Exploiting Google Co-op CSE

Google have just launched the Google Co-op Custom Search service.

The initial feedback I have seen from many bloggers is “more of the same”.

Google Co-op is not the same as Google Adsense for Search in many ways, and the new service can be used / abused in ways that Adsense for Search could not.

  1. There are some distinct differences in the code that you include on your website
  2. There are additional collaboration features
  3. The terms of service have a different feel, and are missing a few specific clauses
  4. Sites can be included in the results, but also blocked

There are a number of projects I have been trying to launch for the last month that would use Adsense for Search and other Google services to provide a unique service.

I have had quite lengthy discussions with the Google Adsense team, but although they have allowed a number of sites to use Google Adsense for Search in a similar way to what I intend, they are reserving this only for test sites. What I intended to do was combine a few of the ways Adsense for Search was being used, with the way another Google service was being used, to create something unique. Currently I am not allowed to do it.

Because of the differences in code (point 1 above) for Google Co-op, one of the ways I wanted to use Google results would be impossible to implement.

The difference in the terms of service however might allow for a partial solution, and thus I have sent an enquiry to Google to see if this will be possible.
Most people would assume that if there are 2 Google products, and you want to have them interacting together to provide a better, unique service, that Google wouldn’t object. There are even situations where a visitor to your website is allowed to perform certain actions with a Google product, and if they then distribute the result from that interaction, your Google Adsense account could be in jeopardy.
I am being very vague in much of the above. I treat my discussions with Google as private, and obviously want to be able to implement my unique solution sometime in the future, whilst retaining a competitive edge.

If you are doing anything out of the ordinary with Google services, I strongly advise consulting with them first.

Of particular concern is anything that modifies or generates Google adsense code, and doesn’t connect directly with their API.

Google provide a way of modifying Adsense code “on the fly” with their API, but most solutions take a shortcut and modify the code directly with substitution. An example of this are the many plugins for sharing adsense revenue, where all you have to do is provide an adsense publisher ID to get your share. Any site that does some form of direct substitution has to be authorised by Google.

It should be noted that Google Co-op Custom Search is a beta project, but it is labelled “beta” and not “labs”. That means this is a core feature of Google, unlike Free Search, or even Google Reader.

Further Reading

Search Engine Round Table has some solid information on the signup process for monetizing your search with Google Co-op.

Neowin has a short piece, but the comments made me chuckle. Co-op certainly has a different meaning to most readers in the UK, and it is nothing to do with Google.

Techcrunch has a relatively short article on Google Co-op.

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more. Follow


  1. says

    Upon checking this out, three features stood out:
    1) You can exclude sites that you do not want in the results
    2) You can easily do so using the Google Marker
    3) Anyone can volunteer to help

    So we decided to throw up an experiment to encourage everyone to mark spam sites to be excluded from search results.

    Working together as a community we may be able to radically improve the quality of the search results (or perhaps just get in a blacklisting war?)

    The result is Putch – http://www.putch.com

  2. says

    I am trying to find out if I can use this search engine on a corporate site without the ads enabled. The checkbox to hide the ad seems to indicate that you need to be a non profit organization, but In the google blog, it says “if you choose” you can use adsense to make money.

    Do you know if they allow the use of the search engine without ads if you are a for profit company?

  3. Andy Beard says

    From what I have read / seen, if you associate an adsense account to your co-op account, then all co-op search engines you create will have your adsense associated with them.

    This might also be true of any search engine created by a 3rd party that you participate in.

    As to whether adverts show up if you don’t submit an adsense ID, I am not sure.

    One of my problems in testing this is that I haven’t been able to see any adverts on the sites I have seen 3rd parties make (so far). That maybe due to my geographical location, or because Google hasn’t switched adverts on yet.

    I would suggest using the not for profit tick, but be aware that you are not allowed to have other revenue generatiion on the pages with the search results.

  4. says

    I have been able to view search results with or without ads.

    My only concern is that I can do the no ad option on a corporate site. We do not have any ads at all.

    The site is more of a marketing/credibility tool than a revenue generator.

    It makes sense to me that Google would allow the free use of their tool because they get a link advertising the custom search.

    But I want to mak esure its okay to do before rolling it out and then later having to take it away.

  5. Andy Beard says

    It is probably best to drop them a line.

    An alternative would be to use their API, though I am not sure if there is a version without advertising.

  6. Andy Beard says

    Sorry I had to delete the link to an erotic stories search engine. Too close to porn for many affiliate programs I might belong to and use on other sites.

  7. RankSpotDotCom says

    Hello Andy, looks like andybeard.eu has a nice ranking for “cse google”, explains why I’m here…. generous sure

  8. Andy Beard says

    Did you notice that the search result was a tag page? I have discussed this about other search terms such as “wordpress training” but that is not the only term I am receiving traffic from.

  9. says

    I always assumed if you accept people into a shared project, in some way the earnings are shared, but I haven’t read much on it.

    A lot of information on Google CSE can be found in the Google groups. I monitored the groups for a few days at launch, but it was extremely high traffic so eventually it became an unread tag in Gmail, and eventually I unsubscribed.

  10. says

    Hey, great post. It’s the first time I’ve seen your blog. I’m absolutely thrilled about Google CSE and have made several myself. One gaining increasing popularity.. – GoDark.us

    I’d put a lot of thought into using Adsense along with my Custom Google Searches, but had decided against it thinking it was pushing the envelope. But I appreciated your post as it is making me reconsider. Good stuff.