Part of having a user-friendly site involves making it possible for visitors to quickly find what they are looking for. A site-wide search is one of the best ways to accomplish this. In this post we’ll look at 10 of the leading options for helping visitors to find the content that they want. Of course, most CMSs come with a standard search functionality, but this may not always be the best options (as is the case with WordPress’ default search).
Google’s custom search engine is the most popular of the options presented here. It’s easy to set up (sign in with your Google account and follow the instructions – Pro Blog Design has a step-by-step tutorial here), effective for finding and ranking the content, and can even be monetized through a corresponding AdSense account.
Lijit is an increasingly popular option that searches your site as well as your other online content, such as Twitter, Delicious, LinkedIn, Digg, and StumbleUpon. With Lijit you can brand your search, make money from text ads, and there are several other features.
Yahoo! offers an open search web services platform called BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service). With BOSS you can build a custom search engine that utilizes Yahoo’s search index and ranking technology. This is a much more advanced solution than placing a widget on your site and is probably not a practical or appropriate choice for small to medium-sized sites. Tech Cruch uses BOSS for a custom search engine that includes results from their network of sites.
Bing offer’s a custom search that is similar to Google’s. You can set up your custom search engine, get the code from Bing, and paste it into your site. Search results can be shown on your site of on Bing.
Sikbox is a pretty nice-looking option that can be customized via CSS to match the look and feel of your site. No programming is required, they provide the code for you. Image search support is also available.
Rollyo allows you to create a custom search engine by specifying the URLs that you want to include. Of course, for a site-wide search you would include just your own URL, and then you can get the code to add the search box to your site.
The Quintura site search widget can easily be added to your site to offer a site search and to montize your traffic. The widget uses a search cloud and you can display ads from your own inventory or sponsored ads.
Swicki from Eurekster
Swicki is a custom search portal that is based around the topic of your choice, as opposed to a more typical search feature that provides results only from your site. Swicki offers a way to monetize the traffic to your site.
If the other options presented here aren’t what you’re looking for, SearchBlox is feature-rich software that can be purchased. There is also a fre version available the will index up to 1,000 documents, includes the SearchBlox logo on search results and does not include the XML feature that is a part of the full version.
Sphere is not technically a site search, but it is another option for helping your visitors to find relevant content that they will appreciate. Sphere offers contextual widgets that will provide links to related content on your site as well as to content on various media outlets. There are currently over 200,000 sites using Sphere, including some major websites.
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