Search Engines

Inout Search Engine Ultimate

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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.

Search Network Free Search Engine

Update – 7/28/2012: Apparently the 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.

PHP Link Directory

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I decided to buy php link directory at a time when I was getting tired of my Smarter Search pay per click search engine, but hadn’t found Sphider yet. I needed a change. I decided I was not completely ready to delete the search engine just yet, so instead I bought the .net and .org versions of my website and installed the php link directory on one of them. I’m not sure what version I had, but my site looked different than the demos I’m seeing on the php link directory site today. My site ended up looking like a pretty basic search engine with the only exception being the fact that I had cool little graphical thumbnails displaying a miniature version of the website in the listing. I liked it in a ho hum kind of way. It was new, it was different, but it just didn’t do it for me. I ended up deleting the script after a couple months and forwarding both domain names to my primary dot com site.

It looks like there is now article integration into the script. If I had that functionality, I don’t remember it at all. That’s pretty decent to combine those two, but I still feel very unenthusiastic about the whole functionality of the script. You’ve got your categorized links, and when one is clicked, you get the display similar to that of a search engine. Okay, why not just use a search engine. I think people are so used to searching for sites via a search engine that it’s tough to sell them the link farm idea. So it has articles now, which is great, but why not find a stand alone article directory site with more features instead of it being a feature of a link directory script. I’m pretty happy with my Article Friendly site which I’ve added on to my search engine, so there’s just no competition there.

I will say that having the ability to rate a site is pretty cool. Another thing that’s decent is for a commercial script, the price is really cheap. It’s only $30 if you don’t mind leaving the link back to the site. The price with the link removed is $80 which still isn’t that bad. I always pay to remove the copyright or the link back because I’m not trying to further along the brand of the company I’m purchasing from, I’m trying to create my own.

I don’t mean to be so harsh on this script because if you’re into link directories, I think php link directory is the way to go. I just have a hard time getting excited when I’m personally not impressed with the whole idea. They must be doing something right over there since they boast of having about 100,000 sites running php link directory. With a huge community like that, you’re going to have more support, theme, and mod options, which enables the hack (like me) to find the perfect look and setup the site just how you want it.

Smarter Scripts Search Engine Software

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After doing a half assed search for a pay per click search engine script back in 2004, I settled on one called Smarter Search from a site called I did not even know how to install and configure scripts at the time so I hired someone to do the install and some basic customizing over at Scriptlance. I actually heard that this freelancer site was run by the same people that owned Smarter Scripts, and it was launched using the freelancer script they sold on that site.

Anyway, the script was a complete bare bones job. It was able to incorporate feeds from other search engines as well as have people submit their own sites, but unfortunately people were required to sign up first. They could still have a free listing by setting their pay per click bid amounts for keywords to zero, but nobody wanted to bother and I can’t blame them. So it was basically a feed engine, and one with a pretty ugly back end too.

The administration area was 99% text, so if people did sign up, it was really dull and unprofessional looking. This was not the right script to buy not knowing much about coding or designing. I was able to learn on the go using that script by sprucing things up with a little color and alignment here and there. If I had to do it all over again, I would not choose this script for my search engine.

Their customer support was pretty bad too. They had a forum that was never posted to by support and if you got an email back after contacting support, it sounded like a fifteen year old wrote it. I heard similar (and worse) support stories from the sister site Scriptlance.

I had gone back to Smarter Scripts recently just to see what was still there and it looked like had purchased them. However, as of this posting, the website is no longer. It goes nowhere, not even a forward to another site. I guess they changed their mind about their acquisition.

I have since moved on to the Sphider search software and am much happier with it. Although the software is just as stripped down, I’m more knowledgeable today than I was then, and I also knew what I was getting into with Sphider, but not with Smarter Search. If you’re going to download a script that is not very well designed or developed, learn from my mistakes and don’t pay for it. Go open source.

Sphider Search Engine Software

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Sphider is a PHP search engine that you can either add to your existing site or use as a stand alone search engine. It’s small, easy to install, and not complicated at all to set up. I have probably spent more time with this script than most of the others out there because I still run a site that uses Sphider. I started out using a pay per click search engine in 2004 with a commercial script called Smarter Scripts, and in 2007 I moved to Sphider and I like it so much more.

The best part about Sphider is that it’s a real search engine that will index whatever sites you choose. Some of the commercial options out there are nothing more than feed engines instead of true search engines. You borrow and display the search results from Google, MSN, and DMOZ and perhaps some affiliate feeds like RevenuePilot and Searchfeed to hopefully make a few dollars here and there, but none of it is your own. Sphider give you greater control over your database by allowing you to approve or deny which sites are allowed.

It has some standard settings you would expect such as results per page, minimum word length in order to be indexed, or required number of words on a page for it to be indexed. Then there’s a couple other simply yet effective ones that I particularly like such as the Sphider Suggest feature that will pop up a number of related keywords as you type your search phrase. There is also a small section called Weights in which you can select how important search aspects are in your search results. For example, if you felt that the most important keywords are found in the title of a web page, you can set the weight of words in web page titles to be very high. This would give precedence to those sites when a keyword or phrase was searched for that matched it’s page title.

There’s a statistics section for you to find your top keywords, most popular searches, number of sites, largest indexed pages and more. I personally like to view the searches people perform and also monitor the time it takes to kick out the results. I did notice that if the results show that there were zero pages returned, it takes a very long time. I’m not a database guy so I’m not sure, but perhaps it’s because it’s searching the entire database and still coming up empty. Regardless, I’m still very happy with my Sphider site and continue to add to it all the time.

There might be prettier search sites out there since Sphider is pretty stripped down, but I like a lot of white space. I’d rather figure out how to add or change something than how to remove it entirely. This search software is ridiculously simple to learn and the possibilities of niche search site implementation is virtually endless. If you’ve ever considered organizing all your favorite bookmarks for that hobby of yours and offering them to the public, a Sphider search engine is your perfect solution.