Quite a few people have been asking lately about the benefits of using Google SiteSearch.
In theory, it’s great idea because people can use Google’s own search engine to search your site without leaving it. There’s even a slick module that allows you do this easily on Joomla 1.5. This should produce more accurate results, right?
Wrong. Here’s six reasons why you’re better off using your own site search rather than relying on Google:
1) It’s results are only as good as your metadata
There are many ways for metadata can suck from uninformative titles and descriptions to over-long site names. If you have that kind of site, then Google SiteSearch will render poor results compared to Joomla’s own search.
2) It’s 2, 3 or more days behind
A popular blog might gets its new posts indexed within a few hours but most sites will need to wait several days or more.
3) It’ll miss many results on large sites
Googles shows 36 million results for MySpace profile pages, but that site is thought to have over 300 million profiles, meaning that only around 10% of the site is indexed. The larger your site, the smaller the percentage of pages that will be indexed and the less useful Google SiteSearch becomes. Joomla’s forum which uses SiteSearch has 1,363,491 posts but only 392,000 results in Google so at the best it’s only 28% indexed.
4) You may see pages that don’t exist
Check the Google results for your domain using the site:example.com operator and you might see quite a few pages that don’t really exist. Here’s one example.
5) You lose the ability to drill down
Joomla 1.0 with Advanced Search or Joomla 1.5 with default search both allow you to only search inside content or only inside a particular component. With SiteSearch you can’t fine tune your results to delve only into your forum, calendar or photo gallery. The best it can do is drill down by subdomains.
6) You lose the ability to restrict access
If you have a private area to the site, you aren’t able to transfer Joomla’s user permissions over to Google. The results for a guest must be the same as those for site members.