Like most people, I only scratch the surface of Google, in terms of what I can do with it (and more importantly, what it can do for me).
As we are increasingly moving further away from the likes of physical dictionaries and encyclopaedias, it’s high time that I and anyone else interested – learnt how to Google like a pro. As some readers may be wondering what a Google is and others are seasoned search engine sergeants, I will try to make this relevant for all.
It’s more than just a single search field
Google is by and large regarded as the most comprehensive and effective search engine out there. Start your search journey by heading to www.google.com. Most people are familiar with typing into the single search field and then hitting the “Google Search” button.
But it is important to note that once you start searching – at the top of the www.google.com window - there are various options to explore.
If you are looking to find a picture of a certain something, you are going to have much better luck by searching with the Images option, as it will display countless images that relate to your search term, rather than websites.
Google Maps will allow you to search specific locations on a digital map, and can even provide you with directions from somewhere to some other where.
Amazingly enough, the Google Translate option will do its best to translate a word or sentence for you. Type in “Thank you very much”, translate to Spanish, and Google will reward your efforts with a “Muchas gracias”.
Another nifty feature is that as you are typing a search term, Google will have a go at predicting what it is that you are wishing to search by checking all similar searches that have come about before you. Type in “when do” and it might just decide that you were wanting to search “when do babies start smiling”. There’s even a Twitter account that turns these suggestions into poetry.
Type “define:” and then the word you are interested in. For example type into the search field “define: moustache”. Google will return search results displaying the definition of that word.
If you check the bottom of a search results page, you will find the “Advanced search” option. This will grant you further control in finding exactly what you are looking for.
For example, search results that MUST contain all of the words that you typed, and that must NOT contain any words typed into the “none of these words” text box. The advanced search option will also allow you to view search results in a language of your choosing, from a specific region, that was last updated within a certain amount of time AND you can even filter out explicit results.
As much as I would like to delve deeper into even more precise search constraints, I fear this may be a little more than light reading. However if you would benefit by being able to reach those hard to find snippets of information on the web that can only be found by entering symbols such as “ + – ~ “OR” .. *, simply click the below link and prepare your sponge of a brain for even more tools of the web search trade: http://www.googleguide.com/category/overview/index.html
If you are online and wanting to quickly find out how much an item that costs $100 United States dollars will set you back, simply type an amount such as “$100” into Google search, and the top result will tell you how many Australian dollars you would have to part ways with. You will then also have the option of choosing which currencies to convert to and from using a dropdown menu.
The same goes for units of measurement. If you type “23 inches to cm” and search. The top result will do the conversion for you, and give you the option of chopping and changing with different units of measurement.
Easter Eggs (suprises to find)
Last but not least, and on a much less helpful note. The Google team have built in some amusing tweaks to their system that you may or may not have stumbled across during your online adventures. For example, try searching the term “tilt” or “askew”.
Also, try doing a Google images search on “Atari breakout” and see what happens when you move your mouse around. For more interesting little quirks, take a look through: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_hoaxes_and_easter_eggs
Hopefully one or two of you have learnt something of use from this article. Feel free to leave any tips or advice of your own in the comments below. Now go and do a Google search on yourself and see how well Google knows you!