Google Custom Search Engine

By joshuaaajoshuaaa (1261281441|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

When the words "Google" and "Custom" are combined to describe a single tool, you would think it has to be pretty close to the perfect research tool. It is really only as good as you make it, though. Your custom search engine only works with the information you tell it to search, so a quality GCSE begins with quality websites that you must choose.

My Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE) Experience

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Yes, I fell for it. When I heard we were going to make a custom search engine, hosted by Google, I was very excited that I would finally have the tool that would do my work for me.

Fail. Well, sort of.

Google custom search engines are not automated robots that you simply sign-up for, type in a few keywords, and let loose on the cyber-world. You pretty much have to already know where you want your information to come from. Google doesn't do your searching for you (that's basically what regular Google is for), but rather, your GCSE searches the websites and pages that you tell it to search.

So What's the Point?

Believe it or not, you can STILL benefit from using a tool that requires some effort on your part. Actually, you probably benefit even more from the extra research you must put in when constructing your GCSE. Due to the fact that we learned about custom search engines halfway through the semester in BIT330, I had already amassed a number of resources that I kept track of via RSS feeds, page monitors, email alerts, etc., meaning that I already had a pretty good idea of what websites/web pages would be/are helpful. These are the sites/pages that I have included in my GCSE. A lot of the websites from which I receive RSS feeds are included, as well as some pages that do not have an RSS function (my GCSE is particularly helpful for these, as page monitors can sometimes be difficult to deal with).

You've already found the sites… what good does the search engine do you now?

What if you are looking for a particular piece of news regarding a single player in the Parcel Delivery Industry (for example, how the United Parcel Service is now involved with the 2012 Olympics in London). Instead of going through each of your resources, which in my case would be seventeen separate websites, and searching for that piece of information, I can simply submit a query into my GCSE.

Query: [UPS + london + olympics].

I could go through those seventeen websites and try to find the results I am looking for… but what about Joe Shmo who has no idea what sites I've included in my GCSE? He'd pretty much be in the dark as to what sites to look for on his own (because he was dumb and took the teamwork in organizations elective instead of BIT330). The power of my custom search engine increases for Joe, as it can cut down the time he spends looking aimlessly information about his particular topic by making the fact that he has no idea what he is doing irrelevant. Anyone can, and probably does, use Google (or Yahoo!, or Bing, you know what I mean) for their random searches about anything and everything; since Joe has a question relating particularly to the parcel delivery industry, though, instead of going to basic Google he can go to my custom search engine instead and retrieve the relevant results he needs.

The picture below is a screenshot of the results Joe would receive using my GCSE with the query mentioned above. While there are only 4 results, they appear to be very relevant and capable of answering Joe's question successfully.

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Sites Included In My GCSE

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http://postalreporternews.com/
http://citizenshipblog.fedex.designcdt.com/
http://blog.uspsoig.gov/
http://www.browncafe.com/
http://bit330joshuaaa.wikidot.com/
http://blog.uspsoig.gov/
http://fedex.com/us/services/
http://customcritical.fedex.com/
http://fedex.com/us/office/
http://www.ftn.fedex.com/index.shtml
http://fedex.com/us/freight/main/
http://fedex.com/us/ground/main/
http://fedex.com/us/express/main/
http://fedex.com/us/
http://www.usps.gov
http://www.usps.com
http://www.ups.com

Conclusion

My Google Custom Search Engine is proving to be somewhat helpful. I don't think I've used it quite enough to grasp how potentially useful it can be, and for now all I can say is that I hope it continues to help me in my search adventures. While it requires some independent effort and research, and doesn't give you all the answers that we've come to expect from Google, these facts should not dissuade anyone from at least creating their own custom search engine and giving it a whirl.

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