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How to add more power to Google

Last updated on: March 4, 2011 13:00 IST

How to add more power to Google

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Daniel Russell

When you want to find out something about the purple bird you  last saw at the Lotus Pond in Hyderabad, you are most likely to type a Google query like 'purple water bird Lotus Pond' and voila! you would discover the Purple Moorhen on your screen.

Then, if you Google 'Purple Moorhen', you will learn the bird's scientific Latin name 'Porphyrio porphyrio', the fact that it is found in India, Australia and Africa and how the state of Florida is trying to eradicate its accidentally-introduced population.

Most Google searchers, thus, with just a bit more inside information, can become super searchers. With these tips, you'll be an expert in almost no time.

Find a word on the page

Have you ever done a search and then discovered that you're on a very long web page and have no idea where your search words are?

Click on it and you'll see the submenu item labelled 'Find.' 

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: A staff takes a nap in a nap pod that blocks out light and sound at Google headquarters, California.
Photographs: Erin Siegal/Reuters
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This happens fairly often. What you can do is just look for the Edit menu.

If you click on that, you'll see a small window that let's you search for any word on the page.

This is a lifesaver when you're searching for a particular word and it's found only on the 10th screen down. 

Install the Google Toolbar

The Toolbar, offered for all the different internet browsers, lets you do a plethora of things to help you search, including bookmarking good web pages and translating terms you see on the page, among other things.

The one Google Toolbar feature that really powers users is the highlight button. 

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: (L to R) Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a self-driving car.
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If you do a search on Google and end up on a page (say, the Wikipedia page about Purple Moorhens), when you click on the highlighter button, it will highlight all the appearances of your search words on that page.

Explore different Google search properties

Google lets you search the web for images and videos as well. But did you know that Google also lets you search through the collected news archives going back to the mid 1800s?

You can search for scanned copies of books and magazines (www.books.Google.com), financial information about companies (www.Google.com/finance), scholarly articles from scientific journals and conferences (www.Google.com/scholar) and blogs (www.blogsearch.Google.com).

What's more, Google Translate can transliterate words from English to Hindi and back (Urdu is in alpha, with other Indic languages on the way).

You can also use this service to translate documents or web pages.

Click NEXT to read further. . .


Image: At the Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA employees work in their shared offices.
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Use short, simple queries

A common mistake beginners make is to use too many words in their query. All those extra words actually decrease the accuracy of the search results.

Use the Advanced Search option

All Google search properties have an 'Advanced Search' feature for those who want a little more control over their searches.

Look for the blue 'Advanced Search' text to the right of the search button on Google search pages.

With Advanced Search you can search for web pages that are only in a particular language or that come from a particular site.

Use 'DEFINE'

To learn what a word really means use DEFINE. All it does is search for definitions of terms (or phrases).

Click NEXT to read further. . .


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For example, you might think you know what a 'credit derivative' is, but by doing the Google query 'DEFINE: credit derivative' you can find out for sure.

DEFINE is not dictionary-based.

Google picks up words and phrases, as new ones enter the language.

A case in point, 'DEFINE: ROTL' or 'DEFINE:BRB', both are common in instant messaging and text messages, but haven't yet reached any conventional dictionaries.

Use context search terms judiciously

If you need to learn about superconductor technology quickly, use a search that includes a context term like 'tutorial.'

Click NEXT to read further. . .


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Other context terms that people find useful are DIY or how to (to find do-it-yourself guides), guideline (to find suggestions and guides), curriculum, lesson plans and summary are good context terms to help find particular types of content.

Use the minus sign

You can use it to eliminate unwanted results. If, for example, you're searching for the jazz standard song, recorded by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and others, that includes the lyric It was just one of those things, but the song in question is not Cole Porter's Just one of Those Things, then change the query to it was just one of those things Billie Holiday -- Porter.

You'll eliminate all the Cole Porter songs.

Daniel Russell is an expert on search quality and is based out of  Google's California office


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