Google has updated its Custom Search service to provide what aims to be an easier-to-personalize interface and more visually appealing search results.
The enhancements, which will go live on Monday evening, also allow registered Wikipedia users to apply Google Custom Search to their Wikipedia searches, to obtain only results that are relevant to the encyclopedia page they're reading, for example.
Custom Search is an online service that lets publishers provide a Google search box on their sites with an index tailored to their area of focus. For example, a car-racing publication could have a Google engine on its site that delivers only results related to that topic.
The new interface options include displaying a single- or two-column page, as well as what Google calls a "compact" layout for pages accessed from mobile devices. Google also offers several "themes" with different color palettes paired with other stylistic elements. Webmasters willing to tinker with the page's code can further tweak the layouts and designs.
Another update lets webmasters add thumbnail images and action commands to results. For example, a book search result can include a small image of the cover, as well as buttons for the user to perform actions like download the text. Webmasters can also let users filter results by including specific instructions in the query, such as finding only works by a particular writer.
Finally, people who register for a Wikipedia account can activate what Google calls a Custom Search "skin" that lets them search from within Wikipedia and obtain only results that are relevant to the topic of the page they're viewing. A Wikipedia page has instructions for turning this on.