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Resources for the modern journalist. From Loose Wire

Search: Setting up A Custom Search Engine


Custom Search is a great way to build a search engine that searches only the sites on your beat. This is useful if you find you’re searching those sites—blogs, government sites, news sites, etc—on a regular basis and would rather search them all in one go.

Setting it up is pretty easy.

Go to Google’s Custom Search Engine page.

Click on the blue button:


Enter a name, and a brief description:


Enter some keywords relevant to your beat and the language you’re working in:


Select the first option in the next list (Only sites I select) – unless you want to include the web in your search, with the sites you select in the next window given priority:


Start typing in (or pasting) the names of the websites you want to include. Include http:// s ; it won’t work without. (Best to add a slash at the end, too.)


Select the free edition and click the terms of service. And then click Next:


Try a few test queries to see if you need to tweak. If you do, hit the browser’s back key and tweak:


When you’re happy, click Finish. (You can always add more sites later.)

You’ll then be sent to a page listing your search engine, and any others you choose to add. If you need to tweak, click on the control panel link; the homepage link will take you to the search box of the relevant engine.

Here’s a couple of custom search engines I’ve built as examples:


It’s worth bookmarking this page, or even adding it to your iGoogle page if you have one.

  • If you find that websites are not returning results you expect, add an asterisk after the slash: http://www.cnn.com/* for example.
  • Some websites don’t submit themselves to Google well. For mission critical searches, compare the results of your engine with those of the site’s own search. Sometimes Google does a better job, but sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Custom search works best a tool to use alongside RSS feeds. RSS is great for monitoring new stuff; custom search is great for looking up background or hunting other less time-sensitive stuff: names, projects, companies etc



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