How-To: A Google-Plus Custom Search Engine

booleanstrings Boolean

Google’s Custom Search Engines (CSE) provide us with a way to access Google’s search index in a focused manner. At the core of the tool is X-Raying; any CSE starts with the identification of the site(s) we would like to narrow our search to, providing a way to hide the Boolean operator site: from the end user.

The CSE creation allows to specify X-raying in a more advanced format than the “ordinary” Google search. We can use the asterisk * to stand for a number of characters in a row in a URL. (Please note that this is unrelated to using the * as a search symbol in Google search.)

Here’s how X-Raying Google+ (that is done using this string:

site:plus.google.com inurl:about

on Google) can be implemented in an elegant way via a custom search engine. Just use the template plus.google.com/*/about in the CSE “add sites” dialog:

Et Voilà – your Google+plus search is up and running.

Refinements, found under the “search features” in the CSE creation page, offer the end user additional possibilities. In the refinements we can specify additional search terms to be added to the search string. They remain invisible to the end user.

For the G+ search engine I have defined three refinements: Location, Employer, and School.

The search strings I am using to define the refinements are, respectively, “lives in *”, “works at *”, and “attended *”.

Here is the complete Google-Plus Custom Search Engine. It searches Google+ profiles for keywords, and shows Google+ profiles with locations, schools, and employers in the refinements.


Note that in custom search engines the end user can sort the results by date (vs. by relevance) upfront, without specifying a date range.
The shortcut to the new CSE is 
http://bit.ly/GPlusEngine