Are Google's Custom Search Engines the New DMOZ?

Article submitted by Erik M. Cunningham - June 27, 2007

After reading Eric Ward's article about the potential link building and search engine marketing opportunities offered by Google's Custom Search Engine tool, I decided to conduct some research and find out what all the buzz was about.

Google's free CSE tool is available to anyone with a Google account. It allows the account holder to add a customizable search box and search results to their website, specify or prioritize which sites they want to include in search results and invite others to contribute to the CSE by including additional websites or excluding existing sites from the results. Once the Custom Search Engine is created, Internet users can apply to become a contributor to the project or add the CSE to their own websites.

Sound familiar? It should. Custom Search Engines are essentially human edited Internet directories. The Open Directory Project (DMOZ) was founded on this idea and has been an authority on the subject for the better part of the last decade. Although the concept sounds great in principle, the DMOZ has been taking fire lately from web users for its slow response times and rejection of qualified editors. Because of this, many webmasters and search engine marketers are looking elsewhere for directory inclusion and industry approval.

Custom Search Engines may be Google's answer to the problems that the Open Directory Project is facing. CSEs that are created and maintained by reputable sources, like my link building CSE, may prove very useful to Internet users who want trustworthy information about specific topics. And in addition to using CSEs as another vehicle for Google AdSense revenue, it's my opinion that Google will eventually take advantage of the data generated from these human edited web directories by adding it to their search and ranking algorithms.

In theory, Custom Search Engines, like the DMOZ, sound like a great idea. But unfortunately, as with all things search engine related, spammers will eventually pollute the system. I can already picture how spammers will abuse the tool and can guess the strategies Google will employ to counter their attempts. All I can recommend for those of us caught in the crossfire, is that we use the tool early, and use it responsibly.