In April 2020, Google changed its Custom Search Engine to Programmable Search Engine. I thought the timing is good to get a refresher on how a 501(c)(3) nonprofit can power its website(s) with Google Search at no cost (yup, no ad either). Here’s Google’s description of how this can be done.
That Google’s article is probably enough information for some. But if not, here’s some more. Let’s walk back a little bit, and talk about a few related things.
Power Your Website with Google Search — What Does That Mean?
(To let people find your web content with search engines, first you need to let search engines know about your web content.)
Anyone can use Google search engine (or Bing if you prefer) to look up anything. What if we want people to only get pages on our site in their search results? There are different ways to achieve that. I’ll list two common approach here.
First approach — when you do a search with Google or Bing or other search engine, add site domain name in the search box. For example, if you are looking up a term “kids”, but only want to get pages on a certain website (say, GoodSystem.org), enter “kids site:goodsystem.org” in search box. That’s it. That’s the whole trick. Try it and you’ll see.
Second approach — on your website, add a search function to any or all pages. This involves a little bit web page authoring (coding). There’s a Google Programmable Search Engine service, and there’s a Bing Custom Search service. Both allow some free usage. Once you followed either set of instructions to set up a custom search engine, you’ll find some code that you can add to your web pages, and like magic, you’ll see a search box on your page that’ll just work. Now your website is empowered with a custom search engine 🎉.
The Undesired Ads and What We Can Do About them
So every website can set up a Google Programmable Search Engine and use it for free. But you’ll soon notice the Ads in search results. Sometimes it could be too overwhelming. Like, you may have only 3 links of your own site showing in the search result, but there are 4ads on the same search result page 🤷.
For 501(c)(3) nonprofits, Google has a nonprofits program loaded with free stuff! As described in the first link of this article, once your nonprofit get approved for this special program, just connected with your Google Programmable Search Engine account properly. In a few days, you’ll see in your Programmable Search Engine account that you are approved for a nonprofit account. Then you’ll be able to remove Ads from your custom search engine!
This article is created by Good System, a nonprofit committed to help community organizations utilize technologies.
We’ll have separate articles to talk about the nuanced setup process for custom search engine account as well as Google for Nonprofits program. This article intends to give you an idea of what are the pieces needed to make the whole “power your website with Google search” thing work. Hope this helps.