Google unveiled today a new customizable search engine that can be added to any Web site. The new service, called Google Custom Search Engine and built off the Google Co-op technology, will ostensibly help publishers attune search experiences to their specific audiences while giving Google more inventory on which to place its AdSense advertisements.
Google CSE will allow publishers to customize which sites use the engine searches, specify which keywords describe the search content, and use Google's search APIs to insert the results page into the publisher's site's look and feel. Publishers can also connect Google CSE with their AdSense account.
Google CSE can be hosted on Google's servers or hosted in an iframe on the publisher's site. Once Google CSE is live, publishers can invite the site's community to help improve the search engine by sending them an e-mail invitation. That community can then tag and promote certain results.
Google execs said that the custom search results, and any weight the site's community places on those results, do not filter back into the main search engine index. Google execs also said that they have no immediate plans to learn from the user-generated taxonomies that may accumulate from user tags, although that may be possible in the future.
When asked if users would be confused that the results they see aren't pure Google index results, Google vice president Marissa Mayer said Google had worked very hard to make it obvious the results were filtered. Each results page contains a disclaimer, displayed in the upper right hand corner, that says, "Google search results customized by [publisher site] using Google Co-op."
Mayer said Google CSE was one of the most important announcements the company will be making this quarter. She also said that Google CSE incorporates ideas received as feedback after the launch of Google Co-op, which was widely hailed as useful but confusing to lay users.
Google CSE will create more competition in the burgeoning vertical search space, where companies such as Rollyo and Eurekster compete. In fact, Google representatives said the basic technology behind Google CSE is similar to that of Rollyo, although Google CSE allows greater customization, more collaborative features and connection to AdSense.
A representative from Eurekster said Google's new product is a validation of what Eurekster has been doing for much longer.