Blog Post

Need a Better Search Engine? Roll Your Own

Have you jumped on the personalized search bandwagon yet? If not, and you do a lot of web searches, personalized searches are worth a look. Lately I’ve been using Rollyo which greets you at its home page with this tagline: “Roll your own search engine.”

Rolling your own search engine is exactly what Rollyo lets you do, and it can save you time and take you to search results that you care about faster than other approaches. It lets you conduct your searches within a limited set of pre-specified web sites, so that rather than the usual ocean of results that come back when you do, say, a Google search, you get a more targeted set. Think of a searchable daily RSS feed with information from your favorite trusted sites and you’ll get the idea.

The first step in rolling your own search engine with Rollyo is building what’s called a Searchroll. A Searchroll is a list of site addresses that you want searches to be concentrated in. For example, if you regularly search for information on Linux at a set of 20 blogs, you can put those blogs in a Searchroll and search for Linux information within them in one step.

Rollyo also lets you create many Searchrolls and swap them in and out. So if you want to find Linux information from your favorite blogs, you might do one search with your Blog Searchroll, and then pull up a different Searchroll consisting of standard news sites to do a search within.

When you first start using Rollyo, you automatically have (on the home page) a list of pre-defined Searchrolls you can use, such as Tech News, Top News, Reference, Health, and more. A search for “Facebook” within the Tech News Searchroll returned many Facebook-related stories from popular tech blogs, IT-focused publications, tech magazines and more. There are even Searchrolls created by celebrities featured on the site. Debra Messing has a featured one dedicated to online shopping.

Rollyo is in beta, and although I like it I do have one problem with it, which is that individual Searchrolls can only have 25 web sites listed to search within. Especially for doing searches on topics such as tech news, I would like to have a lot more than that listed.

Do you have any experience with personalized search?

6 Responses to “Need a Better Search Engine? Roll Your Own”

  1. Wow, that comment is a nice way to get some free advertising, Jian. I’m pretty sure the original article is focused primarily on free search tools. That’s what I was talking about with Google. Sure, there are plenty of other “fee-for-service” sites that provide more options, but those aren’t really viable as a personalized search engine.

  2. JiansNet has a better approach. It is a search engine that you could get for your own site.

    It offers some unique advantages than Rollyo or Google Custom Search. Such as on-demand indexing, better did-you-mean suggestion, fully customizable search result page, no logo or JiansNet branding, etc.

    Visit it at