Thanks to a unique algorithm that produces most relevant results to any given query, Google has become, indisputably, the best search engine on the Internet. On the last count, Google has indexed over 4 billion pages and tackles around 200 million searches a day! A cluster of 100 thousand servers are used to store, crunch and spew out the query results with lightning speed that you are so accustomed to see.
This phenomenal growth has made Google from a garage startup to an Internet behemoth faster than any company has done before. The prodigies behind this unique search engine, Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the process already got enlisted themselves in billionaire club.
Google is no longer a mere search engine! It is increasingly broadening its offerings to include great new services and excellent tools. Among these services, most notables are News - a news aggregation and searching service, Blogger - an online journal-keeping solution, Froogle - a marketplace for comparison shopping, Groups - online discussion groups, Answers - a place to get hard-to-find information for a price, etc.
Google also recently unveiled two more programs. Orkut - a social networking service and Gmail - a free web mail service. Orkut is an online community, where a person can participate in it by invitation from a member only.
If you constantly frown over limited space of your hotmail or Yahoo accounts because they get filled up with junk mails and force you to delete old messages frequently, you will love Gmail with its 1 GB of storage capacity. There are several great features available in Gmail system too. One of them, dubbed as Conversations, allow you to view all exchange mails with somebody, once you select one of the mails. Sorting and searching emails also become much easier with Gmail. The only catch is Gmail displays relevant ads - based on the keywords found in your email - on the right side of the screen when you view an email, much like Google displays ads when you view search results.
Although, Google is constantly adding new and extremely useful features, most of us unfortunately do not use all the capacities of the search engine itself. The following tips will make your Internet browsing more effective if even you are an avid net user.
Choose most specific search words
Google returns web pages that contain all the words in your query. If you would like to see the most relevant pages on the first page of your search result, be very specific with your choice of words. For example: if you would like to research on former NHL hockey player Makarov, you should start your search with Makarov not hockey player. Even better if you search for the words: hockey player Makarov. Because just the word Makarov will show web pages on "Makarov" a Russian-made handgun and numerous other people and products with the name Makarov. Refining your query in Google means adding more specific words to your initial search. In this example you will hit the right web pages if your search contains: NHL hockey player Makarov.
Sets - a new feature
What if you are looking for a pair of Valentino designer jeans but can't recall the name of the designer? Query on Italian designer jeans may bring you the right result; however, there is a better tool that Google is planning to implement soon, called "Sets".
Fill up the names of some designers that you remember in the given form such as Levis, Wrangler, Versace and click either of the two buttons and voila! You will get a list of designers name and probably, Valentino will be there. But bear in mind that this feature is still at Beta stage.
The other day, I was sitting in a colleague's office. She needed to calculate some basic stuffs and looking for her calculator on her desk. Much to her dismay, she could not find the calculator and started to fumble through her computer programs in her attempt to find Microsoft calculator. I noticed that she was online and the browser was open. I, politely, asked her whether she knew that Google could actually calculate most common mathematical expressions. It came out to be, she did not! She was just amazed after trying it herself. Google is even capable of unit conversion! Give it a try!
If you are looking for a definition of a particular word or a phrase, Google is the best place to get it. In Google search box, write "define: the word or phrase" without the quotation marks and click search button. If there is a definition available for your search term you will, most certainly, get it. It's a very useful feature for students and people, those who write research papers.
You may think that search engines are too dumb to show query results of the synonyms of your search term. It's not so! At least, in the case of Google! If you use tilde "~" in front of a keyword in your search term, Google will bring results on the synonyms of that word as well.
Searching within a website
Another great feature of Google search engine allows you to make your query within a specific website. First you write your search term in the Google search box and then write "site: the website or domain name". For example: if you are looking for word "Microsoft" within the website www.micromedia.com you will write: Microsoft site: micromedia.com.
Check backward links to your website
If you have a website, Google search engine also has a nice feature to show you which web pages are linking to yours. In the search box, write: Link: you website address.
Other important tips to remember are:
* There is no need to use "AND". Google always relate all the words in a search term with Boolean "and".
* However, if you would like to make your query for two words - one or another - you can use "OR". You have to write "or" in capital letters to give it Boolean value.
* Google is not case sensitive. You can write your search terms either in capital or in small letters. You can even mix them up.
* Google omits most of the very common words, such as the, in, etc. If you, indeed, need to add a specific word forcefully, use plus (+) sign in front of that particular word. Same way, you can exclude a word from your search expression by putting minus (-) sign in front it.
* If you would like to make a search on an exact phrase or expression, put the words within quotation marks. That way, your search result will show only those pages where the exact expression was found. In order to search the phrase: For whom the bell tolls, write "For whom the bell tolls" in the search box.
I'll also suggest you to download the Google Toolbar. Apart from the search box and its ability to block pop-ups, Google Toolbar also shows the pagerank of the website you are visiting now. Pagerank is a system of evaluating web pages - developed by Google founders and used as the core of Google's search engine algorithm. The Toolbar also includes feature with the ability to fill up online forms from stored information automatically. You can also keep your daily journal or blog right from the toolbar.
Much to net users delight, Google, in accordance with its ambitious mission statement to organize world's information and make it universally useful and accessible, so far doing a great job by providing us the best search engine and extremely handy features and services. We can only hope that the flow of innovative ideas from Google will not slow down in future, when it becomes a public company.
About the author
Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of Rusbiz.com. A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he has wide experience in Business Consulting, International Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a Global B2B Emarketplace with solutions to start and run online business. You can contact him at mailto:nowshade[at]rusbiz.com, http://ezine.rusbiz.com, http://www.rusbiz.com