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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Using Google Custom Search Engine like a Pro

John Biundo and Eric Enge have a guest post on Google Blogoscoped describing how to finetune Google's Custom Search Engine.

One popular feature is the ability to boost a site's ranking in your custom search engine, but users often find that conventional ways of doing this don't really make much of a difference. Going from page 10 of the search results to page 5 doesn't help too much. Here's a brief excerpt:
In this case, we’ve told Google that we want our CSE to include the entire web (and this is an implicit function, so there’s no need for a label like “FILTER” to include sites), but we want to emphasize certain sites. For the emphasized sites, we’re going to apply the “BOOST” label. You can see that the “BOOST” label also has a “weight” attribute, and the default value for this is “0.69999999”. This brings us back to our initial requirement: how do we assign a higher level of boost to certain pages? It’s pretty obvious that this is going to be done by changing the “weight” attribute, and it turns out that weights can have values between -1.0 and +1.0. Furthermore, a negative weight is used to imply a “demotion,” that will de-emphasize (in the results) URLs that it’s applied to, and a positive weight is a “promotion,” which will emphasize URLs. So the solution to our problem is simple: to get higher boost, we need to set a higher weight on our “BOOST” label.
They also go over labeling, annotation, and filtering in detail. Although advertised as being for advanced users, I think most users can follow along with the tutorial without too much difficulty.


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