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Choose the Service For You
Once you've decided to add search to your site, you may be having some
technical difficulties. Perhaps your site is hosted on a large server
somewhere, or you have an uncooperative web administrator, or the challenges
of adding a CGI are too daunting. Never fear! You can outsource your search
to a remote site search service and let someone else worry about
the gory details.
The indexer and search engine run on the remote server: they will use
a web indexing robot, or spider, to follow links on your site and
read the pages, then store every word in the index file on that server.
When it comes time to search, the form on your local Web page send a message
to the remote search engine. Although it's going through the Web, process
doesn't change -- it just has to move a little farther. The remote search
engine takes the search terms, matches the words in the index, sorts them
according to relevance, and creates an HTML page with the results. When
a searcher clicks on the result link, they will see the page from your
site, just as though the search came from there. It's easy and painless
for practically everyone.
This review covers the range of remote search services, their features
and their drawbacks. It will teach you to prepare your site, try indexing
it, test the search, customize the results, keep the search up to date,
and choose the right program for your long-term needs.
What You Get With Remote Search Services
- No need for server access
- Even if your site is hosted and you have FTP access only, you
can run a search engine.
- No need to learn CGIs or server systems.
- You never need to install any software, worry about version compatibility,
or learn about permissions and paths (or paying someone else to
- Easy administration
- The remote search service will provide a set of Web pages for
administration, rather than making you learn about command lines
or config files.
- No load on your server.
- Search engines require significant resources, such as CPU time
during researching and retrieval, as well as disk space. Outsourcing
to a remote server moves the load away from you. In addition, these
servers are usually in data centers with excellent connectivity
and 24/7 administration
- Minimal initial investment
- Instead of paying for a search engine up front, you can pay a
small monthly fee. Some services are free, showing advertising with
the search results.
- Easy to switch
- If you aren't happy with your search service, it's easy to switch
- Advertising or continuing costs
- You must pay every month or allow your searchers to see other
- Less control over the indexing
- If your data changes frequently (hourly or daily), most of these
services will not index that often.
- Dependent on outside service
- If the service's search engine gets busy, it may delay responses
for your site, and there's not much you can do.
- Less capacity
- The remote search services have a page limit, although some will
index hundreds of thousands of pages.
- Fewer special features
- Each search engine has its own special features, but you have
more choices if you plan to run your own engine. For example, some
have problems indexing password-protected areas, or word processing
file formats, adding a thesaurus or a spellchecker, etc.
- Intranet privacy
- Intranets (internal networks using standard software) want to
keep control of all their data, rather than allowing access external
- Multi-site indexing
- Most remote services allow you to index just the sites you control.
With a local search engine, you can index other sites and create
a public search portal.
Remote Site Search Services Covered
Disclaimer: Search Tools Consulting has worked with Atomz, MondoSearch
and SearchButton, however we do not allow this to influence our reviews.
The following services are covered in this review, and also have pages
and examples on this site.