Google CSE

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Pros & Cons



  • RSS feeds are available only in the business edition.
  • You can't create private search engine (i.e. your search engine will be visible for everybody)


  • Keywords Selection
    • Choose keywords from your search engine title in order to focus your results.
    • Prefer keywords that represent best practice principles rather than sub-topics in order to get quality and up-to-date results.
  • Avoid sub-domains as much as possible in order to broaden your search results and use best practice keywords instead.
  • Working with labels:
    • Use refinement labels as background labels in the context file: Remember that the only difference between refinement and background labels is their position in the context file (i.e. they look the same in the annotation file).
    • In the background labels section, assign negative weight or ELIMINATE mode to the refinement label in order to save real estate space on the first results page (remember that some of the above the fold space is already taken by Google ads).
    • Assign true value to the IgnoreBackgroundLabels attribute in order to cancel the negative filtering.
    • You can use the top attribute in order to make a glimpse to the refinement results.
  • Use tilde (~) in the in order to moderate the keyword filtering of the refinement lables.

Assistant tools

Google's tools

External tools


results don't match keywords setting

remember that Google uses anchor text and other means to enrich the page index.

Autocompletions issues

  • make sure that:
    • you enabled autocompletions
    • you've set your preferences to "Search only included sites" (i.e. filter mode)
    • you updated the code for your search box
  • be aware that:
    • According Google documentation it takes a few hours to see autocompletions in your search box[1](in my experience it takes more than 24 hours)
    • The autocompletions feature depend on websites that you set directly (i.e. if you have only annotation feeds you won't see autocompletions).


Q: I set label with top attribute but I can't see websites with this label on top of the results.
A: Be aware that Google Custom Search displays results from labels on top of the results only if they relevant to the search quarry[2], So you may try to:

  • search with more specific quarry.
  • give higher weight to this label[3].
  • try to use BOOST rather than FILTER attribute.


URL patterns

  • Unless you want to specify only few pages, make sure that:
    • You're pattern have at list one wild-card ('*').
    • You have entered at list one wild-card after the last slash ('/')
    • You chose "URL patterns"


  • Link element with reference to OpenSearch XML file on Google hosted web page.
  • Images custom search


  1. Improving User Queries for More Relevant Results
  2. Changing the Ranking of Your Search Results
  3. Because lower weight make the respective websites "less relevant"

External links