Google Launches Hosted Website Search for SMBs

Google fired a direct volley at its chief adversaries in the enterprise search market, Microsoft and IBM, with the July 17 launch of its Google Custom Search Business Edition service.

The Custom Search Business Edition is a hosted, fee-based site search service aimed at small and medium-size businesses—but available for any Web site—that adds Google-type indexing and customized-search capabilities. The service’s free version displays advertisements; companies with larger, more complicated sites can have the ads turned off for as little as $100 per year or buy the Google Search Appliance itself to provide site and intranet search behind the firewall.

Indexing up to 5,000 pages will cost $100 a year, while 50,000 pages costs $500. Prices start at $15,000 for 1 million pages and more, a Google spokesperson said. Google, in Mountain View, Calif., also will provide its own service support via e-mail or telephone.

“In three simple steps, businesses can sign up online for the hosted service, and in less than 10 minutes customers and visitors are able to search their site using Google’s search technology for more relevant results,” said Nitin Mangtani, Google product manager for enterprise search. “You only need to add four lines of code to the site to make this work.”

To read about how Google has extended its lead over Yahoo and Microsoft, click here.

This service should be a great help to the millions of businesses that have a Web presence but don’t offer users any way to search the site, Mangtani said. “Instead of being left on their own to navigate content, visitors to these sites will be able to navigate through search results without ever leaving the site,” he said.

To set up the Custom Search Business Edition, businesses need only to: identify the site(s) to search, and select either “all” or “selective” searching of content; add the search box and customize the appearance by adding a logo and matching the site’s look and feel; and customize search results with refinements that reflect site content (such as sectional groupings, for example).

The Custom Search Business Edition is built directly on the Google Custom Search Engine, a hosted search solution introduced in October 2006.

By adding business integration features through an XML API, Mangtani said, users have the option to turn off ads and design a more customized look and feel.

The Custom Search Business Edition joins other search offerings from the Google enterprise group including the Google Search Appliance and Google Mini, both of which offer additional control over crawl depth and timing, as well as secure access to internal documents.

Holiday Home Rental, a U.K.-based online directory of 25,000 holiday rental homes with more than 150,000 pages of content, has been using the service on its home site for several months.

The Google Custom Search feature is placed in the upper right corner of the site. Entering “Liverpool B&B,” for example, netted two full pages of listings from the site that looked similar to regular Google results.

“The number of referrals generated to our homeowner base has increased by approximately 30 percent, and at the same time, the number of customer service requests has also significantly decreased,” said Andy Steggles, president of Holiday Home Rental. “The results have been overwhelming.”

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