Update – 7/28/2012: Apparently the SearchNetworkHQ.com now forwards to the MySEOTool website.

Search Network has figured out a pretty good angle on the whole free software thing. They have built a search engine script that is completely free to download so you’re able to either add search functionality to your site or (I’m assuming) you can run it as a stand alone search engine as well, customizing it however you choose.

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This is how I understand their operation from the rather skimpy documentation on the site. You download and install their free software to run your own search engine on your domain. Your search results (no idea if your results are urls added by you or if its a feed) display ads that Search Network has sold and if any sales are made through your site, you earn 20% of the sale. I’m not sure if you can sell your own advertising in addition to theirs, but something tells me you cannot.

This affiliate program sounds like it definitely benefits Search Network a lot more than the person running the individual search engine. By giving away this software, they are creating a massive sales force to display all the ads they sell for a monthly fee starting at $59 a month. On top of the monthly income, I’d have to surmise they receive a portion of the affiliate profits as well.

It might be ideal for someone wanting to add a search to his site and maybe make a few bucks in the process, but for someone serious about creating his own search engine and earning money from advertising, I believe it would be much better to go with a platform where you have more control over the ads.

There’s a tons of commercial search engines out there to choose from and a few free ones as well. By going with another script, you won’t have that network of built in advertisers that the Search Network has created for you, but you will definitely have more control over your ads. This translates to higher earnings down the road when you are able to obtain your own site advertisers.

Perhaps there’s a lot more to it that I’m missing, but if that’s the case, there really should be some additional documentation on the website to explain how everything works in detail. The way it looks from where I’m sitting, it looks like a pass, but I’ve also been spoiled by both free and easy with Sphider.