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How do I add a search engine to my website?

Add a search engine to a web site

A website search engine allows visitors to quickly search files and pages on your website. Several companies offer these services that vary in price – a free version is generally available – features, number of pages crawled etc.

Why have a website search engine?

A website search engine is an excellent feature that helps visitors to locate relevant web pages quickly. Surfers come to your website looking for information (even before they buy products, they would like to look at the product information) and if your website is large with hundreds of web pages, finding relevant information might prove difficult.

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Remember, web surfers are an impatient lot. You need to quickly serve what they want and not have them probe around your website. A search engine for your website will help you tremendously in retaining and building visitor confidence.

A website search engine allows visitors to quickly perform searches on pages of your website based on their queries. And for sites consisting of hundreds of pages, it is unwise to expect visitors to grope around the website looking for information even if the navigation has been planned well. With an internal search engine, you can provide a form field with a phrase Search this website or search my website in which visitors type in their query and find the information they want quickly.

How does a website search engine work?

A website search engine works pretty much the same way as any web search engine such as Google, MSN or Yahoo! It needs to index the files on your web site; which means that the search engine needs to read and organize the contents of the files so that searches can be performed quickly displaying relevant search results.

How can you set up a search engine for your website?

Setting up a website search engine using the online services that I will be listing is quite easy and you can have one up and running on your website in no time. It involves:

  • Creating an account – You need to sign up and provide your web site details
  • Waiting for a program/bot to index the files and web pages on your website – you will be informed when the indexing is over.
  • Adding a little HTML code supplied by the company to your web pages – You can add this code using your favorite HTML editor or ask your web developer to do it.

Typically, when you sign up for a website search engine account you provide the URL of your website. A program/bot then comes to your website, reads and indexes the web pages and files, simultaneously adding them to a remotely hosted database. The program/bot does this indexing process on its own without your involvement. Also, since the indexing results are stored in a database on another server you do not need to create one (or even know what a database is). You will be informed when the indexing is complete and will be provided with a bit of HTML code. You then include the HTML code on all your web pages or pages from which you want surfers to perform searches. Most website search engine providers would even allow you to configure the website search engine’s features so that the search results page matches the look and feel of your web site.

Where can I get a free web site search engine?

Most, if not all, website search engine providers offer a free version. But as we all know… there are no free lunches in life. So what is the catch?

  • Free website search engine services will limit the number of pages that can be indexed from your site.
  • The search result pages would display some advertisements from the sponsors of the service.
  • The service might not let you configure the search results page.
  • Not all types of files would be indexed. So, if you have lost of PDF or MS Word document, for instance, these files types might be ignored by the free version.
  • The indexing frequency would not be high in the free version. For example, your web site files would be indexed only monthly which, would not a good option especially if you add tons of pages and files each week.

Thus, if you want the search results page to be devoid of advertisements or have the exact same look and feel of your web site, you either have to pay for the website search engine service, develop a custom search script or download and install one of the website search scripts (developed by some good Samaritans – God bless them). Read web site search scripts, if you want to know more.

All free web site search engine services also have paid packages and you can choose one which fits your bill (literally and figuratively).

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