Sunday, November 05, 2006

Custom Search Engines: Stealth Local Search

My "My Way" colleage, Tom Evslin, has an enthusiastic post about the possibilities of Custom Search Engines (CSEs). Google's CSEs let you specify which Web sites are a part of your search universe.

At first, I thought Tom was getting a little carried away with his enthusiasm, but upon further reflection, I think he's right on.

You see, CSEs are the perfect answer to the local search problem. By setting up a CSE for a specific community, and allowing community members to add sites to the list of searchable sites, you can quickly build an extremely robust local search engine.

I can easily see every city council in America setting up a CSE.

Or for the more entrepreneurial, how about a network of CSEs for different cities? Sure, there's not that much sustainable advantage, but there should be some degree of lock-in, and the call option value far exceeds the out-of-pocket cost ($0).

4 comments:

Ben Casnocha said...

CSE's for different cities is kind of like Steven Johnson's outside.in project which assembles blogs and sites in a specific area.

I'm BIG on local. I'm very intrigued by Judy'sBook, Yelp, and the like.

Tim Taylor said...

I'm a little confused (actually, I'm a lot confused, but only a little by your post). It's not so much about adding content, isn't about the algorithms and functionalities underneath that drive the utility of local searches?

CSE Links said...

If you are interested in publicising your CSE you may want to be an early bird submitter at our CSE links directory at http://www.cselinks.com/ - your submission will include as long a description of your CSE as you wish together with relevant keyword lists, both of which you will be entitled to edit and keep up to date if you register as an Editor. You can also add new CSEs as you build them. All Editors will also have permission to rate and comment on other CSEs thereby constantly improving the overall quality of our visitors' experience. The site went live on Thursday.


For those just getting started with CSE and especially the Google Coop they might want to makes sure that they have created a Google Personal page first. When wandering around the rapidly expanding world of customised search engines any CSE can be added to a Google Personal Page and arranged easily into to tabbed sections. Just toggle between your Personal Page and the Classic Google Interface! Build your own library of CSE's.

Chris said...

Tim,

Here's an example. Let's say I look up a generic service like "top florists" on Google. The chances that I'll get a local result are nil. But a CSE can cut down the universe of the Web to a manageable level, and deliver a local result with ease. It won't find things that Google couldn't, but it will filter out all the results that aren't possibly local.