Google Custom Search Engine

USC’s Google Site Search (GSS) license expired in March 2018 and Google completely shut down GSS in April 2018. If you had been using USC’s Google Site Search for your website search, you will need to replace it with a new search.

If you haven’t yet identified a replacement search, we recommend using a free Google Custom Search Engine. Setting up a Custom Search Engine (CSE) to search one or a group of sites is easy but requires several steps:

  1. If you don’t have a departmental Gmail account, we recommend that you set one up to be the owner of the CSE.
  2. Go to and log in as the account owner. Follow the instructions for creating the search engine.
  3. In the search engine dashboard, you can configure the layout, fonts, and colors used in your search results. When configuration is completed, use the ‘Save and get code’ button to see Javascript code you can cut and paste into your search results page. Note that you must use the Google search code configured in the CSE dashboard. If you use the Javascript API, you will incur charges whenever queries exceed 100 in one day.

To verify your CSE’s eligibility for ad-free status:

  1. Add user as an administrator on the search engine and send an invite. This is a USC G Suite Superadmin account. Google will shorten the address to, but the invite will go to the correct address anyway.
  2. In Service Now, go to Service Catalog > Accounts and Access > Enterprise Account Management > Organizational and Specialty Accounts. Since this request item covers a lot of other account types, you should be pretty specific about what’s needed, e.g.,
    “For Google G Suite Admins:
    An invitation to become an administrator for a Google CSE has been sent to Please accept the invitation in order to enable ad-free status for this CSE – <Name of your CSE>.”
  3. Wait a day or so, then go to the ‘Make Money’ tab in the CSE dashboard. When the admin user has been verified, you will be able turn “Show Ads” off.