waking up to Google custom search engines

Maybe I’m the last person to find out about this, but a friend recently told me how he uses Google custom search engines to tailor his searching to sites that he knows contain content that is good and/or useful to him. This is especially relevant when you want to do targeted searching in a specific subject area, or for a specific type of content, like film reviews or recipes. The one million benefits of creating custom search engines were immediately obvious to me, and I’m still wondering why I haven’t really heard of anyone using this before. I’m sure people do. They were probably just keeping it secret?

Anyways, I started my first custom search engine today. It’s called “la France en ligne” and currently searches a number of French cultural sites, library webpages, email list archives, digital exhibitions and online collections hosted at various universities and museums. I’m planning on adding more to it, but I was so anxious to try it out I had to stop after 20 URLs. Still, the results are pretty impressive as far as relevance goes. I did two sample searches, one for “George Sand” and another for “Robespierre” and got pretty great results. Try it and tell me what you think?

I definitely want to create one for recipes, where I can limit my searching just to the blogs I know post good and healthy foods I’m likely to want to make. And I’m also thinking an image search engine could be really great. I would be interested in hearing about any custom search engines others have used and what makes them special!