I run a niche search engine on one of my websites using the free Sphider search software. It has served me very well so far, but whenever I feel like I need something more feature rich and developed, I always find myself poking around the feature list for the Inout Search Engine software.
The front end demo looks a bit snazzier than my fairly vanilla Google-esque looking search page that has nothing more than a logo, a search box, and a few text links. Inout has all that too, but they also can display as many custom “engines” (web, images, video, news, etc.) as you want, in up to fourteen different languages.
As for the results, you can easily integrate and display Yahoo, Google, Bing, and YouTube into your search engine. You can also connect to Twitter, iTunes, and a job search function too. (It doesn’t say which jobs database it uses) It has a plethora of other expected search engine features such as suggesting related search keywords, thumbshot option for each result, show search keywords in bold, html code to paste search box on other sites, mobile search support, presentational display options, and more.
The one thing that I’ve longed for that the Inout Search Engine has is the ability to generate revenue by connecting to the Ebay and Amazon affiliate API. I imagine you could create a custom auction or books engine and have every result loaded with your affiliate code. I do the same thing here with the Reviewazon WordPress plugin (that is on tap to be posted soon by the way), but I’ve never had this same ability to do so in my search results.
For everything this script provided, there was always one reason why I continued to stick with my stripped down open source search software over this feature rich commercial model with everything already built into it. That reason was a search spider. My current search software included a spider that I could send off to specific websites to index and include in my search results so I could ensure my niche results stayed relevant.
The Google and Bing engine results are great if you’re trying to be everything to everyone, but that’s not what I wanted. I’d rather target a specific group or niche and provide pertinent information for those searches. Why reinvent the wheel, right? Google is the wheel. I’ll just customize the wheel the way I want it (and the way I believe my visitors want it) to hopefully provide a better user experience that way.
For all I wanted with the Inout Search Engine, I just couldn’t entertain the leap without the ability to micromanage the control of my results, but that changed when the Inout Scripts company introduced the Inout Spider. Yes, now I could do the very same thing with Inout Search that I currently do with Sphider, which is keep my results lean and laser targeted to what my site’s topic is all about.
I’d say the only thing keeping me from moving forward on this right now is time, but I can definitely see this one being in the cards for a future search engine website redesign project.