For awhile now Google has offered businesses a hosted site search they can use to enable search on their websites without purchasing some expensive search engine. It was called Google Custom Search and it was good, but basic. Now they've come out with some enhancements to this search that will improve the quality of the search results along with a change in the name.Until now, with Google Custom Search
you had the ability to place a search box on your site and have results returned that match your site's content. You could limit what directories within your site were searched, provide quick links at the top of search results that linked to specific searches, and customize the search
results page to some degree.
What you couldn't do was apply synonyms, order results by date, have certain results appear at the top of the results, change the crawling frequency and many more traditional search engine capabilities. Until now...
Google now calls their Custom Search Business Edition offering Google Site Search and has provided four new features to its offering: Enhanced Index Coverage
Google now provides deeper coverage of a website to enable even better search results. By default it searches all content within the Google.com index. Now you can submit a sitemap and have additional pages added to your own custom search. Note that this will not add new pages to the Google.com index. Synonyms
> Synonyms are an important component to any search. Visitors often spell things wrong or use variants of a word. By enabling webmasters to create synonyms for their search, results can be more comprehensive the first time. For example, a search for "mortgages" could also include "home loans". Organizations can ensure that related content is displayed in a single search. They also upload a custom synonym dictionary. Date Biasing
You can now have content dates influence the order of your search results. You can say that documents or content that is more recent (new date) should be weighted higher for results that one that is five years old. You don't have to use this feature if you don't want. Webmasters can also indicate how much influence this feature can have on search results. Top Results Biasing
We like this one. You can now indicate if certain sections of your website should be displayed at the top of the search results. So if there is certain content you want to have shown first -- like products from your product catalog -- you can tell Google to display these results at the top. Full customization of the Look & Feel
In addition to the new features available, organizations can now fully customize the look of the search results to match their website. Before, they were limited to font colors and other small changes.
All in all, some good enhancements to Google Site Search. This is a solution
that is used by many small to medium sized organizations today. The price is right and the functionality is getting better all the time. With Google.com's index behind the scenes you are pretty much ensured your content will be up to date and relevant.