your site and share it with your online community — users
can contribute links, comment, and vote on the content they find most
interesting and useful. The more your swicki is used, the more relevant
the search results will become.
Eurekster will display ads on results pages, but non-profit,
university, and government organizations may opt out of the
advertisements. Take a tour to find out more about how swickis work, or see Eurekster’s swicki directory for examples.
I started to make a swicki to show here as a demonstration, by the
way, but received an error message part of the way through the process.
I suspect this was a temporary error, related more to today’s unstable
internet connection than to any fault at Eurekster, and will be trying
again in a day or two, to see if the problem clears up by itself. The
widget is interesting enough to be worth a follow-up.
Google Custom Site Search
lets you “harness the power of Google” for your blog or website quickly
and easily, and your readers will need no introduction to using the
familiar Google search bar on your site.
Create a custom search engine
and choose whether you want to include only pages from your own site,
or enable users to search the whole Web from your page. A third option
is somewhere in the middle — search the Internet, but with results that
favor the websites that you select or exclude others. You can also
allow others to collaborate on creating a custom search engine,
deciding which pages and sites should be indexed.
Results can be hosted on your own site, and there’s a fair amount of
customization possible — yet the search engine is easy to set up and
install on your site. Reports for the most popular queries and usage
statistics are available on the statistics page of your CSE management
area of your Google account. Standard Google CSE is ad-supported (the
ads are on the results pages, just like a regular Google search) but
Google will waive the advertising for non-profit, government, or
Check out Google’s featured examples for some interesting ideas of how your organization might use a custom search engine.
IceRocket is quick and
easy to implement, and may be best suited to blogs — IceRocket is
primarily a blog directory service that helps to draw traffic by
indexing and distributing RSS feeds. IceRocket offers both “web search”
(2 styles of search box) and “web search with site search” boxes for
your website. Copy-and-paste the appropriate code to install your
choice of six styles, and replace “YOURDOMAIN.COM” with your own domain
wherever it appears in the code.
Lijit is powered by Google Custom
Site Search, so the results pages have a familiar look and feel — the
difference is in Lijit’s extended “social” features.
Lijit enables your readers to search not only the contents of your
own blog or website, but also pages you’ve bookmarked, photos you’ve
shared, the sites you’ve included in your blog roll, and so on — your
website and also your connections. When you first sign up for an
account, Lijit will ask for the most common username that you use
online, then it looks for matching public profiles -- you decide which of your social profiles to include. Weekly analytics reports are available to you by email.
As of about 2 weeks ago, Lijit also began to integrate blog comments into its search results. If you’re using JS-Kit, Intense Debate, or Disqus
to handle comments on your blog, Lijit search results will show how
many comments a post received, with a clickable link to get a preview
of the first couple of comments; and “view more comments” will show all
the comments on a post.
Quintura describes itself as “a
hosted site search, analytics and monetization solution for online
content publishers,” with a new affiliate program for web publishers
that permits a site-specific search. Quintura’s widget provides a
“visual-based search and navigation” in the form of a vertical tag
cloud. Clicking on a tag will provide links to search results, in the
conventional way, but also another level of tags will appear to help
refine the search. The front page link that invites you to take a tour is broken: see Quintura for Kids to see how the visual search engine works in practice.
Sphere is a bit of a stretch for
inclusion on a list of site-search tools. While it does pull
“contextually relevant content” from your archives, Sphere is more
about syndication than search. The ad-supported related content widget
will present your readers with content drawn from blogs and news
sources across the Web — videos and photographs included — as well as
content from your own site. No user-operated search form is included
(it’s all automatic), and there seems to be no obvious way of
controlling or pre-approving what headlines and advertisements will be
displayed. On balance, Sphere may be more appropriate for personal or commercial use than for a non-profit organization’s website.