RESTful new Custom Search API by Google

Google has announced new API for Custom Search. It is currently in Labs. It is always confusing for me to what API is for what use. Google has lots of search API for different usage. Google already has this API for Custom Search.

[This code has been committed to GitHub.]

The new API is little different. It gives you access to its REST service endpoint. It has one URL and few parameters to access REST service. The result comes in two formats: JSON and Atom. Below is the PHP code to get started using new JSON/Atom Custom Search API.

The code presented here can give you Atom based result and JSON based result as well. It depend on you in what way you want your result. Both format output title, url and snippet from the search result. It can easily be extended to add more values from returned result. Final output (title, url, and snippet) comes in an easy to use Array. You need to loop through it the way you want. Just make sure you escape the values using either htmlspecialchars() or htmlentities() for security reason.

You need an API key and Custom search key. Get API key from Google Console: Get custom search key from:

First utility file used in main class:

function getSearchResult ( $url )
	$options = array(
		CURLOPT_HEADER         => false,
		CURLOPT_ENCODING       => '',
		CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER => false // if making https req and do not care of ssl/https certificate then set it off
	$ch  = curl_init( $url );
	curl_setopt_array( $ch, $options );
	$content	= curl_exec( $ch );
	$err		= curl_errno( $ch );
	$errmsg		= curl_error( $ch );
	$info		= curl_getinfo( $ch );
	curl_close( $ch );
	$output['errno']   = $err;
	$output['errmsg']  = $errmsg;
	$output['content'] = $content;
	return $output;

The below code should basically split into three PHP pages. But I have written it in one. Do not worry seeing long code. It is easy to understand once you read it.

require './util.php';
interface SearchFormatStrategy {
	function getData(Google_Search $search);
class JSONStrategy implements SearchFormatStrategy {
	// Request JSON formatted search response
	public	function  getData(Google_Search $searchRes) {
		$params = array('key' => $searchRes::API_KEY,
						'cx' => $searchRes::CX,
						'q' => $searchRes->getQuery(),
		$url = $searchRes::BASE_URL . '?' . http_build_query($params, '', '&');
		$response = getSearchResult($url);
		if ($response['errno'] == 0) {
			$responseArr =  json_decode($response['content']);
		else {
			echo 'Error! Trouble somewehre. <br>' . $response['errmsg'];
		foreach ($responseArr->items as $item) {
			// $item->htmlTitle, $item->snippet
			$outputArr[] =  array($item->title, $item->link, $item->htmlSnippet);
		return $outputArr;
class ATOMStrategy implements SearchFormatStrategy {
	// Request ATOM formatted search response
	public	function  getData(Google_Search $searchRes) {
		$params = array('key' => $searchRes::API_KEY,
						'cx' => $searchRes::CX,
						'q' => $searchRes->getQuery(),
		$url = $searchRes::BASE_URL . '?' . http_build_query($params, '', '&');
		$response = getSearchResult($url);
		if ($response['errno'] == 0) { // no error
			return $this->_blogFeed($response['content']);
		else {
			echo 'Error! Trouble somewehre. <br>' . $response['errmsg'];
    private function _blogFeed($rssXML)
        $doc = simplexml_load_string($rssXML);
		$xml = explode("n", $rssXML);
		if (!$doc) {
			$errors = libxml_get_errors();
			foreach ($errors as $error) {
				echo $this->display_xml_error($error, $xml);
        if(count($doc) == 0) return;
		$docArr = json_decode(json_encode($doc),true);
		$entries = $docArr['entry'];
        foreach($entries as $item)
		   $this->title		=	$item['title'];
		   $this->link		=	$item['link']['@attributes']['href'];
		   $this->summary	=	$item['summary'];
            $post = array(
				'title'=>		$this->title,
				'link' =>		$this->link,
				'summary' =>	$this->summary
            $this->posts[] = $post;
		return $this->posts;
       // This I copied from somewhere
	public function display_xml_error($error, $xml)
		$return  = $xml[$error->line - 1] . "n";
		$return .= str_repeat('-', $error->column) . "^n";
		switch ($error->level) {
				$return .= "Warning $error->code: ";
				$return .= "Error $error->code: ";
				$return .= "Fatal Error $error->code: ";
		$return .= trim($error->message) .
				   "n  Line: $error->line" .
				   "n  Column: $error->column";
		if ($error->file) {
			$return .= "n  File: $error->file";
		return "$returnnn--------------------------------------------nn";
class Google_Search {
	CONST API_KEY	= 'your api key';
	CONST CX		= 'custom search engine key';
	private $query = '';
	public function __construct ($queryTerm_) {
	public function getData(SearchFormatStrategy $strategyObject) {
		return $strategyObject->getData($this);
	public function setQuery ($queryTerm_) {
		$this->query = $queryTerm_;
	public function getQuery () {
		return $this->query;
$google = new Google_Search('Bihar Election');
echo '<pre>';
// each array value should be encoded in production env.
print_r($google->getData(new JSONStrategy));
echo '<hr>';
//print_r($google->getData(new ATOMStrategy));
//print_r($google->getData(new ATOMStrategy));

I hope you find this guide as enjoyable to read as I did to create. Subscribe to feed or join me on Facebook for a regular update.

  • # 1 - by giorgio

    Hallo 🙂
    I have a question…

    I would like to search only in my region (italy) … How can do it?

    Thanks 🙂

  • # 2 - by prabhakar


    Thanks for the nice post.

    iam also trying to do programmatic search from webpage. i always get 10 records only. I want to get all results with the navigations. How to achieve this.


  • # 3 - by Jose

    I get a:

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_PAAMAYIM_NEKUDOTAYIM, expecting ‘)’ in C:\AppServ\www\custom\newCustomSearchAPI.php on line 15

    • # 4 - by Satya Prakash

      I do not know why you get this but you can solve this. Scope resolution operator should not be a problem there.

  • # 5 - by Jonathan

    hi satya. i’m totally new to php and javascript. question: to test your code out, how do i merge both sets of code so i can run it on a website? i’ve been to another site for a template, but that version uses ajax, resulting in only 64 results max per query. i’m able to edit it to my goal, which is actually to limit the search to a few chosen sites. could you direct me as to how to get it running and display on a browser so i’m able to debug and edit accordingly? thanks so much!

    • # 6 - by Satya Prakash

      You are new so do not think much. Just copy the 2nd code block to a php file and copy the 1st php code on the same file on top.

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