Google is offering companies and developers a new suite of application under the name Google Services for Websites that will allow users to further customize their online space.
Google officially launched the new suite March 25.
“This expanded program includes Webmaster Tools, AdSense, Custom Search, and Site Search,” Rajat Mukherjee, group product manager for Google, wrote on the official Google blog, “making it easier to drive traffic to your site, monetize your site through the Google ad network, and add various search capabilities to help your visitors find information on your site faster.”
The applications have particular use to small- to medium-sized businesses, which may already use Google’s cloud-computing services, such as Google Apps, to execute workday functions. Google Webmaster Tools, for example, allows users to see which queries are driving visitors to their site, and provides reports on their pages’ visibility on Google. AdSense lets users display relevant Google ads on their online content, creating a revenue stream.
“We are excited to have Google Site Search as part of the program because it provides us with better partner opportunities with the Web hosting community,” Nitin Mangtani and Dave Kim of the Google Enteprise Search team wrote on the official Google enterprise blog. “All together, hosting service providers can now make use of multiple Google APIs and add these services for their customers at no cost.”
Mangtani and Kim cited the expanded program’s offering of Custom Search and Google Site Search as particularly useful to the enterprise. Custom Search allows developers to create a custom search engine tailored to specific business or client needs; Google Site Search lets visitors scour an enterprise or business site for particular information.
Although Google has touted AdSense as an essential component of Google Services for Websites, the company’s recent use of interest-based advertising, also known as “online behavioral targeting,” has drawn some controversy over the amount of user data it collects. Google says that it still allows users control over which information they choose to make available for collection.
Meanwhile, companies such as Yahoo and Facebook have allowed their online components to be tinkered with by both developers and users. On March 12, Yahoo announced that new features for SearchMonkey would enhance search results with flash video, games and slides.
Facebook, which is currently wrestling with mass member displeasure over its redesigned homepage, has also opened up its Facebook Platform to developer input, and offered the ability to customize its social-messaging widgets.
In November 2008, Microsoft issued Live Search API 2.0, included as part of Project Silk Road, a collection of Web developer services. In addition to the Live Search API, Project Silk Road also offers Virtual Earth API, adCenter Publisher, Webmaster Center, Custom Web Error Toolkit, and an Excel Add-in for AdCenter. With Live Search API 2.0, developers can control how they rank and format results, and can choose from JSON, X M L and SOAP protocols; content partnerships also allow access to news, images, maps and other sources.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include more information about Microsoft’s Live Search API 2.0.