We all know that their is one search monster in the world and that monster is Google. It’s the biggest and best search tool going. If your start page, the page that opens when you start Internet Explorer or Firefox, is not Google then change it now. It’ll save you so much time. Here’s how:
IE: Tools, Internet Options, on the General Tab change the text in Home Page Address to www.google.(your country)
Firefox: Tools, Options, on the Main tab change the text in the Home Page Address to www.google.(your country)
Don’t know your country? Here’s a list for you. For other web browsers you are on your own, or send me a note and I’ll add it to my other post.
Once you have Google as your home page you need to lean how to search. The most basic way is typing in what you want to search for and clicking (or pressing enter) search. In my example I’m searching for information on the Beatles, so I know where they were from so I enter
Liverpool England, you can see an example here. Although this is the most basic search Google offers many ways to enhance the search. After all we’re getting very general hits on Liverpool, nothing specific, so lets refine the search.
Just so you know, Google ignores capitalization,
liverpool is the same as
LIVERPOOL. So don’t worry about capital letters. Google drops short words automatically, so don’t bother entering the following when you do a general search: a, and, it, for, of. We can force Google to include these if we need to, it’s pretty easy to do. One simple way is to add the + sign in front of the word, for example
+the, but more on this later. My last point here is about the ‘I’m feeling lucky” button, do you know what it actually does? It skips the search result page and takes you directly to the first hit in Google.
Google automatically adds AND between your search phrases, so by typing more search phrases into Google we get more specific results. Try
Liverpool England Beatles, you can see we get more refined results already. Think about different words to use for your search, different phrases bring in different results.
You can refine this more by using the ‘must include + symbol. So try
Liverpool England +beatles which will only return pages with the word beatles on them.
If we wanted yet more precsion we can use “quotes” to force Google to search for exact phrases. Such as
Liverpool England +"The Beatles", the result is here. Note that the plus from the previous example is included again here. You can tie in all of Google’s basic search tricks together.
If we want to exclude certain results we can use the minus symbol, as you’d expect it works in the opposite way to the plus symbol. An example of this would be
Liverpool England +"The Beatles" -Yoko. What we’d get from this would be all the previous hits, minus any page that references Yoko.
Okay, now we have a really precise search terms, so lets look at another way to use Google. I know about a Beatles song I like, but I don’t recall what it was called, or even the lyrics. Precise searching is not going to always be the easiest way. I know it fruit in the title so we’ll use Google’s alike symbol, the ~ (or tilda). Try
The Beatles ~fruit and bang, we get the result, Strawberry Fields.
Google can also search for file types, so trying
filetype:PDF the beatles will return only PDF results featuring The Beatles. The first hit is the great Complete Story Of The Beatles Revolver, which I recommend by the way. You can use any file type, for example .torrent.
When you find a site or topic that you like, you can find other related sites using Google, try
related:http://www.beatles.com which gives you these results. Lots of related artists sites.
Although not strictly a search tip, if you use
cache:http://www.beatles.com as a search term you can get to sites that are momentarily or permanently offline through Google’s cache of the website.
When you get your search results back from Google you’ll see some results are indented, this means that result is from the same website as the one above.
You can do boolean searching with Google as well, for example
lennon OR mccartney. It’s not really required so much when you have so many other tools in the basic Google kit such as + – and “. You can play around with boolean search phrases on the Educational Boolean Search Tool. It’ll teach you all about AND NOT and OR in a nice easy way.
So now you know about Google’s not-so-secret search toolkit, go search the web in a better way than ever before!