Top 10 Site Search Options

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 Custom 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.

Google Custom Search


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! Search BOSS

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.

Yahoo! Search BOSS

Bing Box

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.

Bing Box


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.


For more resources please see:

Stephen Snell is the owner and editor of Vandelay Design, a popular design blog.
  1. October 20, 2009

    Thanks for including us on your list of top site search tools, Steven. In addition to searching your blog and social content, like you explained, we also give blog publishers stats about what readers are searching for, where they’re coming from and what searches they’re doing that return no results.

    You’re giving your readers better search results which causes them to stay on your site longer. At the same time, you’re getting stats which help you to better understand and serve your readers.

    If you or any of your readers have questions, feel free to send them my way. I’m tara [at] lijit [dot] com and I’m happy to help!

  2. October 27, 2009

    Great article and some good options for site search. They all look good and I will definitely consider one of these for when I come to add a search bar to my websites. Thanks for sharing these.

  3. October 29, 2009

    Great article! Another important thing in site seach is to track anayticis from your visitors. Any of these services offer analytics apart from Google?

  4. Canadian Web Developer
    October 29, 2009

    I’ve implemented PicoSearch for a few clients. It was easy to implement and customize.

  5. October 29, 2009

    Thanks…nice collection…impressive

  6. October 29, 2009

    I know uses a Google Custom Search on the their site which is built on WordPress. I since thought that to be a good way to go especially if you have a lot of articles.

  7. October 29, 2009

    Thanks. I was looking for a way to integrate google adsense to search on my new design blog. The link to Problogger was particularly helpful.

  8. Mike
    October 31, 2009

    I use the paid version of Zoom Search Engine ( They have a free version for smaller sites.

    Sikbox says it’s for blogs only.

    Quintara wraps ads around search results, which can be good or bad.

    Rollyo didn’t work for me just now. It said “too many connections” and wouldn’t load the site. I’ll have to give it a look later.

    Thanks for publishing this.

  9. Pingback: links for 2009-11-02 « toonz

  10. cyrus
    November 10, 2009

    Hi there,

    thanks for this great article!

    I’m trying to implement a search engine for let’s say a forum; and I want to just search all the profiles, and I want the result to have a avatar and some teaser about the profile; would it be worthwhile to try any of these search engines? or it is better to do a database-level search? thanks!

  11. November 11, 2009

    Hi Cyrus,
    I don’t think any of these options will do what you want.

  12. jules
    November 24, 2009

    another site search with semantic capabilities:

  13. December 29, 2009

    It is a usefull article.

  14. January 7, 2010

    THNX for this m gonna use bing now,as google it loooks much better then the old google custom search

  15. August 8, 2010


  16. November 6, 2010

    Great options really like the drop down results on Sikbox..

  17. tss
    January 4, 2011

    SearchBlox is now a completely FREE product and is also available on the Amazon Cloud.

  18. March 22, 2011

    Great Info!


  19. June 22, 2011

    Thanks for top inf.see more

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