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Add Search on My Website
I think many people work in this way and I guess the reason is we have been trained to by Google! The first search engine, Yahoo, originally had a page full of categories. Then along came the minimalist Google and a new verb was invented. People expect to be able to "Google" everything - we don't have time for menu systems.
So the obvious answer to the question, Should I add search on my website is: YES!
I have used Zoom search on all of my websites (the licence covers as many websites as you create) for several years.
zoom search resultsAs you can try the Zoom Search on this website, I will focus on showing you some of the backend options and features. Before I do so, you can get an idea of the power of Zoom Search from the screenshots on the left (click to enlarge).
A noticeable feature is the appearance of icons next to files to indicate the filetype - which means that Zoom Search will not only index normal web pages but also PDFs, PowerPoint and Word Documents - and even Flash.
zoom configuration pageOn the right is the configuration screen (click to enlarge) for how search results should be displayed. You have full control over how your search results appear (on this site I have modified the standard appearance). Note the option to turn highlighting on or off.
You also get an idea of the other options from the Menu on the left. The settings for each of your sites can be saved in a configuration file.
zoom search skipYou may not want every file scanned - for instance, a document uploaded for a client to download. The screen on the left allows you to exclude files or entire folders.
Finally, Zoom Search can provide you with comprehensive charts and reports on the search activity on your website - very useful for refining your niche keywords research. Click on the image below.
zoom search report
The pedigree of Zoom is reinforced by some of the organisations that currently use it.
Zoom Search Customers
Zoom Search Versions
There are a number of Zoom Search versions. All licences allow you to put Zoom Search on an unlimited number of websites and there are no on-going subscription costs. There is even a free version for non-commercial use.
Zoom Search Versions
Why you shouldn't use free Google Custom Search?
If you want to you can add a free search function from Google - but there are downsides:
advertisements appear on the results page - these diminish your brand
clicks on advertisements open in the same window - in other words, they leave your website - you have just provided direct links to your competitors. You do NOT have a choice in this - it is explicitly stated in Google's terms that AdSense links open in the same window.
lack of control over how the results appear
not as professional, in my opinion
You can earn a few cents per click from AdSense but for most businesses this is insignificant to the value of the potential business that has just gone to their competitors.