Google Custom Search is a service provided by Google Inc., which allows you to set up a custom search feature for your website.
If you set up Google Custom Search on your website, a Google search box will be integrated on it and provide a corresponding search functionality. Unlike the regular Google search engine, your search won’t cover the entire web. Instead it will be a custom search where the site operator defines which pages will be searched. It can be differentiated as follows:
In addition to the website where this search function is set up, other websites can be searched using Google custom search. The site operator can thus directly affect which search results will be displayed. Once all the necessary adjustments have been made, the site operator can integrate the search box into their website. To this end, Google provides an HTML code that can be integrated in the <body> region of your homepage. In addition, a public URL can be retrieved via the custom search directly from the browser similar to the regular Google search engine.
There is a wide range of options to customize the Google custom search. Some examples:
Both the search box itself and the search results pages can be largely customized to your pages in terms of design, so that at first glance it is hard to see that this is actually an external service. How to accurately set up and configure Google custom search is explained in this YouTube video.
Google custom search is free, however, there are some limitations. It cannot be completely customized in terms of design. Furthermore, the search box will be shown as Google custom search. If you don’t want that or wish to make further design modifications, you can upgrade to the paid Google site search version. The annual price for it varies depending on the total number of searches annually and is usually between 100 to 2,000 US dollars.
Google custom search presents many advantages for site operators and users alike:
Google custom search has no significant importance for search engine optimization because the ranking of a website cannot be affected by its use. But it is important, however, in the field of conversion optimization. A functional and easy to use search function is a must to ensure good usability. Google custom search can often serve this purpose better than an internal search.