I absolutely love Custom Search Engines. They can be very helpful if you have a specific group of websites that you know work well and will contain the information you need (such as the web sites from your Blogroll). There are three main custom search engine's I use: Google Custom Search Engine, Rollyo, and Swicki.
Google Custom Search Engine
Go to the Google Custom Search Engine homepage and create a Custom Search Engine for yourself. It is very easy, and it takes only a few simple steps and 10 minutes.
I created a Google Custom Search for Apple. The most important thing (and maybe difficult) is picking the right websites to add. I was very careful in this process. Listed below are a few of my 20 websites, and an explanation for why I chose them. The first 4 websites are from my Bloglines account and the final 2 are not.
- http://www.macnn.com: Provides every bit of news on Apple (even the smallest things), and therefore has a very impressive archive to search.
- http://www.apple.com: Has very detailed descriptions of Apple's products, and has a lot of other useful information such as press releases.
- http://www.seekingalpha.com: This provides great financial analysis of Apple (along with several other sites, such as MarketWatch).
- http://www.alleyinsider.com/: This site contains a ridiculous amount of technology news, including Apple. Has an excellent archive of news.
- http://news.google.com/news/section?ned=us&topic=t: This is the web address for Google News Technology. It provides tons of information about the technology sector (similar to AlleyInsider). However, it provides way too many sources to use in my blogroll.
- http://www.newyorktimes.com: Offers interesting articles about Apple and has a history archive dating back to the start of Apple (try an advanced search for news on Apple from the early 1980's, it's very cool)!
Listed below is my Apple Custom Search Engine. Try searching for anything involving Apple: one of it's products, financial news (stock price, revenue, growth), who their Senior Vice President of Industrial Design is, or anything!
How well does it work?
To test how effective my Apple Custom Search Engine is, I decided to try some searches:
First, I tried a search to find out Apple's iPhone sales from the last quarter. This is something I would realistically search for. Searching for "iPhone sales" in my Google Custom Search worked perfectly, bringing back 433 results. A normal Google search for this query brings back 31,100,000 results (half of which are useless).
I decided to try another search, this time using more difficult criteria. The goal of this search was to find the colors of the new iPod Nano. I searched for "iPod nano colors". Again, perfection! This search brought back 180 results, more than enough to find my answer. A Google Search brought back 7,310,000 results (many of the results in the top 30 were not helpful).
As it stands right now, my custom search engine works very well. And as I come across more sites, I can add them to my search engine!
Create your own
Making your own searchroll is very easy. The biggest thing is to find a list of websites you would like to use, which we discussed above with Google's CSE. Try searching for my searchroll called "Apple News" and testing it out.
Explore other Rollyo's
Searching through the Rollyo database is a great way to find new websites that other users find applicable. This is my favorite feature of Rollyo because it's a very easy method for finding new sites, which you can then use yourself. Searching "Apple" brought back a lot of great results. For instance, I found one called "Apple Search" rolled by EpicEmpire.com. Looking further, I found a Rollyo that was awesome for my search: "Mac Search" by MacAddict. He already had several of my sites, including my favorite (MacNN.com). Looking through each site in his Rollyo, I found several that I really liked: MacLife, Zicos, and a really cool site called iLounge and I added these to my RSS Feed.
Be sure to check out some of Rollyo's other cool features.
I really like Swicki, however, I will not go into depth for the sake of time and length of this article. I would recommend that you go to Eurekster.com and register an account. Creating a Swicki is extremely easy using their simple 4-step process. Also, take a tour of their website to learn more about Swicki's features.
You can also search the Swicki Directory, where you can look through 100,000 other Swicki's. For example, I did a basic search for "Apple" and found 98 Swicki's. Unfortunately I cannot put the link in here, so try the search for yourself. One of the results was a very cool Swicki called "Mac User Search Engine".