thanks for looking into this feedback askapache.
I tried 4.7.1 but it wasn't what I want really looking for. the idea was in the right direction though.
take a look at my 404 page when i use 4.7.1: https://rcpt.yousendit.com/735721761/e18495b7038f932bc53db5d5e78a1bfe (i exported the page into a pdf file)
now take a look at my current 404 page (reverted back to 4.6.3) with the template detection commented out: http://www.dragonscouts.com/home/dragon-online-askapache-google-404
i use atahualpa as my theme. this theme (i'm sure some other themes have this too) have the option to set your own 404 page (see screenshot of the option here: http://bayimg.com/pAdjdaaCl). I suspect the theme's 404 function conflicts with your plugin and took priority instead (notice how my sidebar was pushed to the bottom when using 4.7.1).
so, what i am requesting is for an option to choose any file as the 404 template (index.php in my case), and not just 404.php which you set in version 4.7.1.
an added option could be to turn off the template function and allow users to incorporate your plugin into any template using the following code for example:
i believe this can mitigate the issue of compatibility with themes that uses their own 404 page function. of course, this should be disclaimed as an "advance user" feature since manual steps by the user is required.
do let me know what you think of my suggestion. once again, thanks for looking into this.
p.s. by the way, when i upgraded to 4.7.1 my google search api key was blank. it did not "migrate" over from 4.6.3 during the upgrade. you might want to have a look at that too. thanks.