Site Search

The typical search solution used for a web site in Campusuite utilizes the Google Custom Search Engine, or "CSE". As you might suspect, we leverage the power of Google search. Most of your site pages are already indexed in the Google search engine. A CSE simply rounds up only your content and serves it back to someone when they search your site.

This is the preferred site search solution today for a variety of reasons. The most significant benefit is that your content is automatically indexed by the Google bot. If you add new content to your site, the Google bot will index and make it so that content is retrievable via your site search. The second benefit is that google "spiders" your site. This is significant because spidering makes it so that all of your content, whether it is a static page, PDF file, or data pulled from your database (such as a news or events) is searchable. Traditional methods to power a search mechanism required much custom programming and additional effort to make all of your content available for search. In a word, Google has perfected searchability and made it available for customers to use the functions on their site.

Setting up a Google CSE

You can easily set up a CSE when you are logged in to your Google account. If your organization has a Googel account, you should be logged in to this one. Once logged in, you can go to http://www.google.com/cse and click "New Search Engine." Follow the steps to complete the info it asks for and you will also specify the domain that you wish to search. This will be your web site live URL, for example www.yourdomain.org.

Once configured, you can grant Innersync admin access to your search engine so that we can get in and complete the configuration for you and implement the search on your site. Just ask your Campusuite representative for the email address in which to share your CSE with.

Important Notes and Caveats

Here are some important things to keep in mind.

  1. Google CSE is free to non-profit organizations. While configuring the CSE, you can specify your tax status. If you are not a non-profit, then you simply have to live with the typical Google sponsored ads on your site (to the top and left of your own search results) 
  2. If ads are a problem for you, it costs $100 per year to have the ads removed from your search results screen. This is something you will set up and pay Google directly.
  3. One small downside of this solution is that your content has to be indexed periodically by the Google bot.  Say you add some new content to a page on your site. That content will not be searchable until the Google bot finds and indexes it. The frequency of when the google bot returns to your site to index your content is something no one has control over. However, we've found it to be very reliable and content is indexed in an acceptable time.

Regarding deploying a new web site

If you have set up a brand new web site in Campus Suite that is preparing to be launched, consider the fact that Google has already indexed your existing content in its engine. So, out of the gate, if someone were to search your site, it would return old pages from your old site... causing search results to have 404 (page not found) errors. This is because those old pages no longer exist on your new website. The new pages need to be indexed and the old URL's need to be dropped.

This is resolved over time (usually two weeks) as the Google bot returns to your site multiple times and indexes your new content. Many customers prefer to have us disable the site search until the search results become more accurate so that people do not lose confidence in your site search function. Better to hide it vs. serving up results that produce a 404 page not found error.

In the end, you will find Google does a pretty good job of dropping your old pages that no longer exist, and adding your new pages. Your site search function (and your results in the Google index at large) become more accurate. It's true there are usually some stubborn links to pages that do not drop out. When these pages are identified, our support team can help you get set up in Google Webmaster tools to allow you to see your website as the Google bot does. These tools can be used to tell Google to purge those stubborn results... among other functions.

In addition, the "Redirect Manager" is a tool in Campus Suite (under your "Settings" tab) that allows you to set up "Redirects" to force cached pages in Googles index to be updated to the new URL you provide. When it is time to re-enable your search engine to the public, simply submit a ticket to Support, and they will turn it back on for you.

The Campus Suite team is always here to assist and answer any questions you have about Google Custom Search Engines and its set-up and implementation on your web site. Just ask us.