"You don’t have to do things a certain way
just because that’s how you’ve always done them. Open yourself up to trying new ways of organizing and making
the most out of the tools available- should you choose to use them."
- Doug Merrill
Douglas C. Merrill holds a Ph.D. from Princeton in Cognitive Science and is the former
Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) at Google. His book is "Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff Out of Your
Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right."
"A better searcher can filter out what’s not important and focus on what is. The
ability to perform quick targeted searches helps you find the information you need faster. You don’t have to expend
mental capacity trying to anticipate where to look for a piece of information or trying to figure out where the heck to put
it. Just search for what you want, and voilá."
Here are some strategies and tips for getting the best results from your searches.
Google uses automated software agents called crawlers, also known as spiders or robots.
Crawlers visit web sites frequently, reading and capturing most of a page’s text as well as following links to other
pages within the site.
The crawler collects info about a site and adds to the search engine’s index of web
pages. When you perform a query, the search engine rapidly analyzes the info in its index to find matches. The results of
your search are listed in order of relevance, with the most relevant pages listed first (not the paid-for results listed on
Google’s PageRank algorithm is based on "educated guesses" and "site trustworthiness."
But sometimes the results are too broad (for instance, type in ‘videoconferencing’ and you’ll get more than
two million search results. Type in ‘apple’ and you’ll get millions more).
To better pinpoint your results you need to
give more specific instructions. Be as descriptive
Add "quote" marks and the ~ tilde symbol.
If you search for ‘paris hotels,’ Google
will search for pages in which the phrase– where the two words are used somewhere in relatively close proximity to one
another. That’s not necessarily helpful if you are looking for a hotel with cheap rates. For that you should type this
"Paris hotels" ~affordable
Placing the tilde symbol (~) immediately before
a word tells Google to look for pages with the word affordable– and others like it, such as cheap, budget, economy,
The tilde is a wild card, giving Google carte blanche
to find all the pages it thinks have words similar to affordable.
You can also use the standard search operator OR.
With OR, you could search this way:
"Paris hotels" affordable OR cheap OR budget
OR will return fewer results because you’re
asking for pages containing only the words you specify. So if you’re trying to narrow your results, use OR and specify
the synonyms you want.
Exclude what you don’t want. If you use the
minus symbol (-) immediately before a word, Google will eliminate it from your search.
Be specific with numeric ranges.
The ellipsis (...), three periods, can express
a range of numbers. If you’re shopping for an item in a certain price range, here’s an example:
"Digital camera" $100...$250.
You can also use Google to search a specific website.
The command for this is site: (with no space after the colon) followed by the URL of the site you want to search. If you wanted
to see articles about Paris hotels in the New York Times, try this:
"Paris hotels" site:nytimes.com
You can access Excell spreadsheets, Pdf files,
Word files, and PowerPoint files, as follows: (type the subject between the quote marks.)
for Excell "personal budget" filetype:xls
for PDF "personal budget: filetype:pdf
for Word "personal budget" filetype:doc
for Power Point "personal budget" filetype:ppt
Google isn’t just for finding web pages.
Use it as a calculator and look up all kinds of facts. Perhaps there’s a particular statistic you need to find. Here’s
example: 100 euros in dollars (or) 100 euros in
or do it in reverse, or with pesos, yens, etc.
Google converts liquid, distance, and other measures.
Here are examples for searches:
1 mile in km
pound in ounces
inch in mm
What time is it in Paris? Find out:
What’s the weather?:
Find a map. Just type in the street
address and city.
Want to know your flight status? Enter your
airline and flight number, for example:
American Airlines 123
Translations of English into foreign languages?
Just go to translate.google.com Type in whatever you want translated and what language you want it converted into.
(Yahoo has a similar tool at babelfish.yahoo.com)
Need to know a word definition? Can’t
remember what discombobulated means? Do this search:
Trace a caller (when you know the
number but not the 'who.'
Try this: phonebook: 212-555-1212
Need someone’s phone number? Try this:
phonebook: Jane Smith Anywhere NY
Need a stock quote?
To get a current quote when you don’t
know the stock exchange symbol, try this:
Find the status of your shipment via
FedEx, UPS or another shipper. Type the tracking number into Google search and you’ll get an update on the package’s
Google search is also a calculator in disguise.
Use the standard symbols: * for multiplied by, / for divided by, and so on. The answer will pop up. Even math geeks can get
answers form complex equations such as 5*9+(sqrt10)^3=
In case you’re wondering, the answer is 76.6227766.
Use the search engine as a spell checker.
Type what you think is right (or close) and Google will suggest the correct spelling, or it will search for pages containing
the word or phrase properly spelled. But beware: Google won’t always know what you mean by your misspelled word, i.e.,
it’s not a mind reader.
You can find theater showings and movie
times by typing in the movie and your zip code, for instance:
Also, you can look up all sorts of basic information
just by sending a text message to Google at 466453. Save the cost of making a directory assistance call. Get the phone
number by texting the name and city, for instance:
Drake Hotel Chicago
If you dial 800-466-4411 Google will look up a
business by name, city and state, and then automatically connect you.
More helpful trivia about the Google search engine:
You don’t need to type most common words
and characters, such as a, and, how, where, and the into a search engine query. If a common word is essential, however, the
best approach is to include the entire phrase in quote marks. Consider the middle initial of ‘A.’
If you type in James A. Dunlop, you’ll also
get James H. Dunlop, James C. Dunlop, etc. So go for "james a dunlop" for better results.
Know that Google automatically searches for pages
with common variations of a keyword. If you type in the word exercise, you’ll also get exercises, exercised, and exercising.
Google search also works on you own computer.
You can search entire program and file contents of your Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system by using the desktop utility
(P.S. Search words are not case sensitive, so you
can type Paris or paris and get the same results.)
Go therefore and search and find!