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Google boosts hosted site search

Google June 3 upgraded its hosted enterprise search software, adding indexing for more content and simplifiying the software's brand.

Formerly known as Custom Search Business Edition, Google Site Search is an enterprise search offering that seeks to be for the business sector what is for consumers: to help business users quickly find information they need to do their work better, or help a site's customers find what they want to purchase.

Google Site Search is one of a batch of enterprise search products flooding the market, including Microsoft's Fast Search and Transfer assets and rival suites from standalone vendors Autonomy, Vivisimo and Endeca.

These vendors are all vying to tap the largely untouched market for business-driven search, which is typically populated by lackluster proprietary products. However, those vendors don't offer hosted search, but on-premise packages customers can buy.

Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management for Google, said Site Search will give users the best of both worlds: hosted search capability that IT administrators needn't maintain because Google runs it in the cloud while letting enterprises control the feature set and customization of the product.

Business searchers can never access enough content about their companies. So, Site Search now indexes more pages, even pages buried deep within a site.

To that end, the new Google Site Search (GSS) index complements the index employed for top-line consumer search, Nitin Mangtani, product manager for Enterprise Search at Google, told eWEEK.

"There are circumstances where Google may not index all of the pages, or we may not be aware of them," Mangtani said. "This is a special index so business customers can tell us what pages we didn't index on and we will do the special indexing for them."

For neutrality's sake, the custom indexing Google does for Site Search customers will not impact the searches customers do on, he added. Search results returned on is still done by Google's ultra-secret search algorithms, while the Site Search index is based on customer requests.

The Google Site Search also now employs synonyms to help webmasters expand the scope of search to include frequently searched terms. For example, a search for GE will also return results for General Electric. Or, a search for "fd" would return "fixed deposits" in search results for financial services-oriented Web sites, Mangtani said.

New date biasing lets site owners influence search results based on the age of documents. For example, a recent product datasheet would be weighted more heavily than product documents from a year ago.

In other "good" biases, Site Search now boasts top results biasing so that specific sections of the site appear at the top of search results.

For example, businesses selling digital cameras can arrange to have the first three results only show results from Sony, Canon, or HP. Or, a webmaster can point the first three results will show only product catalogs.

Google also offers other customization tools in Search Sites, including the option to incorporate the Google brand name and logo on the site (presumably, to let searchers know it's a search engine they can trust), and the choice to not run any ads on the site.

The improved and rebranded Google Site Search comes at a time when enterprise search for most businesses ranges from poor and inefficient to downright lousy or nonexistent, Glotzbach noted.

Google counts customers such as EMC Insignia, (U.S. government business site) TechSmith and eHealth Insurance among its customers.

Google Site Search costs $100 a year for searching up to 5,000 pages; $500 for 5,001 to 50,000 pages; $850 for 50,001 to 100,000 pages; and $2,250 for 100,001 to 300,000 pages. Need more pages indexed? Google says to contact its direct sales team to broker a deal.

Those already using Custom Search Business Edition will immediately begin reaping the benefits of Site Search with no upgrade requirements.

Site Search is also an alternative to Google's on-premise enterprise search devices, Google Search Appliance and Google Mini, both of which offer more control over search and secure access to internal documents. Google upgraded the Mini appliance last week amid unfounded rumors that the company was abandoning the product.

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