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Understanding Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) & JSON API

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Shankar Krishnan

Technology | April 21, 2019

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Since the introduction of ‘Custom Search Engine (CSE)’ by Google back in 2006, millions of businesses have started using it in their websites to provide a custom search experience for users. Integrating this not only helped websites to run their own custom search engine, but also eased the process of implementing search box functionality.

Although the main objective of using CSE is to list relevant results for the queries made, it also focuses on taking a collaborative approach in order to improve the search quality and customer experience across multiple channels.

Started with a simple process of asking site owners to add pages and domains for displaying results, Google has come a long way now in deriving the most sophisticated, powerful and fast engine till day, that helps in bringing out precise matches for the queries made by the end-users.

The custom search for sites was achieved earlier using the following two methods:

  1. Google Site Search
  2. Google Search Appliance

‘Google Site Search’ came with a plug-and-play setup which made it easy for companies to integrate their websites with custom search box. Although the purpose was met here, only a partial, customization look, feel and content from website were crawled and indexed, meaning all the deep links were missed out.

At the same time, ‘Google Search Appliance’ was a hardware product typically hosted at the company’s data center with the capability to crawl sites internal to the firewall of the company, external to public facing sites and possess features like facets, authenticated crawls, custom indexing schedules, etc.

Although these products worked great, they were certainly getting outdated compared to other search products which offered better features like connectors for various platforms, analytics, relevancy tuning, recommendations, fully customization interface amongst the many.

With frequent changes in user demand and search pattern, Google has evolved and transformed the way search results are delivered to the end-user today. Developers can send RESTful requests to get web search or image search results in JSON format on the search box which is integrated into the website.

Today we are covering all the things you need to know about the new ‘Custom Search JSON API By Google’.

The Custom Search JSON API lets you develop websites and applications to retrieve and display search results from Google Custom Search programmatically, allowing you to build high quality experience for the site users using Google indexed content and its relevant algorithms available through JSON API.

Google custom search

Where can you use Custom Search JSON API?

  • To build faceted search experience across several of your web properties handling several thousand search queries a day
  • To build a complete end-to-end search experience for your content site including Search results page, auto complete, filtering, pagination etc
  • To build smart recommendation features on your site (Recommended next pages)
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