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November 2002 Efficiency Newsletter

Using Google's Advanced Search Features

While there are a myriad of things we could all do to improve our speed and accuracy while searching the web, understanding Google just a little better can help us quite a bit. As you probably know, Google is the most popular and arguably the most powerful search engine there is. Google has visited and stored the entire text of over 2.5 billion web pages, thus giving you the ability to find anything you need--regardless of in what format or language the page was created. But to be able to search this wide array of pages and find exactly the page you're looking for, you'll want to become familiar with Google's advanced search features. And the best way to do this is to examine the screen capture below:

In general, the function of the Google "Advanced Search" page is to allow for more exact and restricted searches. For instance, if you wanted to find information about Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech, typing the speech's title into a normal search window would return no valuable results. But by typing it into field (2), thereby searching for the exact phrase "to be or not to be," you'd get the results in which you're interested. (And if you turn the (10) safe search on, you may be a little happier with your results to this latter search...) All of the optional fields above can serve useful purposes, so I'm going to explain them in the following table:

(1) The default search: the same search that's found on the google.com homepage. Returns results based on the search terms' occurrences in a page combined with Google's calculation of how popular that page is (known as PageRank).

(2) An exact phrase search: only returns results that have the entire phrase for which you're searching, which is great for song lyrics, quotations, proper names, etc.

(3) Searching for one word or another but not necessarily both: returns results that contain words A or B where "A B" is entered into this field. This is great for searches that may have plural versions of the same search terms like "mouse mice."

(4) Exclusion search: returns results that DO NOT contain the term(s). A good use would be to exclude the word "Microsoft" on a search for "word." In this case you'd enter "Microsoft" into (4) and "Word" into (1).

(5) Search based on a language. If you are only interested in results in English, Spanish, Japanese, etc, select the language you'd like to search. The default is to search pages in all languages.

(6) Search only for files of a certain type. If you are interested in presentations on a certain topic, selecting "Microsoft PowerPoint" from this menu will only return presentations in your results.

(7) Search by date: If you are interested in the most current information then use this field to restrict your results. This is very useful for searches on science and technology information that's on the cutting edge.

(8) Search by where the terms occur in the page. This is very useful if you're looking for a term and you're more concerned with it being the topic of the page rather than merely a term that occurs in the text of an otherwise popular page. By selecting "in the title of the page" here you can narrow in on the results you want.

(9) Search a single site. This is great if you're only interested in searching a particular resource. Since google has some of the fastest and most accurate search tools, searching its database may be faster than using a site's own search engine. And, even if the page no longer exists on the site in question, you can always click on "Cached" to see what the page once looked like.

(10) Restrict your results to non-adult related material. By using Safe Search you can filter out the vast majority of pornographic and sexual material that might come up in a search with the terms you entered above.

(11) Returns results similar to a particular webpage. For instance, by entering www.microsoft.com into this field, you'll find links to other big technology-related sites, such as Apple, Macromedia, and IBM.

(12) Returns results that link to the page you enter. This is a great feature for finding out who is linked to your own website, either as friends or enemies. It's a good idea to test this tool out every few months to see if your site has gained any new interest on the 'Net.

Okay, I admit, that's a lot of tools to keep track of. But there's only one thing you need to do get out of this: use the Google Advanced Search page. You'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by just using one or two of these features every once in a while. Enjoy!

By the way, here's the easiest way to get to the Advanced Search page. Go to www.google.com and thenclick on Advanced Search (Link A). or, click on Advanced Search from any results window (Link B).

(Link A)

(Link B)

These tips were brought to you by Jared Goralnick. He'd be happy to answer any questions and may be reached at john@setconsulting.com.

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