Why You Need Your Own Custom Search Engine – and How to Make One

As I’ve dived more and deeper into the layers of SEO (search engine optimization), I’ve realized what a rabbit hole it is – and how much fun it can be, too! One of my new favorite parts of it is the custom search engine because it’s a quick, easy, painless way to do so many wonderful things all at the same time. It’s seriously awesome. So, if you’re into blogging, you need to make sure you read this – and get your own CSE set up.

Why You Need Your Own Custom Search Engine (or CSE)

Okay, so first let’s talk about WHY the custom search engine is awesome. Ready? Oh, wait… we’ll do that in a second. First, we need to talk about what a CSE is.

What is a CSE?? (Custom Search Engine)

If you’re asking what a CSE is, you aren’t alone. It’s a tool that is severely underutilized – probably because most people forget it’s an option. Here’s what it is – Google lets you build your own search engine – from whatever list of websites you want to include. It’s also 100% free. FREE. All you need is a Google account – and to have your Search Console set up. We’ll talk about the how-to’s here in a few minutes, though. For now, let’s get back into the why you need this.

1. You improve your readers’ experience by linking to related content.

The most important reason you need this custom search engine is to improve your reader’s experience. When they’ve finished your article, the goal is always that you’ve scratched that itch. You’ve answered their question, and they’re ready to move on. However, that’s not always the case. Maybe they want to read more on that topic. Or perhaps they want to read a related piece. So throughout your piece (and/or at the end of it, as is appropriate), weave in links to related, appropriate articles.

By doing so, you’re improving the user experience. And Google loves it when you do that, so they’re gonna give you a boost in your SEO.

2. Improve your SEO by linking to related content.

When you link to related content, you’re doing more than making the readers’ experience awesome. You’re also telling the bots what your article is about. In other words, linking to related content is giving you another added boost to your SEO.

That’s +10 points to Gryffindor, y’all.

3. Linking also helps you build your tribe.

As a blogger, having a tribe is hugely important. And it’s not just about support, although that’s amazingly awesome.

When you’ve got a tribe, you’re doing more than promoting each others’ posts on social media. You’re also hand-selecting people whose content you love. And, as such, you should be proud to share it on your blog posts.

In other words, your tribemates are going to be the perfect place to turn when you need those outbound links to improve your readers’ experience on your blog. And as you find your tribe, you’re going to link to them more and more often.

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Need help finding your tribe? I recommend you check out my favorite eBook (on Amazon) on how to find the tribe that’s perfect for you – and will skyrocket your blog.

4. Backlinks are awesome – and now they aren’t hard to get.

If you’ve ever thought about paying somebody for backlinks, forget that thought right now. It’s no bueno on so many levels, the main one being that Google says NO WAY. Plus, it’s underhanded and dicey. So don’t do it.

However, now that you’re linking to your tribemates on a regular basis, they’re going to see how awesome this is. They’re going to see what kind of traffic you’re sending their way. But that’s not all – they’re also going to start seeing how your traffic goes up even when you’re sending them traffic – because you’re focused on your reader and their needs! Okay, that and Google’s own algorithm, but still.

Your tribemates are going to want to reciprocate – and so they’re going to start linking to your awesome, related content on their blogs. Why? Because it boosts everyone’s stats! BOOM. You’ve gotten backlinks, the legitimate, awesome, user-experience-minded way.

5. You can use a custom search engine to enhance searches on your site

Okay, so this is a more advanced reason to use a CSE. As such, the how-to tutorial won’t cover this. But, it can be a great addition to your website (especially as you get lots of posts published!) to make searches a whole lot easier on your readers. And, it’ll look like a regular Google search, so it’s visually-appealing and familiar.

All right – now you know why a custom search engine is awesome. It’s time to make one!

How to Make Your Very Own CSE

Making your own CSE is super simple. It can be done in just a few minutes. Here’s how you do it, in song form! Okay, no. No singing. But definitely in video format. (Oh, and if you’d prefer just to read the instructions, scroll down. They’re down below the video. You’re welcome!)

For those who prefer to read, here’s how you make your own CSE:

  1. Make a list of the blogs that you want to be included in your custom search engine.
  2. Go to Google’s Custom Search page.
  3. Click “Add”
  4. Start by adding the first site to your search engine (when in doubt, I recommend starting with your own blog)
  5. Check the language preference.
  6. Name your CSE – mine is the very original “My Tribe”
  7. Click Create.

Once it’s created, you can add more sites to the custom search engine. On the left-hand side, it should now give you the option to “edit search engine”. Just select your CSE and scroll down to the bottom. There’s an “ADD” button near the bottom. Click that, add in the websites, and hit “SAVE”. Boom. You’re done.

There are other settings you can mess with, but this gets you through the gist of the whole thing. If you want to know more about the settings, watch the video. Because this is long. And my toddler is begging me to watch Moana again. So, you’re welcome.

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Kimberly C. Starr

I'm a ginger who loves reading, eating, being a nurse, spending time with my family, and writing about it all. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos. To read more about me, click here.

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