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An Introduction to Google

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The Appeal of Google's Search Engine

In the last few years, Google has attained the ranking of the #1 search engine on the Web, and consistently stayed there.

How does Google's search engine work?

Basically, Google is a crawler-based engine, meaning that it has software programs designed to "crawl" the information on the Net and add it to its sizeable database. Google has a great reputation for relevant and thorough search results, and is a good first place to start when searching.

Google's Search Engine Home Page

Google's home page is extremely clean and simple, loads quickly, and delivers arguably the best results of any search engine out there, mostly due to its PageRank technology and massive listings (more than 8 billion at the time of this writing).

Google's Search Engine Options

Searchers have more than one option on Google's home page; there is the capacity to search for images, comments in UseNet discussion forums, and Google's unique news hub, and many more choices. Google's own shopping search engine Froogle, is also available for searchers to tap into Google's sizable shopping listings.

How to use Google's search engine

  • Be specific. Google is not an "intuitive" search engine (unfortunately, there aren't any!), and therefore cannot read your mind. Try to be as concise as possible; instead of "jeans", try "Levi 501 jeans".
  • Search for phrases. For example, if you're searching for a specific quote, type in "to be or not to be". Google will search for the entire phrase just how it appears in between the quotes. For more information on how use phrases in your searches, check out Looking for a Specific Phrase.
  • Be selective. Use "common words", such as and, if, not and numbers ONLY if you want them included in the search. Google excludes them otherwise. If you want them included, use a phrase search by putting quotations around your search query, or include the common word by putting a space and a plus sign right in front of it. For example, if you are looking for the season five DVD of "Sex and the City", type in "sex and the city dvd season +5".
  • Exclude extra results. If you want to narrow down your searches even further, focus your search by placing a "-" (negative sign) in front of words you want to avoid. For example, if you're searching for "coffee" and want to avoid Starbucks, you would type in "coffee -Starbucks" (without quotes). If you'd like to learn more about using the plus and minus symbol in your searches, read Basic Web Search Math.

Google Search Tips

All you need to do is just enter a word or phrase and hit "enter". Google will only come up with results that contain all the words in the search word or phrase;so refining your search just means adding or subtracting words to the search terms you've already submitted.

Google's search results can easily be narrowed down by using phrases instead of just one word; for example, when looking for "coffee" search for "Starbucks coffee" instead and you'll get much better results.

Google doesn't care about capitalized words and will even suggest correct spellings of words or phrases. Google also excludes common words such as "where" and "how", and since Google will return results that include all of the words you enter in, there's no need to include the word "and", as in "coffee and starbucks."

Google Advanced Search

For more advanced Google search tips, you'll definitely want to check out my Google Cheat Sheet. Google is just way too big for only one article to cover all it has to offer in the way of search.

Google Toolbar and Google Desktop Search

What else is great about Google? Personally, I'm a big fan of both the Google Toolbar and the Google Desktop Search. The best feature of the toolbar is that it blocks annoying pop-ups, and offers instant access to Google's search technology. The desktop search has its critics but I've had no problems with it. Both downloads are free and take up very little space on your system; give them a try and see what you think.

Keep reading for more information about Google Search.

Google Search Engine Extras

There's so many extra search options on Google that it's difficult to find space to list them all. Here are a few special features:
  • Search for Books: If you're looking for text from a specific book, type in the name of the book (in quotes), or if you're looking for books about a particular subject, type in "books about xxx". Google will return results that contain content either in the book itself, and will offer links to Book Results at the top of the search page.
  • Google Calculator: Use Google's calculator by just typing in whatever calculation you'd like Google to figure out. For example: half a quart in tablespoons.
  • Google Definitions: Ask Google to define something by typing in define (insert term).

More About Google Search

The folks over at the Googleplex are always up to new tricks; here are just a few of the Google releases I've covered here at About Web Search:

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