Get smart with Google

There are currently over four billion web pages listed by Google. Here are Windows Middle East's hints to make finding the pages you want a whole lot easier and our guide to the many Google services available.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  September 23, 2004

Smarter Searching|~|November-Google-W-shop---m.jpg|~||~|Google is a full-text search engine, which means that rather than searching only the titles and descriptions of web sites (such as Yahoo!), it uses computerised 'spiders' to index billions of pages that can be searched by title or content, making narrower searches possible. Google's 'advanced search functionality' means you can construct more complex queries than simply typing 'jobs in Dubai' or 'ISPs Middle East'. You can, for instance, restrict results to languages, countries or web sites. Let’s examine what’s possible: Boolean basics When you run a web search using more than one keyword, a search engine needs to have a default method of handling these keywords in place. When you input two keywords for instance, does the engine search for both keywords or either? The key here is the 'Boolean default' the engine uses. Engines can default to AND (whereby they search for both or in the case of several, all keywords), or OR (when the engine searches for either word). Google's Boolean default is AND, meaning if you type LCD monitors Jordan, Google will search for each of these keywords. To specify that each word is acceptable, put an OR between each item (i.e. LCD OR monitors OR Jordan). If you definitely want to search for one term and have other terms to group with parentheses, use this approach instead: monitors (LCD OR Jordan). Should you want to specify that a query item does not appear in your search results, use a - (minus sign), like so: monitors LCD -Jordan. Google does not accept more than 10 query words. Neither does Google accept what's known as 'stemming', which is the ability to use an asterisk (or 'wildcard') in the place of letters in a query keyword (i.e. Jord*n). It does however accept asterisks as full word wildcards, meaning if you searched using three * mice, Google would find three blind mice, three small mice and so on. Exploring syntaxes Because Google is a full-text search engine, in addition to AND and OR, additional commands (known as special syntaxes) can be used to search precise parts of web pages or hunt out specific types of information. These can be very useful in helping narrow your searches and return more relevant results. Two of the most useful (and easiest to remember) special syntaxes specify that your query words must appear only in the title or URL of returned web pages. This approach helps you return very specific search results without having to make your keywords too specific. To restrict your search to the titles of web pages, make sure intitle: precedes your keyword(s), such as: intitle: middle east news. Similarly, to return results with your keyword(s) in the URL, try: inurl: middle east news. intext: searches a site's body text only and not its link text, URLs and titles. inanchor: meanwhile searches for text in a page's anchors, which are the descriptive text of a link. site: lets you narrow a search to either a site or a top-level domain, such as site: ae. link: only returns pages that link to the specified URL. This url could be a high level domain such as .org or intel.com, or what's known as a 'deep' URL, such as www.itp.net/news/details.php?id=12998&category=. It's even possible to search for pages that are no longer available at their original URL, using cache: This type of search finds the copy of the page that Google originally indexed, even if it is no longer available or the page’s content has since changed. If you are looking for a specific file or type of file, a PDF say, filetype: is the special syntax for you. Simply enter your keyword followed by the file extension, i.e. filetype: pdf. If you know when a page was indexed by Google, daterange: limits your search to a particular date or range of dates. Remember that Google regularly reindexes pages. However, the date range you should use to hunt out that page will only change from the original date range if the page's content has changed. daterange: works with Julian and not Gregorian dates. To clarify, the Gregorian calendar is the one we all use day-to-day. Luckily, there is an alternative to learning the Julian format or using an online Gregorian/Julian converter and that's to use the FaganFinder Google interface (www.faganfinder.com/engines/google.shtml). This page features a Gregorian pull-down date menu and also links to The Google Ultimate Interface, a page with an easy search interface covering some of the options detailed here. Alternatively, on Google's homepage click the Advanced Search link to the right of the main search text box. Here you can run a date search and various filters. You can even specify what language returned pages must be in. An interesting option is related: which is rather like a search engine version of Amazon's 'Customers who bought this item also bought' feature, in that it finds pages related to your specified page. If you type related: google.com for example, you'll return a listing of other search engines, while related: snowboarding returns links to snowboarding sites, magazines, skiing info and so on. info: provides a page of links to more information about a URL, such as a link to the URL's cache, pages that link or are related to that URL, and pages that contain that URL. Obviously, if Google has yet to index the URL, this info will be limited. Google is continually adding new special syntaxes. Keep an eye out online at sites like www.searchutilities.com. RECOMMENDED READING Books Google Hacks O'Reilly Media, 329 pages. www.oreilly.com Sites www.searchutilities.com www.googleguide.com||**||Google Services Explained...