The Art of Building A Google Custom Search Engine – Part 2: Searching the Entire Web

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Nov 22, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

After countless hours list diving with various strings using filetype, list, and inanchor operators, I found some strings I like to use regularly. However, when I attempted to build a custom search engine (CSE) around the concepts, the search would yield no results.

Thanks to the Facebook comments of Irina Shamaeva and Dave Galley, I was able to unlock the answer and comprehend where I went wrong. I can’t say enough about the Facebook sourcing groups, they are a wonderful resource to resolve sourcing problems and drive understanding into realms never imagined.

Regardless, the point is you have to build the CSE a different way. Here’s a quick overview in how to search the entire web, which is necessary when you want to carry a certain syntax over several sites (as in the case of a list finder).

First, you’ll need to log into a Gmail account and go here to get started:

Click on “New Search Engine” up at the top of the page.

Enter any website as a site to search (this will change later but Shamaeva used the example of using a .com top-level domain).


Click the “Create” button.

Click Public URL and save it for later (this will be your direct link to the CSE).


Optional Step (Cosmetic):

-Click Edit Search Engine.

-Change look and feel to full width (easier to manage).

-Click save!


Setting the CSE to Search the Entire Web

Click “Setup.”

Notice the “Search only included sites” drop down in the screenshot below:


Change the drop down to “Search the entire web but emphasize included sites.”


Now select the site you entered and click “Delete.”

cse5 cse6


Now you’ve built a CSE that will search the entire web. You can add refinements as explained in my last post to focus on certain areas or use straight Boolean.

In this case, I was testing out some keywords around the inanchor operator via refinement (to find resumes):

cse7 cse8 cse9

Keep in mind you’ll need to gauge which method is more of use. Sometimes a straight site search/x-ray can be more effective depending on what you are looking for. Try both methods and see which one yields the best results, and change your Boolean and refinements until you get your CSE pulling the right information. I still test and change my CSE syntax regularly, because something that works today may not work tomorrow.

I hope this helps. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the creative concepts you come up with. In my next post I’ll go over some alternative methods for building a CSE to directly target profiles from certain sites (as well as a deeper dive into refinements), so stay tuned.


This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.