How do I add a search facility to my website?

Some time back, Janine of Special Little People asked me how she could add a search facility to her website. Here are some options that are available.


As with everything there are a number of options for this, some of which are more effective than others, some of which cost more than others and some which are more elegant than others. My initial attempt was to use a tool that Google provides by which you can add a search box to your website. This lets users search your website or search the Web and is called Google Adsense for Search. This is a popular choice with webmasters because if users click on any sponsored links, then Google will share part of the advertising revenue with you. The downside of this solution is that you have very little control of how the search box looks or what the returned results look like. You can theme the page, but it’s very apparent that your user has left your website.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can purchase search engine technology to fit into your website. For example, Google sells it’s Search Appliance at prices starting around $2000 for sites containing up to 50,000 documents. This can be integrated with your website and your viewes can enjoy a seamless experience.

I finally decided to take a middle-of-the road approach. We implemented a spider that crawls the website, builds an index of all the content and lets users search for anything they might be interested in. The spider used was an open source product called Sphider which is a lightweight indexing engine using PHP and mySQL and lent itself quite well to the task at hand.

So many options, huh?

4 thoughts on “How do I add a search facility to my website?”

  1. Hi, I’m reading via the Bumpzee No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community RSS feed. 🙂

    Another option might be creating a Google Custom Search, or just placing a plain searchbox that will automatically append the “site:speciallittlepeople.co.uk”. However, I think you might just have the best solutions there…

    Sephyroth
    http://www.sephyroth.net

  2. Google Custom Search Engines (CSE) are another cool tool. You can create a search engine that includes the sites you choose and have Google technology provide the results (and you can easily have the results posted back to your own site). We have several CSEs including one that searches several of our sites (convenient if you have multiple sites you want included in your “site search) – see Curious Cat Customer Search Engine examples. To set up your own see Google Coop

  3. I think you took the best option around. you should write a post about how to setup a spider and a search like that. right now I have Google Adsense search but this just takes people away from my site. this seems like a wonderful solution. I sure other people would like to know more about this method.
    Todd

  4. Communication Tube – Its a online web chat client for the popular instant messaging: live messenger,gtalk,ICQ,irc. Communication Tube is compatible with all popular browsers.

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