Google Custom Search Alternative

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Google Custom Search Engine, Google Search Appliance, Google Site Search… The list of products might get confusing very quickly. With AddSearch, this is no longer a problem.

In 2018, Google terminated two out of three search products: Google Site Search and Google Search Appliance, and now put all the efforts into an old, well-known product, Google Custom Search Engine (or CSE).

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What is Google Custom Search Engine (CSE)

Let’s dig into CSE and try to understand if it is the right fit for your website.

Google CSE has changed a lot since the closure of its two corresponding products. Google Custom Search used to be a free site search supported by Google ads. That’s right, if you install CSE you will be showing ads of other businesses (and even your competitors) on your own website.

Picture of a graph that displays customers that stopped using Google Custom Search since 2011.

As of today, Google CSE offers different plans for different business needs as well as lots of customization tools. Yet its design limitations, ads, lack of speed made many of former Google search products’ customers look for a better solution.

Google Site Search Alternative

AddSearch enhances search by providing new powerful features that improve search results even further. Whether you’re a small company or a large enterprise, AddSearch provides a simple, like-for-like replacement for Google Custom Search Engine with the added benefit of powerful extra features.

You will still get to enjoy all the great features from CSE, now with additional tools that will dazzle your customers and boost conversions. It takes just five minutes to switch over, with no coding experience or developer support needed.

Below, we compared Google Custom Search Engine to AddSearch side-by-side.

AddSearchStandard Google CSECSE powered by API
PricingFrom $25/monthFree$5 per 1000 queries
Query limitsFrom 50,000/monthNo limits10,000 queries per day (if more than 10 domains)
ImplementationFrom inserting a few lines of code to building complex customized solution with APIClient side javascriptClient side or server side JSON API
AnalyticsShows popular, no click and no result keywords. Integration to Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics available.Shows popular queries and volume of queries. Integration to Google Analytics.Shows popular queries and volume of queries. Integration to Google Analytics.
SupportEmail and live chat support for all customersNoNo

Let’s start from the beginning by comparing the similar features that Google Custom Search Engine and AddSearch offer.

Similar Features

AddSearchGoogle CSE
Search Suggestions Autocomplete
Typo Tolerance
Indexing of PDFs, DOCs or PPTs
Instant results, search-as-you-type-
Hidden keywords-
Custom UI search service-
User managementAdvancedBasic

Both AddSearch and Google CSE support search tools including search suggestion autocomplete, promotional banners for certain results, typo tolerance, are able to index additional file types and allow you to adjust the ranking of individual pages or site sections.

Advantages AddSearch offers as a Google Site Search Alternative

AddSearch is a lightning fast, accurate and customizable Site Search engine with a Search API. It works on all devices and is easy to install, customize and tweak.

lets look at a few powerful features it offers, giving it a leg up over google.

– Adjust ranking of individual pages or entire site sections

Adjust search ranking

Do you want products to be shown above any other pages? You can adjust the ranking of certain site sections, such as path /products by boosting their weight with our tools. You can also exclude content or boost even certain file types such as PDF files if you want to.

– Instant results and search-as-you-type

Barracuda’s Fast Search Widget by AddSearch

Your visitors can search from anywhere on the website and find the right information straight away. AddSearch gives your website visitors instant search results and makes search experience faster and smoother.

– Hidden keywords

If you want your page to rank for additional keywords without adding the keywords into the text of the page, use hidden keywords. You can specify hidden keywords page by page.

– Related Searches 

When your users can’t find what they are looking for, you can suggest related searches and search results. With this simple feature, you can ensure that your website visitors stay on your site and don’t leave frustrated.

– Filtering & Facets

Filters and facets make it easier for your users to look through your content. You can guide them through your website with multiple filter options or contextual filters based on their search results.

– Personalization


Your users can look for very different search results depending on their status or previous web-behavior. For example, an enrolled student looks for different results on a university website than a high school student. You can deliver a better website experience to each of your website visitors with search personalization by providing relevant search results for each user.

– Analytics & Dashboard

Google CSE allows you to integrate with Google Analytics – and so does AddSearch. But on top of that, we also offer a custom search dashboard that includes all the relevant information you want about your site search such as popular keywords or keywords that return no results. On your dashboard, you also have control over your search results and can easily adjust the ranking of content in search results or make any other changes to your search feature.

– User management

Invite your colleagues, content managers and marketers to look over site search analytics while making sure that only the right people can make actual changes to your search results.

– Custom UI design 

While google’s CSE comes with very few design options, you can reach a whole new level of customization with AddSearch. With a vast selection of pre-built themes fitting your needs (eCommerce, media & list view, etc.) and our search UI library and APIs, you can make your search tool fit your branding and website design. Whenever you need any help with designing and building, you can reach out to our technical support to help you.


AddSearch Pricing

All AddSearch plans include ranking tools, Search API, language-specific features and fast and reliable customer support. The more advanced plans have many additional features and, for example, SLA and implementation support available.

Google Custom Search Pricing

Google Custom Search Pricing 2021

Here’s Google Custom Search Engine pricing taken from its official website.

You can see that the free Standard Search Element still comes with ads. Google CSE make it obligatory for non-profit companies to use Google branding on their website. Custom Search powered by JSON API, which is no longer free but costs $5 per 1000 queries, is not sustainable for large websites because of its limitations of 10,000 queries per day or 10 domains connected to the search engine (depending on if you choose JSON API or Restricted JSON API).

Setup and Implementation

Both AddSearch and Google Custom Search Engine support simple installation with inserting Javascript code to the website. AddSearch can be customized freely and styled with CSS to suit any website and brand. Google Custom Search customization is limited to a few settings. If you have a more complex solution in mind, API is available for both AddSearch and CSE.

With our Premium & Enterprise plans, we also support you during every step of your implementation process at no extra cost, including the development and coding of the search. Our expert team of developers will provide you with guidance on best practices of search and will ensure that your search works for your website.


If in trouble, Google does not provide any support for search products, whether you use paid search or a free one. If you have any technical issues or questions, Google directs customers to its Community Forum, where Google enthusiasts and employees publicly discuss the subject of support.

AddSearch support, on the contrary, is loved and often praised by our customers. In addition to extensive documentation, we offer live chat and email support for all plans, as well as full implementation assistance and consultation for enterprise customers.


Google has such a vast catalog of products, Google Custom Search Engine is just one of many. As we have seen with the end of Google Site Search and Google Search Appliance, Google can discontinue a product if it doesn’t make economical sense anymore cause they can rely on their wide product portfolio. Many companies were left out in the rain in 2018 and had to find a replacement for their search fast.

If you want to avoid having to look for a last-minute alternative for your site search, you can choose search as a service solution like AddSearch that is specialized in search. Internal site search is our bread and butter and you can rely on us continuing our services because this is what we do – and what we do best.

In the end, the choice is up to you. Whether you’re a webmaster or developer, working in a business or a non-profit organization, we obviously work hard here at AddSearch to make the best search for you.

Why choose AddSearch as a Replacement for Google Custom Search?

Here’s a list of features that customers who migrated from Google search products especially love about AddSearch.

  • AddSearch provides all the same familiar features as Google search and much more
  • There is no AddSearch branding or other business ads on your website
  • You can enjoy full design freedom
  • We will support you at every step and our customer support is fast, friendly and responsive
  • AddSearch search analytics cover most popular and low CTR keywords as well as keywords
  • returning no result

What is Google Custom Search?

Google Custom Search (also known as Programmable Search Engine) is a Google service that lets website owners add a custom search box to their site. The platform was initially launched in 2006 and was eventually renamed to Google Programmable Search Engine.

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