You’ve all by now seen the Google Custom Search application. If not go check it out, there are some really cool things you can do with it. Via the Google custom search blog, they have just added some cool collaboration features. You may now view what sites other contributors have added to your engine, and they’re email address as well. I imagine this might cut down on some unscrupulous additions. From the blog:
Starting today, you’ll be able to communicate more easily with new volunteers for your Custom Search Engine — you’ll see the email addresses of new volunteers as well as approved contributors. It’s important to note that this process works both ways — i.e., if you volunteer to contribute to a search engine, your email address will also be visible to the creator of the search engine. To see the email addresses of contributors simply go to the “Collaboration” section of the “Control Panel” of your search engine and you will see a list of contributors emails there. You will also get email notification when your invitee accepts your invitation to contribute to your Custom Search Engine. Last but certainly not least, you can now also see the sites your contributors have added to your search engine. Visit the “Sites” tab in the “Control Panel” to see what work your contributors are doing. If you have several contributors, you’ll have a drop-down menu to select which contributor you’d like to view.
But let’s talk about the opportunities that exist right now with Google Custom Search applications. This niche is wide open and thus far I haven’t seen many people taking advantage of it. You could quickly build an authority site using custom search. Say for example, you’re the first to market with a mountain biking search engine. You could build a custom site that only searches mountain bike resources. Build it around some other features, maybe a forum or some other extras. Allow community collaboration so your users can add sites to your engine. Do it correctly and you could generate some linkbait quickly. Using the AJAX search API gives you total control of how the results are displayed, and you can throw in some really cool widgets with it. Google has some featured examples here. In my opinion these are very basic examples that could use a lot of work. The functionality works fine, the presentation sucks on most of them.
Jump in on the custom search and see if you can get a few strong authority sites rolling. I know I’m working on mine and I’ll update when I get it launched.