The search function in WordPress works well if visitors have an idea of the content you provide. However, it lacks that special something when people are looking for relevant content to a word or phrase. Luckily, you don’t have to stick with the default search field that comes with WordPress. Using Google Custom Search Engine, you may provide an easier method for people to find your material while making the experience more professional.
What Is a Google Custom Search?
Google Custom Search Engine, also known as CSE, places actual search results from the engine onto your website. When you add Google search to WordPress, essentially you’re giving visitors the power behind the popular engine to find your content. Once you register a free account with Google, you can modify the results page in a myriad of ways. As a result, you deliver a powerful method of searching your site while delivering a custom experience.
Why Use Google Custom Search in WordPress?
Adding Google search to WordPress reduces the load on your site. This is because all of the database queries and interactions happen on Google’s server, not your own. In some instances, the results are more accurate as custom post types and custom fields are ignored when searching for relevant content. It may be important to note that when you set up an account at Google, the system will only pull up your webpages that have been indexed by the search engine.
You can also monetize the experience by activating Adsense for Search. You’ll earn a few cents every time someone clicks on a related ad displayed by Google. However, this means you’ll also show ads for other companies on your website.
Using a Plugin for Google Search
One of the easiest ways to implement Google search into the website is by using plugins. Perhaps one of the best plugins to use is WP Google Search. It takes a lot of the work out of setting up the experience for your users and is easy to install and activate. However, there are a few things you need before any of the search plugins will work. These include:
- Setting up a Custom Search Engine at Google
- Copying the CSE ID from Google to the WordPress Plugin
- Creating a specific page in WordPress to act as your “Results Page”
- Using a widget for searching, which should be used to replace the default search bar for WordPress
- Aiming the results to reflect your results page URL
Using the Code Directly From Google
You don’t have to utilize a plugin in order to use Google Custom Search Engine. In fact, Google will give you the code you need. This means you can implement this service with a simple copy and paste. Here is how it works:
- Create a new search engine at Google CSE
- After making your custom changes, click the button to “Get Code” from the setup screen
- Copy the entire bulk of code Google provides
- Go to your WordPress dashboard and into “Appearance”
- Click on “Widgets”
- Drag a new “Text” widget to where you want to display the search field – this is usually placed in the Sidebar Right area
- Paste the code into the text field and name the widget, “Search”
- Save the widget
This is an easy way to incorporate Google search into your website. However, it doesn’t show the results on your actual site. Instead, the results will open in a pop-up if you use the overlay option. Otherwise, you may want to create a page for searching if you want to use some of the other layouts.
Customizing the Experience
Google Custom Search Engine has a lot of properties you can change to fit your website design. Everything from color schemes to usage statistics is available to enhance the experience. Some of the things you can change include:
- What sites are searched – this can be useful if you have more than one
- Search engine’s description
- Image search
- Speech input
- Whether to search the entire Internet or just your website
- Page layout
- Promotions of your content that show at the top of results
- …and much more
Google search in WordPress will deliver the power of the most popular engine in the world to the hands of your visitors. With the incredible level of customization, you can deliver a unique experience to those who use the system. Take your site further by offering a search platform that is both engaging and highly accurate.
What kind of search abilities do you find useful in WordPress? How often do your visitors actually search for something related to your content from your site?