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How to Better Use Google

My favorite search engine, like many of yours, is Google. I was one of the first few thousand people to start using it shortly after it went beta out of Stanford in the late 90s. It was obvious that it was far better than anything else out there and the company has continued to excel. Their commitment to excellence, integrity and focusing is a model for all of us who have web sites.

Google has transformed the way we find things in life. Many of us, however, are not aware of how we can improve our searches with this fabulous tool. Last week Google introduced a local search that allows you to find businesses, maps, driving directions, street addresses, and phone numbers for businesses within a few miles of your home. Nearly four years ago I posted a page on how to improve your searches. It is sorely in need of an update and the guide listed below is a wonderful resource. The link has an online Google tutorial that will occupy from 0.5 to 8 hours, depending on how many sections you elect to skip, and how many of the examples and problems you work through. Most people spend about half an hour at a time, and two hours total. Some of its highlights are:

  • Looking up phone numbers You can just enter a company or person's name and a city, state, or zip code in the standard Web search box.
  • Finding a definition. If Google finds any dictionary definitions for your search terms, it shows those words as underlined links in the statistics bar section of the results page, which is located below the search box showing your query.
  • When you include define, what is, or what are in your query in front of a word, phrase, or acronym, Google displays one glossary definition above your search results.
  • Google Calculator It isn't Mathematica but it's free and may be good enough for your purposes. It can add up a list of numbers, convert from miles to kilometers, or evaluate some other mathematical expression. Simply enter the expression you'd like evaluated in Google's Web search box and hit the enter key or click the "Google Search" button.
  • Google Answers If you don't have time to research the topic yourself, ask Google Answers, which, for a fee as little as $2.50, provides assistance from researchers with expertise in online searching.

Google Guide

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