|~|Online-NOV-issue-goole-w-sh.jpg|~|Google Images is one of the web's easiest to search online picture archives|~|There's much more to Google than mere web searching, in fact you may be surprised by just how many different services it offers. Here's our quick Windows guide to what's hot and what's not. 1. Pictures galore www.google.com (click 'Images') Click the 'Image' link above the search box at Google. com and you'll be whisked to Google's searchable index of 880 million pictures from across the world wide web. Clicking 'Advanced Image Search' to the right of the search box lets you refine your search to take into account file type, size, coloration and the particular site or demain you want to search. A Windows favourite and among the best online. 2. Online news http://news.google.com/ Currently available in 10 versions, from US and UK specific portals to German and Spanish (but no Arabic), Google's up-to-date news is pulled from almost 10,000 online sources. As with everything Google, news content can be fully searched. Google News also automatically pulls together related headlines, enabling you to see different viewpoints on the same story. The only thing that's missing is links to recent related stories, such as those offered by the BBC's online news site. Also includes a very useful tool in the form of Google's News Alerts. Just click the alerts link, enter keywords relating to the topic you're interested in, and you'll be sent relevant (or at least largely relevant) stories via e-mail. A great little service. 3. Quicker searches http://toolbar.google.com/ Search the web without having to open Google's web page first. Simply download the Google Toolbar; an invaluable tool for any Google user. In addition to Google's standard search functions, the toolbar also includes access to other Google services, such as Froogle (see 4), Google's News pages, a pop-up blocker and BlogThis!, which allows you to add the web page you're at to your personal Blogger.com journal site. 4. Act Froogle www.google.com (click 'More', then 'Froogle') Google's online shopping engine, like Google's News service, is currently being tested and is available only in beta form. Froogle applies Google’s search technology to a very specific task, namely locating stores that sell the items you're looking for. At present Froogle isn't too hot though, thanks to the stores it finds being US based. 5. easy Newsgroups www.google.com (click 'Groups') Navigating online discussion groups has never been easier thanks to Google Groups, through which you can search, read and browse groups, and post messages of your own. Google Groups contains the entire archive of Usenet Internet discussion groups, dating all the way back to 1981 (that's over 845 million posted messages!). Excellent. 6. handy google http://news.google.com/wireless/ If you log on via a mobile handset, Google Wireless will help you surf both what Google terms the “mobile web” (those five million or so pages created for wireless devices) and Google's full index of four billion standard web pages. Google Wireless supports common mobile Internet standards, including WML, HDML and HTML, and i-mode and J-Sky compatible HTML mobile net standards. 7. Go direct http://www.google.com/dirhp A slightly different method of searching, Google's Web Directory lets you browse and search for info via web sites that have been organised into categories, combining Google's search technology with the Open Directory Project’s categorisation. Interesting but hardly essential. 8. Google Local http://local.google.com/ Designed to help you find relevant local information based on postal codes, cities or specific addresses, this service is currently US based and therefore of limited use. 9. Paid for help http://answers.google.com/answers/ A novel service that offers to answer your tricky posers via the help of one of Google's 500 researchers. Ask pretty much any question you like (a surreal example we came across was 'At what altitude will pressure cause a champagne cork to spontaneously pop?'). When submitting a question, also specify how much you're willing to pay for the answer. Should Google's researchers not come up with the goods, your fellow netizens' online comments may prove useful. You'll need to sign up for a (free) Google account to use this interesting service. 10. Google Catalogs http://catalogs.google.com/ Set-up to provide access to the full content of more than 6,600 mail-order catalogs, Google Catalogs is US based and very limited at present. Not much to sing about. 11. Google Print http://print.google.com/print/faq.html Currently only being trialled in beta form, Google Print has been designed to bring info online that was previously unavailable to web searchers. Google has experimented with publishers to host their content and rank their publications in its search results, the same way it evaluates and lists web sites. Has its work cut out in competition with sites like Amazon. 12. Tech central http://labs.google.com/ Google Labs is described as Google’s "playground for (our) engineers and for adventurous Google users." This site is used to post product prototypes and solicit feedback on how to improve services. Current Google Labs projects include Google Personalized Search (which provides search results based on your interests) and Google Deskbar (available to download now, this allows you to search Google via your PC's taskbar). 13. Get blogging www.blogger.com Google's own web-based publishing tool. It's free to use and lets you publish to the web instantly using weblogs, or 'blogs.' The templates offered are well designed, though sadly pics cannot yet be uploaded.||**||

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