5 Easy Ways To Make A Customized Search Engine

Returning visitors are an important part of a successful web site. And if you give them something special, some boon that your competitors don't offer, chances are your visitors will come back. Building your blog or web site and researching your topic you have most likely gained knowledge that your users could benefit from. Why not offer them a customized search engine that draws on that knowledge?

Here are introductions to five great tools for making a customized search engine. They are all easy to use and embed. Find the one that meets your needs and get cracking.


Gigablast topic search engine can be created in minutes. The service allows to create upto 500 websites or subsites with search box. The search results can be retrieved in XML as well with many customisation options. Gigablast’s custom search used by companies such as snap.com search, rollyo, ixquick and many others.

Update: The solution is available since more than 10 years now and is still available while many others are defunct.

Google Custom Search

Google Custom Search has more options. It lets you build a search engine that includes one website, multiple websites, or specific web pages. You can customize the colors and add a logo to match your existing web pages. If you like, you can host the search box and results on your own website. Here's how to do it:

Go to Google Custom Search and click on the big blue button encouraging you to create a custom search engine. This brings you to a simple web form. Pay special attention to these two points:

Under the header What do you want to search? you have 3 alternatives to choose from. If you choose the third, The entire Web, all you get is a Google search box for your site. The two other options give you a chance to shine:

The first alternative, Only sites I select creates a search engine that searches, say, your favorite sites on caring for guinea pigs.

The second alternative,The entire web, but emphasize sites I select, will search Google's whole index, but give a boost to results from sites you pick.

So you need to decide whether you want this to be the only material searched or if you want to trust Google's general search result in the mix. Your choice will depend, among other things, on the nature of your topic and the number of quality sites on your list.
This brings us to the second important point: Under the header Select some sites, enter a list of those hand picked, high quality sites that you have come to trust during your research.

When you have agreed to the terms of service and clicked the Next button, you get a chance to test your brand new search engine. If the results are not to your liking, go back to the previous step (using the back button in your browser) and ajust the two main points described above. When it works to your satisfaction, click Finish.

You can now go to the control panel to work out the look and feel of your search engine and get the code to embed it on your site. If you have the time and interest, I recommend you take a look and explore the tools Google offers for your search engine, like statistics, monetization and more.


If what you need is simply search engine that will search a specific set of web sites, Rollyo is a simple and fun way to do it. It's this easy:

  • Go to the Rollyo site and sign up for an account.
  • Click Create Searchroll.
  • Give your search engine a name. Be descriptive.
  • Enter up to 25 web sites. This is where you get to show your expertise.
  • If you want to, choose one of 18 categories for your search engine to be listed in.
  • You also have the option to add some tags (comma separated) to define the area your search engine is covering.

Now go to the Dashboard from the Rollyo web site and choose the tool Searchbox from the right hand menu. Here you enter your site name and your sites web address. If you have made more than one search engine (called Searchrolls), pick the one you want to embed, choose from five looks, copy the code and paste it on your site.

It's that easy and it's guaranteed to make your site or blog more interesting for your users.


If you feel a little more adventureous, why not try a Swicki? A Swicki is a community powered customized search engine, tailor made to produce targeted search results for your visitors. With every search, vote and click, your Swicki generates more relevant results and turns into a valuable asset for you and your community.

The Swicki has a couple of interesting extra features: You can choose if you want to search text or videos and, o give shortcuts to popular key words or search terms, the Swicki will show a buzz cloud next to the search field. This swarm of words that gives you an idea of what is hot in the community.

The look, size and shape of the Swicki can be customized to fit the design of your site or blog seamlessly.

In a few clicks, the Swicki Tour shows you how to make your own. I made Pandia's Swicki in 10 minutes.

Yahoo Search Builder

Yahoo! Has launched what it calls a search builder. It lets you build a specialized search engine tailored to your interests, your business, your web site etc.

Here is how it works

First you choose which kinds of search you want in the Yahoo! Search Builder. The standard is regular Yahoo! web search, but you can add site search for a particular domain and also news search from Yahoo!

The web search and news search options can be customized – this is the main point of a specialized search engine.

For the web search you tell Yahoo! which sites you want to be included in topic searches.

Remember that you need to enter one site per line, in quotation marks. At this stage you can preview web search results.

Give it a try! This way you also see if you have filled in the form correctly.

Search box

Next you get to customize your search box. You can choose the size and the colors of the box and you can include a tag cloud if you like. You also customize the search results page, where you can add a text and a logo.

You are then provided with a piece of code that you can paste into your web site. The whole process of setting it up requires no HTML knowledge and the pasting part should not be much of a challenge for your average web site owner.

Update: This tool was recently shut down by yahoo.

Note: This is an archived artciel. First published on 6 January 2009. Written by Per and Susanne Koch.