Top 6 Popular Site Search Widgets

Lori Halley 10 February 2009 10 comments

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:

Eurekster

 Eurekster’s Swicki 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

 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 educational organizations.

Check out Google’s featured examples for some interesting ideas of how your organization might use a custom search engine.

IceRocket

 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

 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

 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

 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.

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 5:40 PM

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Comments

  • WidGet Blog » Blog Archive » Wild Apricot Blog : Top 6 Popular Site Search bWidgets/b said:

    Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 8:55 PM
  • Murad Hanif said:

    Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 9:35 PM

    Hi Rebecca,

    Just to let you know the swicki is up and running fine. I just made one for myself for testing purposes. It is definitely an interesting widget to use.

    --

    Murad

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 11 February 2009 at 5:31 AM

    Murad, thanks for that update - good to know that the error was temporary. Have you seen ReadWriteWeb's technology swicki (in their sidebar)? Great use of the widget!

  • Barney Moran said:

    Wednesday, 11 February 2009 at 6:38 PM

    Hey Murad,

    The Bloggers Union advises Publishers currently using or considering embedding Lijit Search into their content:  Lijit’s viability as a functioning entity is questionable.

    P.U.B. basis this alert these facts:

    1. Public releases from Lijit and other news sources put Lijit’s total money raised beside live revenue at under $20 Million over the last 24 months.

    2. Lijit has refused to offer transparency  its financial condition or revenue from advertising on Publisher’s Blogs.

    3. The current economic environment demands both transparency from revenue based providers like Lijit; and due diligence from the Bloggers Union on avoiding potential content disaster for Publishers.

    P.U.B. continues to take heat asking hard questions for our Publishers, including threats of legal action against the bloggers union by organizations like Lijit, because it’s simply the right thing to do in this economic environment for publishers. P.U.B. would rather pro actively protect Publishers now, then be answerable to publishers after companies like Lijit fail and leave that result for Publishers to contend with concerning their content.

    What to do:

    1) Have a back up.

    If you are a publisher either using Lijit Search or considering it, have a back up plan using a publicly traded search option on your blog or blog network. Publicly traded companies are obligated by law to have a degree of transparency concerning their financial position.

    2) Ask the same hard questions of Lijit and other revenue based blog vendors.

    Contact these companies seeking use of your content directly. Ask what their financial position is, and what their guidance moving forward for 2009 and 2010 and beyond is.

    P.U.B. will continue to post on these issues for our Publishers

  • Murad said:

    Friday, 13 February 2009 at 6:43 PM

    Yes Rebecca, Thanks. I just happened to look at it. Amazing tool.

  • Val Juntunen said:

    Tuesday, 24 February 2009 at 10:50 AM

    Can someone suggest or explain how to get a search in a member's only section of a website hosted on Wild Apricot??? I've managed to get a search up but it won't search behind the password protected area. Anyone know of one that will?

  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 24 February 2009 at 3:48 PM

    Val, member-only areas can not be searched by such search engines widgets - since they can not login as members and access secure content. Contact tech support if you need more info.

  • Rocket said:

    Thursday, 12 March 2009 at 1:46 AM

    Is there a plan to enable forum search for member areas?  I think this will be a deal breaker for us as the forum is expected to be our prime tool. I presume this will be doing the search yourself, as you do for your own forum.

  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 12 March 2009 at 2:55 AM

    We do have it in our plans to add integrated text search to Wild Apricot platform - starting with public content, and later on with protected content. There is no specific timeline yet though - so if this is a show-stopper requirement, Wild Apricot software would not work for you, sorry.

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 3:41 AM

    A challenging social media question came in from a very small health-related nonprofit support group, recently: How can we move the active conversation on our Facebook fan Page over to our organization’s blog?

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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