In the fast-paced world of online information, users have become accustomed to the ability to quickly and easily search across web sites or within a specific web site using a few key words. It's no wonder, then, that several "build your own search engine" tools now exist to facilitate the creation of customized searches across or within specific web sites.
I tested out two such tools and compare/contrast them below:
This tool is still in the Beta stage and therefore it still has some snags. I'll get to those in a minute.
1) Building a Customized Search Tool: It's easy to build a tool in Rollyo. You don't even have to register (although the tool won't become widely available to the Rollyo community unless you do). You just name your "Searchroll", and enter the list of URLs that you want to search. You can also categorize the searchroll and/or enter tags but these steps are optional.
There is even a tool you can download that enables you to create a searchroll from your list of bookmarks/favorites in your browser!
2) Sharing Your Search Tool: You have the option of creating a direct link to your searchroll which you can then e-mail, post in a blog, or insert anywhere that a link can be used. Most importantly, though, there is a tool which will allow you to embed the search tool in a web site or blog by automatically generating the code. This automatic code generation is a very simple process of selecting your searchroll and selecting the search box style which will, in turn, generate the code.
3) Tools and Toys: Rollyo tools include the ability to create widgets and bookmarklets for your browser's toolbar that directly link to your Rollyo search. However, the best part about Rollyo is the user sharing experience. Users of Rollyo can search for other searchrolls, can select/deselect popular web sites to search, and can create a customized "My Rollyo" list of searchrolls.
4) Detriments: My biggest complaint with Rollyo is the speed. It takes a painfully long time to run its search even when I was only searching one site. Nowadays internet users expect instant gratification, and I wonder how many users will be patient enough to wait while Rollyo conducts its search. Also, the search engine's hits are peppered with advertisements and links to "sponsored sites". There is no real way to exclude these from the search. The last problem with Rollyo is that once you create a searchroll, there is no way to delete it. I accidentally created a duplicate searchroll, and now I can't get rid of it... I suspect that this is merely a bug resulting from the fact that they're still in Beta Testing.
1) Building a Customized Search Tool: This is a pretty easy process. You need to sign in and create an account, but if you already have a Blogger account, you can just sign-in with your Blogger username and password. Once signed up, you name your search tool, enter its description, enter some keywords (or tags), and list the sites you want to search. The NICE thing about Google, is that it also gives you the option of turning off advertisements if you're a non-profit or government entity.
2) Sharing Your Search Tool: Once you've created your tool, you go to the "My Search Engines Control Panel" to customize the look/feel of your search box. You seemingly have a lot of options with this control panel such as adding your institution's logo to the search box, and changing the search box's color scheme, but I could not get any of these options to work. I could make changes, but they never saved. As a result, I could really only generate code for the generic/default search box which is simple with no bells-and-whistles, but works.
3) Tools and Toys: Offers Google Gadgets which allows you to insert an "Add to Google" widget on your website, so people can embed your customized search box on their site. There is also a Google Marker button that you can add to your browser's toolbar which allows you to add a site to your customized search box by merely clicking on the button in the toolbar. Google lacks all the social/sharing perks of Rollyo.
4) Detriments: My biggest complaint with Google was the fact that none of their search box customizations worked. Also, there is no way for creaters of Google search boxes to shared their customized searches. This sharing ability would greatly improve the usefulness of the tool.
Side By Side Comparison
Alrightey... Now is the moment you've all been waiting for: The side by side comparison! I created 2 identical customized searches; 1 using Rollyo and 1 using Google. Both search tools search the same 3 sites: http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/, http://www.web2atlunch.blogspot.com/, and http://www.statelibrarync.blogspot.com/
I conducted several searches in both boxes including: "Youth Services" "Web 2.0" and "Renovation". I noticed that Rollyo retrieves hits from the State Library's web page but not the State Library's blogs. Google retrieves hits from all three sites.
Personally, I prefer Google's box because it offers more comprehensive hits and the delivery time is MUCH faster. As such, I plan to add the Google Search box to the sidebar of my blog just above my LibraryThing list.