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Google Adds Features to Custom Search Engines

Google has announced enhanced features for custom search engines: the integration of sitemaps and AdSense for Search.

The new features will improve search results in a Google custom search engine for your site if you utilize sitemaps:

Custom Search is built on top of the Google index. This means that all pages that are available on are also available to your search engine. We’re now maintaining a CSE-specific index in addition to the index for enhancing the performance of search on your site. If you submit a Sitemap, it’s likely that we will crawl those pages and include them in the additional index we build.

Additionally, AdSense for Search will now be powered by Google Custom Search. As part of this integration, Google says that “you can take advantage of CSE’s most popular features without having to leave your AdSense account.” If you’re new to Google CSE, features of the integration include:

  • Site Search
  • Improved indexing of your pages
  • Vertical search
  • Tuning search results and ads with keywords
  • Selecting ad location
  • Quick and easy updates

Google explains the changes further in a short video:

Now, I know what you’re thinking—and so does Matt Cutts. He’s already posted this caveat on his blog:

this is not a backdoor way to get more pages in Google’s index or to improve your search ranking. The official blog post mentions that. But I think this is a win for webmasters all around. If you use AdSense for search, the product is now better and more tweakable. And if you provide a sitemap, your custom search can get much better as those urls are incorporated into a CSE-specific index.

One drawback: right now it looks as though existing CSE users may have to recreate their custom search engines in AdSense to take advantage of the new AdSense for Search integration. But other than that (or despite it), is this more likely to make you want to jump on board?