Sunday, November 19, 2006

Google Custom Search - Who's Using the Bouncer?

Google Custom Search has really taken off in the past month. It seems AJAX inspired Custom Search Engines are the wave of the future. Everybody and their mother is working hard at creating better search results on topics that interest them by including sites and even specific pages on a site related to their content.

However, in our frenzy to add the best sites to our Google CSE's I think many of us have forgotten about something probably just as powerful as the ability to add, the ability to "bounce" or exclude sites and pages from your index. Yes, I'm calling it "bouncing". Besides the ability to reward sites for great content, useful tools, and accurate information, Google has provided Vertical Search Engine creators with the tools to punish spammers, poorly written articles, and settle the occasional score. Just think of yourself as the owner of The Roxbury and the Exclude feature on Google CoOp as your 500 lb. bodyguard. Remember, the Roxbury isn't an elite club because it welcomes A-listers, it's elite because it Bounces everybody else.

I'll use an improvement I've just made to my Hero's Custom Search Engine as an example:

When people would run a query for the term "Sylar" the last result would be a Web Development / Design site. Normally I wouldn't "bounce" sites like this from my index, but remember this is a search engine for people looking for information on "Heroes" the television show. So until turns into a Heroes fansite I'm going to have to "bounce" it to make room for more relevant search results.
Now a search for "sylar" only yields search results relevant to "Heroes" the television show.

I have more than 10 Heroes fansites being given priority in my Heroes Custom Search Engine and still appeared in the top 10 results for a very popular and important keyword. Bouncing irrelevant sites rather than including relevant sites allowed me to provide the best search results possible. Remember that, it could come in handy one day.

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