Back in 2005, topical search was the driving force behind many startups. With qualities like relevancy and targeted audience, topical search engines quickly became the desired object of general search companies like Google or Microsoft. Today, nearly every big search engine incorporate some sort of vertical search in its own interface (e.g. search wikipedia or how stuff works on Google, and you’ll get “vertical” search box on the first result), sometimes even without your knowledge.
However, vertical search engines still have the image of undynamic narrow search engines. This article is meant to show how you can use and create topical search engines without interrupting your workflow.
Before custom search engines were available, site search was the main means to search in specific domains. Today nearly every website have some kind of website search. However their location is not always convenient. Firefox add-on Search Site lets you search within any website you are on right from the search bar. Just select a search engine that supports the site: parameter to search inside this website.
In addition to its support of the site: operator, Yahoo! has an in-site “search suggestions” in the left pane of its search results page. Also in the main page, you can select from the left pane, one of Yahoo’s topical search engines like Yahoo! Health or Yahoo! Finance. Furthermore you can use Yahoo! Shortcuts to search in one of Yahoo’s search engines.
DuckDuckGo is a quasi-command-line interface that lets you search in multiple topical search engines from one search-box. You can also use DuckDuckGo as a “general” search engine. In this case clicking on the more results link or the website icon will yield results that relevant to your query from the website domain.
Search in more than one domain can be somewhat awkward (i.e. foo site:1.example OR site:2.example OR site:3.example etc). Custom search platforms can solve this issue , but they usually required registration. However Rollyo lets you search simultaneously in up to 25 websites without the need for registration. When you create a new “searchroll”, Rollyo automatically creates a pseudo username and adds this searchroll to your dashboard. In addition, you can create searchrolls and add them to your firefox search bar on the fly.
Althogh Gigablast have a convenient way to search in multiple domains, its main advantage is the possibility to search in websites that appears within specific category on DMOZ directory. Also you can restrict your query to specific domain from the search results page by clicking the more from this site link.
Yahoo + Delicious
Google + Delicious
Google Custom Search on the Fly made it possible to customize Google with your Delicious bookmarks without the need for registration (Also deliGoo add-on made it easy to customize your results based on Delicious bookmarks, but it is not available for Firefox 3.0 or later). However one problem with Custom Search OTF is that it searches only in partial sites, e.g., if it gets the bookmark http://example.com/blog it will search web-pages only in the blog section or path. Another problem is that if it gets specific web-page it will return only this web-page, i.e., it will return other web-pages from the same path.
Thus, in order to search in whole websites we will have to manipulate somehow Delicious bookmarks, and a great platform for this purpose is Yahoo! Pipes. So here is my own solution for searching within whole websites based on your Delicious tags. Just enter your username and the desirable tag, and you will get an RSS feed with domain names (i.e. whole websites). Past this RSS to the URL box on Google webpage and you’ll get a new custom search engine on the fly!