Some of you may have noticed that this site has its own custom search engine. If you're reading this post on the blog, you'll find the search box in the right sidebar; if you're reading this on the website, you'll find it on top of the page, right below the title. Having just added nearly three dozen sites to the search engine, I thought that this might be a good time to explain how it works in a little more detail.
What this custom search engine does is use Google's search technology to search only in the pages I tell it to use. Since it is a search engine for free Christmas music, all of the pages it searches will have some kind of free Christmas music available; many of those sites have been featured either on this blog or on the website. In other words, I've already done the work of finding which sites have free Christmas music for you; all you need to do is let it know what kind of free Christmas music you're looking for.
So why use this custom search engine instead of a regular Google search? Let's look at a few sample searches in both the custom search engine and a regular Google search (links to search results will open in another browser window):
["Silent Night"] (regular search)
Now, Google also does all kinds of fancy personalized searching, so what you see in the regular search results may differ slightly from what others see. However, it's very likely that the results will include Wikipedia's entry on "Silent Night", lots of links to the lyrics, and perhaps some other things - I even get a link to a bed manufacturer called Silentnight near the top of the results. Compare that to what you get here:
Most of the sites in the custom search results contain a downloadable version of "Silent Night"; even the sites that don't necessarily have that song will be guaranteed to have at least some free Christmas music available, since all of the sites in these results were hand picked by yours truly. You may also notice that there are far fewer sites to go through - the regular search returns more than 6 million results, while the custom search returns less than 40. This is a definite case of quantity over quality.
It works with artists, too. Let's try a regular Google search for Jars of Clay:
Again, there will probably be some variation in the results, but you will likely see things like the band's official site, their MySpace page, their Wikipedia entry, and links to online music stores among the more than 1 million results. Now let's do the same search with the custom search engine:
Only 7 results this time (as of this writing), and among them it is pretty easy to find 4 free MP3's of Christmas songs by Jars of Clay.
Note that in both of these cases, when using the custom search engine there is no need to narrow the search down with terms like "free", "Christmas", or "MP3"; that's because I've already done those searches myself, and this custom search engine only looks at sites that I have found useful when looking for free Christmas music.
I hope this helps to clarify the way in which this search engine is intended to be used. Try searching for your favourite Christmas songs or artists with it and see what you can find. And while I try my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, I'm sure there are a lot of great sites that I still haven't found; if you know of a site that should be included, just send me an email or leave a comment somewhere on this site and I'll see about including it.