More than two years after purchasing Blogger producer Pyra Labs, Google has finally released their own beta version of a blog search service. The move makes Google the first of the major engines to venture into blog-specific search. Google Blog Search isn't limited to blogs published through Google-owned Blogger. Instead, it works to index all blog content that is published via RSS or Atom feeds.

As Google puts it:

" Google is a strong believer in the self-publishing phenomenon represented by blogging, and we hope Blog Search will help our users to explore the blogging universe more effectively, and perhaps inspire many to join the revolution themselves. Whether you're looking for Harry Potter reviews, political commentary, summer salad recipes or anything else, Blog Search enables you to find out what people are saying on any subject of your choice."

The size of the index is still limited, as Google has only been indexing blog posts since early summer of 2005. That means that any posts made to a blog prior to June aren't likely to show up in the search results. As for future growth, while Google expects to be able to find blog feeds on their own, they will be adding a submission form that will allow bloggers to manually add their link to the index. Bloggers that don't wish to be included in the index will be able to block their blogs the same way that they would block a web site, as Google says that the blog engine will respect robots.txt files and noindex meta tags.

In addition to standard search operators like "link:" and "site:" Google Blog Search will support new operators like "inblogtitle:" "blogurl:" and "inposttitle:." Blog search will be available in 35 different languages, though by default, the index will search all content. Safe search is also an available option.

The niftiest feature of Google's new blog search is the ability to create a custom RSS or Atom feed based on search results. Users can opt to subscribe to either the top ten or top one hundred listings for a particular search query. Google will then provide a feed that can be added to a user's favorite aggregator.

The current plan is not to include news source's feeds, which is Google's way of keeping Google News and Google Blog Search as separate resources.

The good news about this launch for the small business market is that blogs are all the rage right now. Aggregators are getting more powerful and more usable and the number of people keeping tabs on their favorite sites and topics via readers is growing. The growth of blog-specific search sites like Technorati and DayPop shows that people not only want to read blogs, they quite often want to look for specific topics on them. Google's introduction of a blog search engine will help prompt the other engines to offer similar features and will help propel the growth of blog readership.

That means that if you are already running a blog, you may be looking at some nice new traffic. After all, in the blog search engine, your posts won't have to compete with all of the other sites indexed by Google. If you're not already blogging, you need to give some consideration to whether or not you should start one up.

Now, as with search engine optimization, you shouldn't do it just to do it, you need to make sure that you have a reason to do it. Think about your target audience and ask yourself if there's anything that you can write for them that will make sense to your business. If you're a home improvement company, consider starting a blog that aims to answer common questions that your customers ask you. If you're a car dealership, consider starting a blog that features test drive information and car reviews. As with anything else online, it just takes a little bit of creativity.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
September 14, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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