Add Google Custom Search to Your Blog in Less Than 10 Minutes!

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

[tentblogger-vimeo 15994787]

***UPDATE – The above video is out of date since the iFrame system that Google CSE used to use is now old and deprecated. I have added a visual walk-through at the end of this post for a most up-to-date version!***

[Like the quality of the screencast? I use the Screenflow app for it!]

Challenge Type: Feature, Functionality
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Impact: Big! Google’s CSE is awesome. Period. Not to mention that having a Search Box is a good idea anyway! And honestly, why not have the most powerful search engine technology powering your search on your blog?

Have you ever wanted to add a really robust search engine to your own blog? You can do that easily with Google’s Custom Search Engine Tool!

In fact, the video above walks you through that entire process in less than 10 minutes!

Here are some additional things to take note of:

  1. I’m using WordPress. Here’s why.
  2. I use CSE (Custom Search Engine) because it’s easy to create and setup, familiar to the end user, and the results are very relevant and valuable.
  3. You can style the look easily!

Pretty sweet, right?

Let me know if you’ve accepted the challenge and then link to your site with the new search engine!

[Interested in more thoughts about CSE? I wrote a post here about another option and performance issues as well as a tip on how to create a “Network-Wide Google Custom Search Engine“. Sweet!]

Finally, I thought I’d share the reason why it would be best to pay for your CSE ($100.00 per year) if you can justify the cost at some point. Your goal, as much as you can control it, is to keep your visitors on your blog.

By having advertisements on the search results you give them “escape routes” to other content. One might argue that it pays you if they do but I’m of the camp where I’d rather they stay on my property and find value here, thus endearing them to my content and the community here, which I think pays off in the longer run.

Updated: Visual Walkthrough for Installing Google CSE

As I mentioned above the video is outdated and I didn’t have the time to make a new one – but I captured the process visually for your use!

It’s quite simple and here are the steps:

Head over to Google’s CSE Tool and click Create a Custom Search Engine.

Time to get started!

On the left you’ll see an option to start the creation of a New Search Engine – feel free to click that!

You might have some other search engines listed here as you build out other blogs that you’re working on. On a sidenote I think that Google CSE is a fairly complete solution and would recommend it for most blogs, depending on their unique needs of course.

The choice is up to you! There are definitely some other alternatives but none as robust as this option in my humble opinion.

The next step is to fill out the specifics of your Google CSE. You’ll want to input a name, description, and then the domain.

Just one blog to search or more than one?

For the Sites to search: area you’ll just want to start with your one blog – as you can see you can input more than one if you wish! But let’s start simple, shall we?

Click next and then next again and then find the Change Look and Feel button to get to the good stuff:

Nothing here for you right now...

There we go!

On the next page you’ll want to choose Two Page as the format and then style it as you wish. I recommend not doing anything for now – you can customize the design and style a bit later after you set it up.

Almost there...

Now you’ll have to enter the Search Results page that you’ve created in WordPress:

As you can see I created a WordPress page here on TentBlogger called “Search Results” with the post slug of /search-results/ – make sure you get this right as it won’t work otherwise!

You can even add your Google Analytics code in there to provide even more tracking for your Google CSE if you wish. I do have this in place for metrics and advanced analytics if you were wondering.

Finally, grab the code! You’ll want to put in a Text Widget the information in the first box and then the second set of code in your WordPress’ page:

A nice simple text widget.


WordPress Page called "Search Result" with the post slug of /search-results

Then that’s it!

You’ll want to test, of course (and it might take a second, especially on a new blog that might not have been indexed yet):

So pretty! So usable! So... Google!

And that’s it!

You’ve done it – congrats! Let me know if you have any questions.

[This post is part of the Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series. Check out the rest here!]