I'm writing a Java program, and I want a function that, given a string, returns the number of Google hits a search formed from that query returns. How can I do this? (Bonus points for the same answer but with Bing instead.)
googleHits("Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?") would return 131,000,000. (or however many there are.)
Related: How can I programmatically access the "did you mean" suggestion? (eg searching "teh circuz" returns "did you mean the circus?")
found it: http://code.google.com/apis/ajaxsearch/documentation/#fonje
You can legally access the Google AJAX Feed API through its RESTful interface: http://code.google.com/apis/ajaxfeeds/documentation/#fonje
Bing still has a developer program where you can call against their API in a JSON/XML or SOAP matter: http://www.bing.com/developers
The Google Terms of Service say this:
5.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services through any automated means (including use of scripts or web crawlers) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Services.
Google has ways of making life unpleasant for you / your company if you violate the Terms of Service ...
UPDATE: The second sentence is about the way that you use Google's services ... including their published APIs. It is not entirely clear from the wording what is allowed and what is forbidden; literally speaking "any automated means" is very broad. However a Java app that performed Google searches, screen-scraped the results and repackaged them to provide some value added service would (IMO) be a violation of the TOS. And using Google's published APIs to do the same thing would (IMO) also be a violation.
But that's my opinion, not Google's. And it is the Google opinion that matters. If anyone is thinking of doing something like this, they should contact Google and check that what they are proposing is OK.
The point is that Google is not going to assist people to subvert their search business model. Anyone who thinks they can get away with it based on some clever interpretation of the TOS is going to get burned.
for the first part of the answer, try read the t-o-s; for the "did you mean" part, see: http://norvig.com/spell-correct.html
You may be able to do it "legally" using the Google Java Client Library. I don't know for sure, but they may have some methods similar to what you're looking for, and you won't be violating their TOS.
Google Data APIs Library