Google Renames, Enhances Hosted Site Search

By David Needle | Posted June 03, 2008

Google announced new features and a new name for its former Custom Search Business Edition service. The rechristened Google Site Search (GSS) includes a supplemental index the search giant said reaches more of a company's content and also provides more customization options of search results.

Hosted by Google, the GSS service is available now at the same starting price ($100 per year for searching up to 5,000 pages) as the Business Edition. There is also a free, ad-supported version. Basically (as with Business Edition) GSS offers companies a cloud-based search infrastructure with Google as the host utility providing the service.

Business Edition was released last July and has attracted "thousands of customers," according to Nitin Mangtani, Google's lead product manager for enterprise search. Mangtani declined to get any more specific with sales figures, but said with GSS the search giant expects to reach a broader market.

"What we heard with Business Edition is that there were great benefits, but no special indexing or controls for IT or Webmasters," Mangtani said. Those customers will automatically be upgraded to GSS.

Business Edition results were tied to Google.com algorithms, but GSS gives customers more control over results separate from Google's public site. For example, a widget supplier could set rules so the top three results for widgets at its GSS-supported site are widgets in the company's product catalog. That implementation has no effect on results at the public Google.com site.

Other customization features include "date biasing," where site owners can influence results based on the age of documents. For example, more recent product data sheets are given preference over older ones.

In addition, Web site owners can add their custom synonym dictionary to GSS, so, for example, a bank might add "fd" to help users looking for results related to "fixed deposits."

A Pretty Significant Upgrade

"Realistically, a lot of folks with a rudimentary search function at their site can see this as pretty significant upgrade for short money," Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann said.

"From a cost perspective, you could be paying more in maintenance fees for a competitor's products than what Google is charging," she said.

While some companies will want the additional levels of content, like image search, that Autonomy and others provide, Wettemann said Google is addressing a fast-growing market and is sure to add more features over time.

"There is a significant opportunity for Google with small to mid-market companies that need to have a good search function at their sites because consumers have come to expect it," she said.

Google also released several customer success stories by users of the earlier Business Edition. EMCInsignia.com, for example, said it saw a 20 percent increase in e-commerce sales and an 85 percent decrease in customer-requested refunds after implementing Custom Search Business Edition last year.

GSS also integrates with Google Analytics to give companies detailed figures on how users are navigating their site, how many queries they make by day, week or month and conversion rates.

TechSmith, a provider of screen capture and recording software, said the Google service showed a surprising amount of searches for 'Mac,' leading the company to develop more for the Macintosh.

Pricing for GSS jumps from $100 annually for up to 5,000 pages to $500 annually for 5001 to 50,000 pages.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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