Search: Everything new is old again

When I first started using the web in 1996 there were few search websites, and those that existed used to be slow and return poor quality results.

Back in the late 1990’s the best web search engine was actually little more than a list of websites, with a simple search. Here is Yahoo from 1996, 1997.

Google has changed everything. They’ve also become one of the worlds biggest data mining companies, collect data about what you search for, what you read as a result of that search and so much more information.

In addition, google searches often return results, the first page of which is 85% adverts. You have to scroll to the second page just to find even simple search results.

I spend a lot of time researching music, musicians, record companies etc. for my website. That requires a lot of site specific searches to minimise the results, so I can see the needle in the haystack. What that means in reality is going to a site, typing in a search, pressing enter, waiting; if the result isn’t what I want, I got to another site, retype in the search, press enter, wait and so on.

Enter Sitesearch

Welcome to Yahoo-like search in 2021.

Sitesearch is really only intended as a sample web page (.html file) to get you started and for you to edit. It is not a search engine, it is not hosted online, it doesn’t have any of it’s own search results.

You can download Sitesearch from this dropbox shared folder. It comes as three files

- a text file with html tags for formatting and the actual sites to search.
- a question mark graphic that is displayed on the right of the search page
- a 32x32(tiny) version of the question mark graphic for use as a bookmark or browser tab icon.

When you download these files, keep them in the same directory on your device. You can use the .html page by using File/Open from your browser. You can also drag/drop the .html file onto an open browser tab.

Once you have the Sitesearch page open, you can bookmark it, and/or add it to your bookmarks bar. It doesn’t work as a default search page though.

Using Sitesearch

Enter the search term and select a site to search. If your first search does not find what you want, use the browser back button, and select another site, or change the search. If your browser returns an error page “ERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND” it’s almost certain you forgot to tell the form where to search. Use the back button and resubmit.

Most sites support general and specific searches. to search for results that feature this and that, enter your search as this +that. To search for specific strings rather than just words, put the string in quotes, for example a search for covid-19 boris will return results that contain the two words, “covid-19 Boris” will return results where those words are next to each other.

Can I add additional searches?

Yes, you can add as many searches to this list as you want. You will often get better results by using the actual website search if available. You can go to to the website, do a search, and copy the search into the .html file as shown below. You may need to edit the order of the parameters, the search has to be the last part of the url.

Take a look at the examples, go to a websites and use their search and compare what is in the .html file, and what is in the browser url.

If the website does not have it’s own search, both Google and Duckduckgo both support the Site: parameter as a search modifier. See the Wikipedia example in the .html file. You can duplicate that line and put in any valid website and the search engine will return the results ONLY from that website.

There are some sites that cannot be added using the simple javascript and html found in this example. For example, I couldn’t find a way to add using their search. You can add a search for their site via duckduckgo or google, but you will get search ads on the result page.

Other Modifications

If you are competent at coding html, you don’t need to read any further. These instructions are for people who are not. You should remove all the introduction text that means deleting everything from

<h3>Welcome to sitesearch</h3>

up to, but not including the line starting <form this is where the work gets done.

<form name="searchform" onSubmit="return dosearch();"

You can also replace or remove the graphics. Don’t forget, the .ico file should be a specific size 32×32 pixels to work on all browsers. The .jpg can be a as big or small as you want, you can also change the alignment from align=right to align=left.


Is this supported? I have no idea what that means, it’s a sample. I’m one man, not a company. If you have questions, you can DM me via twitter, or leave questions on this post. I’ll answer then as time allows and to the best of my ability, which these days, isn’t rocket scientist level, if it ever was!

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