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Let visitors search your blog

Need a powerful internal search engine script to allow visitors to search the contents of your site? Check out these free services. You will learn how to add search to your site without any complexing programming and without paying any money.

Weblogs (or Blogs) have changed the way people surf the internet. It is perhaps the best platform to publish your thoughts to the world. Blogs could be focused on one topic or may contain totally unrelated writings. One day he may write about the lated HD-DVD technology and the next moment he may tell you how her two year old son at the milk meant for the cat.

Agreed, you are an amazing writer. But what if your visitors can't find what you wrote about Firefox hacks few days back. Millions of bloggers exists all over the world who attract millions and millions of viewers everyday looking for breaking news, tricks ....

Blogs show around 5-10 recents posts on the main page and the rest older ones are hidden in the archives. Some blogging software support "Categories" and "Related Posts" but Google Blogger users are not that lucky.

If you're operating a five page family site for your ancestors and present family members, then you don't need site search. But if any site deals with several topics, adding search capability is a must requirement. Visitors can quickly find what interests them else they will just wander aimlessly through your site and leave it after just a few click never to return.

There are hundred different ways to add search to your site but I will try to mention only those that are free and hosted on the search provider. And you don't require any rocket science to incorporate these search scripts into your site. Blogger service users may even use them as a hack to add categories just like MoveableType does. Once you add the search to your weblog, your readers will be able to search your site for specific keywords.

Enough of introduction now, let's look at my favorite companies that provide site search:

1. Google - Search and Google are synonmous. If you want visitors to find things easily within your web pages, add Google Free site search as well as web search. Google offers tons of customization like changing logos, text colors, background URL. The only problem with Google is frequency at which Google spiders your site. If Google doesn't index your site completely, visitors will return empty-handed even though your blog may have the content they are looking for. My personal experience says that Google doesn't spider blogs very well.

2. Picosearch - Pico is great for small sites as the free version allows upto 100 pages to be indexed. You can start indexing manually and they send you an email with the indexing stats. But if you are into heavy blogging, read on.

3. Freefind - A very customizable product with maximum features. The free version of Freefind indexes three thousand pages or 32 MB of storage, so it suits most of the blogs. Freefind supports PDF file indexing, generates a sitemap for you and it shows complete search reports, including top keyword counts and recently performed searches. Each time your web site changes the FreeFind spider will visit your site and build an index of your pages.

4. Blogdigger - It will solve all the blog searching requirements. For best results, make sure your blog pings Blogdigger each time it is updated. I am very impressed with the Blogdigger results. They provide XML feeds for the results. Undoubtedly, Blogdigger is the best tool for searching blogs. The results contain even the recent entries and the results page is clean and simple.

5. MSN - This works very much like Google site specific search and you still remain at the mercy of the MSN spider.

6. Yahoo! - Now you can also add the Yahoo! Search box to your web site! Yahoo! reserves the right to place advertisements on all Yahoo! Search result pages. But again, make sure that Yahoo! spider crawls your website.

7. Technorati - The most popular service now allows you to add search to your site with the Technorati Searchlet! Just copy the code below and paste it into your blog template, perhaps in a nice sidebar. The searchlet is in beta. Your blog must be listed in the Technorati database and only members get to add the searchlet. This is the coolest service of all and I use it as a hack to add categories to my blogger blog. Look in the right sidebar and view the source code to see the code hack.

Now let's get down to some coding. Almost all of them work the same way, they provide you with an HTML code snippet that usually consists of a search box and an input button. That's all the programming knowledge you need. You add this code to your blog's homepage to provide your readers with a quick way of searching your past posts. Believe me, it's that simple. When a visitor searches your site, the query is sent to the search company.

Make sure that you read the terms and conditions of these search companies before incorporating them into your site. Google doesn't want you to mess around with their logo. "Only we get to do that". If you are using the Google logo on a web page, there must exist a minimum spacing of 25 pixels between each side of the logo and other graphic or textual elements on your web page.

Read Google Guidelines, Google Terms of Service, MSN Terms of Use, Microsoft Do's and Don't page, Yahoo! Terms of Service, Technorati Terms. Always good to be safe than sorry if someone decides to remove your site from their index for violation of terms.

Enough of legal talk, let's do some coding here. Based on what service you plan to use, add the corresponding snippet to your main page or template.

<!-- Site search from Freefind -->
<form method="GET" action="" target="_self">
<input type="hidden" name="id" value="12345"/>
<input type="hidden" name="mode" value="ALL"/>
<input type="hidden" name="n" value="0"/>
<input type="hidden" name="pageid" value="r"/>
<input type="text" name="query" size="15"/>
<input type="submit" value="Find"/>

<!-- Site search from Blogdigger -->
<form method="GET" action="">
<input type="text" name="q" />
<input type="hidden" name="site" value="YOUR DOMAIN NAME"/>
<input type="hidden" name="sortby" value="date"/>
<input type="submit" value="Dig It!"/>

<!-- Site search from Google -->
<FORM method=GET action="">
<input type=hidden name=ie value=UTF-8>
<input type=hidden name=oe value=UTF-8>
<A HREF="">
<IMG SRC="" border="0" ALT="Google"></A>
<INPUT TYPE=text name=q size=31 maxlength=255 value="">
<INPUT type=submit name=btnG VALUE="Google Search">
<input type=hidden name=domains value="YOUR DOMAIN NAME">
<input type=hidden name=sitesearch value="YOUR DOMAIN NAME">

<!-- Site search from MSN - Add MSN Search to your website -->
<form method="get" action="">
<input type="hidden" name="cp" value="1252" />
<input type="text" name="q" size="30" />
<input type="submit" value="Search Site" />
<input type="hidden" name="q1" value="site:YOUR DOMAIN NAME" />

<!-- Yahoo! Search - Add Yahoo! Search to your site -->
<form method=get action="">
<input type="text" name="p" size=19 style="margin-top: 10px">
<input type="hidden" name="vs" id="ysvs21" value="YOUR DOMAIN NAME">
<input type="hidden" name="fr" value="yscpb">
<input type="submit" value="Search">
<!-- End Yahoo! Search -->

<!-- Technorati Searchlet - Add Technorati Search to your site -->
<form method="get" action="">
<input type="hidden" name="sub" value="searchlet" />
<input type="text" name="url" maxlength="255" value="" />
<input type="hidden" name="from" value="YOUR DOMAIN HERE" />
<input type="submit" value="Search" />

Remember to replace the words "YOUR DOMAIN NAME" with your own website's actual domain name. The above code may violate the agreement in some cases as I just try to put miniumum amount of code. Feel free to customize the HTML to your heart's desire. You can add a style tag to the FORM element and modify the margins in CSS to get a layout you want (e.g. style="margin-top:4px; margin-bottom:20px;") and also play with the widths of the textbox and button. Research shows that maximum web surfers look for a search box at the top right corner of a page.