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Google Lights Search Path For SMBs

Further fleshing out its enterprise stack, Google  unveiled Google Custom Search Business Edition, a hosted service that lets small businesses quickly and easily add Google search to their Web sites.

A follow-up to the Custom Search Engine Google launched last October, Custom Search Business Edition includes site search hosted by Google so SMB customers needn't install and maintain their own technology.

While the original Custom Search Engine and the new business version both offer search results customization and reporting features about visitor behavior, the Custom Search Business Edition has some key differences. These include the option to turn off ads, e-mail and phone support from Google's Enterprise Search, and business integration features through an XML API.

The goal of Google Custom Search Business Edition is to alleviate the pains many small businesses face in trying to allow customers to search their Web sites to get information or buy products.

These businesses spend money on search advertising and search engine optimization to help customers find their business, but once customers find them, navigating among the unfamiliar products or services can be a chore.

Google is positioning the Custom Search Business Edition as a salve for the navigation issues. Search rivals Microsoft and Yahoo  are also targeting this dilemma.

Nitin Mangtani, product manager for Google Enterprise Group, said the original free Custom Search Engine "doesn't completely appeal to the business Web site."

"There are a lot of legitimate businesses which spend money on bringing visitors to the Web site and they want search results but no ads," Mangtani explained. "And they want support. They need somebody to talk to, especially companies with no IT."

Custom Search Business Edition starts at $100 a year for searching up to 5,000 pages, and extends to $500 for 50,000 pages. Google will support larger volumes of pages through its enterprise sales group for businesses that require it.

Mangtani also explained the pricing scheme.

"For us to go after the millions of sites with just 500 or a thousand pages, we needed a product with a very low total cost of ownership; $100 per year makes sense. You can only offer that price point with a hosted solution. That's why the need for creating a business solution which is in between the free and business appliance product line."

The appliance product line Mangtani referred to includes search offerings from the Google Enterprise group, including the Google Search Appliance and Google Mini, both of which offer more control over security, as well as search crawl depth and timing.

With Custom Search Engine, Custom Search Business Edition and the appliances, Google's enterprise search portfolio covers anything from mom-and-pop shops to SMBs and large companies.

Which is exactly what the search giant needs to compete with Microsoft , which made a hosted search announcement of its own today.

Microsoft said it has added Ask.com's Sponsored Listings to its adManager Beta search advertising service, which enables small businesses to purchase and manage search-based keyword advertising from the Microsoft Office Live platform.

Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL), an automated, auction system that allows search marketers to purchase, manage and optimize pay-per-click and contextual advertising campaigns, will join the MSN network and Live Search as distribution sources for Microsoft Office Live customers' search ads. ASL reaches over 59 million monthly unique users.

Internetnews.com Senior Writer Nicholas Carlson contributed to this report.



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