Google Custom Search Engines

A customized Google search engine allows you to create a focused version of the main Google search page that can be used to help steer your students towards specific web-accessible resources. For example, say you wanted your students to research “Animals of Africa.” If you were to use the main Google search engine (http://www.google.com) to begin the research process you would get a vast number of “hits” from sites all across the world – using a customized Google search engine will allow you to narrow down these hits and focus the results of your search on a few, pre-selected sites that you have deemed to be authoritative and reputable.

Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Visit http://www.google.com/cse/
  2. Click on “Create a Custom Google Search Engine”
  3. Provide the information requested, including a title for your new search engine (“Animals of Africa”) and a description.
  4. Provide a listing of websites that you would like your new search engine to use. For example, you can specify that your search engine should only use the African Wildlife Foundation (“http://www.awf.org/”) and National Geographic (“http://www.nationalgeographic.com/”). You can specify multiple sites by placing them on their own lines.
  5. When you are finished, agree to the terms of service and click the Next button.
  6. Click Done. You’ll now be given a link to your search engine. You can provide this link to your students via your blog or website. Here’s a link to the “Animals of Africa” search engine that I described in this post.
  7. You can also embed your search into your blog using the standard embedding techniques we have covered so far.  Here’s an example:

  8. You can always go back to the main custom search engine page (http://www.google.com/cse/) to update your engine to include additional resources at a later date.