Searching the web can sometimes feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose. You can stop searching the whole web when you already know the answer is going to be on 1 of 15 sites you regularly visit. Even though you know that the answer is on one of those sites, you don’t want to waste your time searching each site. Well the group think at Google has been hard at work perfecting your own personal search engine. Enter Google Custom Search. This easy to use tool allows you to setup a group of sites to search at once. Yes it’s that simple of an idea, but let’s examine why it’s helpful.
I like news. You like news as well, but we don’t trust just any news source. Let’s say hypothetically, the latest riot has erupted in a neighboring nation and you want to know what is happening now. Of course your first turn is Google. Unfortunately the websites that come up on the front page don’t seem to jive with the facts you have already gathered. To save yourself from mass media monsoons you have saved a mental list of websites you can trust to give it to you straight. One by one you search the first few but and they don’t seem to have the latest news, or it’s just the Associated Press story that doesn’t contain any new information. What is one to do? The answer is simple, Google’s custom search engine creation tool.
This tool can be effectively used for anyone trying to reduce the flow of information and limit it to a finite collection of sources. I currently have one custom search setup to only parse the top 20 local sites in the Missoula Montana area. Stripping away the national search results saves me minutes off of each search when I am looking for local information. Without the the custom filter in place many results that appeared in searches about Montana have Miley Cyrus attached to them. Oddly enough there was State that existed well before Billy Ray’s daughter made the name Hannah Montana the center of every 13 year old girls existence. With Google Custom Search I can put a nozzle on the media hose and focus it on the zany characters in Missoula Montana and not on the Disney Channel’s cash cow.
The power to leverage Google’s unfathomably powerful search engine is could be considered a power users tool. After examining at least one person’s search habits (one browser’s history) I created a list of sites that our mystery subject frequents. As it turns out most of the subjects interests are geeky at best. Marketing sites seem to dominate, followed by IT and science focused news sites. After cleverly crafting a few key search terms the research team discovered that nearly every topic the subject was interested in, existed on one of the 15 websites we added to our custom search engine. Clearing the clutter with a custom search engine can definitely make life easier. Stop passively searching and embrace the power the awe inspiring light of Google’s custom search engine tool!