Google Tweaks Hosted Site Search, Updates Mini

Ann All

Google appears to have larger enterprise aspirations for its hosted site search. Though the product was largely geared toward SMBs when the search giant introduced it last July, it's now adding a number of features that may increase its appeal for larger companies as well.


It also has a new name. Formerly known as Custom Search Business Edition, it's now Google Site Search. As eWEEK relates, it will allow companies to customize their searches by submitting a sitemap to boost the number of pages within a site that Google Site Search will index, many of which may not have been detected in the earlier iteration of the product.


Webmasters can now also submit synonyms to guarantee more complete results. So, for example, users searching with the term GE would also get hits for General Electric. And Webmasters can weight results based on the date of the content or which area of a site it resides.


Users can opt to include Google branding or do without. And they don't have to serve up any Google ads on their sites.


Current customers can begin using the new features with no upgrades required, thanks to the software-as-a-service model employed to deliver the service, reports eWEEK. The cost is $100 a year for up to 5,000 pages, ranging up to $2,250 for up to 300,000 pages.


Despite recent rumors that Google would abandon its Mini search appliance, the product has also been upgraded, according to The Washington Post. Thanks to its improvements in Site Search, Google believes companies will increasingly employ the Mini for behind-the-firewall content while using Site Search for other instances. The company hinted that a SaaS offering that could search private company data may be eventually offered.


Despite IT Business Edge blogger Art Cole's contention that appliances, including the Mini, are the "new workhorse" of the enterprise, the model has its limitations. Theresa Regli, a principal with the CMS Watch advisory firm, told me in a December interview that appliances are sold as a low-maintenance product that costs less than SaaS. However, she cautions, they generally don't perform well in complex environments.


Thus far, Google has struggled a bit, says Regli:

There's corporate pressure from above. You've got the CIO maybe saying, "I want this to work like Google. So why don't we just buy Google?" The reputation is probably getting them more business than they deserve, at a scale they aren't yet ready to handle. I think there are people in middle management who realize the limitations of the technology. There are a lot of ways to execute search, and different search needs; one size doesn't fit all. That's the challenge that enterprises are facing.

Of course, Google isn't the only company trying to meet multiple enterprise search challenges. Google nemesis Microsoft, with its acquisition of FastSearch and Transfer and its tweaks to Search Server 2008 Express, appears to be trying to cover as many of the search bases as possible.

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