Brooklyn Based Web Development

Google Custom Search for Non Profits

Google Custom Search for Non Profits

Still called Google CSE, the company has revamped it’s product… now it’s Programmable Search Engine. For Non-profits, its totally free as well as ad-free when you have registered as an authorized non profit with G-suite or other Google based account. 

Case Study: Bomb Magazine

Bombmagazine isn’t built on the WordPress platform, but it is a LAMP stack based CMS website. With more than 10,000 articles, and nearing 20,000 taxonomy terms, this site is a perfect candidate for a Google CSE Custom Search Engine with Autocomplete functions. 

Along with a server upgrade, the new website features an internal search engine that was specifically built to search through Articles only. The original build did not include the ability to search through all content on the site including taxonomy terms, authors, and particularly the additional sites at subdomain of Bomb. In addition, the growth of the site has put the test to the internal CMS search, and though the server upgrade did increase the speed of query processing, we were still faced with a search engine that was not easy for the users to navigate. In a site this large Autocomplete functions within your site search engine are a necessity. 

Google CSE and Autocomplete

The Bombmagazine website has a minimalist design but incorporates unique and dynamic features. Google branding and outside advertisements were not an option, just a simple autocomplete function and a unique search results page that matches the design of the article search engine. This was all possible via theme/skin modifications, as the Google CSE is not an Iframe, it is injected code that can then be styled by the overriding theme on the site itself. 

Google provides indexing of terms for Autocompletion, but it can take many weeks for this information to present itself in your custom search engine. When dealing with a site with +20k urls, we realized the need to manually import our terms to kick start the js autocomplete function. Fortunately, Google CSE provides the ability to import autocomplete terms. 20,000 is the max # of terms, and they must be imported in XML autocomplete format. 

Results for the Mag

All analytics is then linked with the master analytics account. In the coming weeks and months we’ll be able to glean new information from the search engine. Something that was not being collected through the native site search. We’ve already received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Bomb Magazine staff. Content is easier to find, along with a new Image specific search that provides more granular searches. 

We’ve really only touched the surface of Google CSE here but the effect on UX and site usability cannot be underestimated. In addition to autocomplete, the Google CSE provides the ability to push curated promotional content, advertisements, and more complex faceted searching into the custom solution. It can be tailored to each client.