Custom Search Engines

Why use Google’s Custom Search Engine?

Google’s Custom Search Engines (CSE) are a handy tool for allowing you to make your own special Google search. A CSE is basically a way of taking a query and allowing it to only search part of the internet.

 Similar to the site: operator, you choose what sites you want Google to search. It is a way to simplify your search and save your research process, especially if you frequently perform the same searches.

How to setup a CSE

Step 1. Log in. In order to create a CSE, you must be logged in to your Google account. All CSEs you create will be saved to your Google account. Unless you have set up a CSE up in the past, you will not have any CSEs in your account.

Step 2. Search Google for [custom search engine] and click on the link forhttp://www.google.com/cse/

Step 3. If this is your first time using this tool, click the blue box at the top right side of the screen that says Create a Custom Search Engine.

Step 4. Give your custom search a name, a description, and choose the language.  

Step 5. In the “Sites to search” box, list all of the websites you would like this custom search to use when it searches. Put only one URL per line.  At the bottom of the page, choose which edition you want to use (the standard edition is fine for most purposes).  Be sure to read the terms and conditions, check the terms and conditions box, and then click next.


Figure 1: Setting up your CSE—adding sites.

Step 6. Customize the appearance of your search engine, if desired.

Step 7. Type a search query in the search box (this is the box under “Try your search engine”).

         Figure 2. Setting up your CSE—selecting a look.

Step 8. (optional) Click on next to obtain the code for your custom search engine, if needed. You can copy-paste this JavaScript and put it into your own site.

Step 9. To see a list of your custom search engines, return to the main pagehttp://www.google.com/cse/.

     Figure 3. A listing of your custom search engines.

Step 10. To change the settings of your custom search, click on control panel. The control panel will allow you to edit each search engine’s basic information, languages, search preferences, etc.

Customizing your search engine using the control panel

  1. In control panel, you can create a new custom search engine by clicking on New Search Engine in the top left hand side of the page.
  2. In control panel, under search engine keywords, you can use advanced operators likeallinurl: or the exclusion operator (-) to narrow your search.
  3. In control panel, you can add or delete websites to your custom search.

Figure 4. Control Panel

Google’s CSE allows you to create web searches that filter results from a specific set of websites of your choosing.  You can design searches so that they only search through certain sites to produce the most efficient search results. Google’s custom search engine allows you to create specific searches based on your personalized needs.


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