Tuesday, March 6, 2012

6:57 AM

Smart Googling

Ever felt the need to look up some information on a topic from any subject? Or perhaps the lyrics for that great song you heard the day before? . . . . Or may be the song itself?? Odds are in the favour that you “googled” your query instead of trying out a website that was more topic intensive. And you are very much justified for doing so. Googling your search not only returns results rapidly (read: relevant) but also, akin to magic, increases your chances of obtaining exactly what you wanted instead of unnecessary pop-ups, registrations and what-not.

The beginnings of Google can be traced back to the research paper of Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page from Stanford University, Stanford on the topic: The Anatomy of a Large-scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. For those who have the superhuman ability to read after writing tons of assignments the paper can be accessed at the URL: http://tinyurl.com./y98mbt.

A typical search on the Google search engine yields around a billion web-pages but experience has taught us only the first 100 are worth a look. The relevance of the pages found can be substantially increased using some of the simple tools offered by Google. Here is some advice and tips that can be used to maximize your results:

The most general advice: use specific search terms instead of vague terms. The Google search engine is NOT case-specific, but the order of words typed in does effect the search results. The Google search engine removes all words in the search phrase that do not convey any information (generally termed as Stopwords: in, on, or, the . . . . Etc) or are redundant, given other words in the search phrase. Even when the words are treated as optional, they are used in judging the relevance of the pages, and so, the search results will be different for “Tower of Pisa” and “Tower in Pisa”. If one of the excluded word is important to your search, just prefix it with a ‘+’ and pages containing it will be listed ahead of those that don’t.

Google tends to substitute your search words to display more search results, this can be in the form of singular-plural (gauge: gauges), synonyms (UC Berkeley law school: Boalt law school), abbreviations (FRC: Family Research Council, functional Residual Capacity, . . . .) , combined and split words (bootstrap: boot strap), and accents (cafĂ©: cafe). This can again be overwritten by adding ‘+’ before the word being replaced and for a deliberate synonym search add a tilde ‘~’ after the word you want a synonym for. When searching for specific phrases putting a quote around them gives more relevant results. This is particularly effective in searching for proper names (“Russell Peters”), lyrics (“sutta naa mila”) or famous phrases (“Tryst with destiny”). When searching for words with multiple meaning adding a minus sign (“-“) in front of words with related to the meaning you want to avoid will focus your results better.

 For example when searching for cranberries the fruit and not the band this will work better: cranberries band. When including a negative term be sure term be sure to include the space before the “-“sign. If you want to search phrases adding a capital OR works: band creed OR alter bridge. For finding the definitions of a particular word prefix the word with “define “operator. Search phrase can include numeric range as in: “Watches $20 . . . . $200 “. Site specific searches can be performed by adding “site: ” after the search phrase. This is most commonly used by websites that have the Google search bar embedded in their page. Apart from html pages Google searches 12 file formats that include, the now ubiquitous PDF documents, Office formats, Lotus formats, Corel Word-perfect among others. For searching in a specific file format add “file type: “when searching. Google has great features for searching music and movies. Typing in name of a band gives the listing of their albums and their most famous songs, along with a link to more music related search results. If you forgotten the Matrix (yeah . . . like that’ll ever happen. . .) typing in something like “movie: red pill blue pill “will actually take you to pages containing info about the Matrix Trilogy.

When you are sure your search phrase will give you the most relevant results you can simply click the “ I am feeling lucky “ button and instead of going to the search result page you will be directly taken to the most relevant website that was obtained for your query.

Along with these functionalities Google has specific listing under books, news headlines, product search, images, local search, phone-book, fact based queries (Q&A), street maps, weather and other odds and ends. Google also provides a plethora of preferences for: language translation, viewing languages ( 7 Indian and 43 International to date ), a Safe Search filter that filters explicit pictures by default and can be tweaked to remove inappropriate text too!, providing up to 100 search results per page and other setting. But the only drawback is that these settings are cookie based and will be lost once the cookies are flushed from your computer.

Another mentionable web-search integrated service provided by Google is iGoogle (http://www.google.com/ig) which is an personalized AJAX based web-page that involves ‘gadgets’ much like ‘widgets’ for the desktop and themes and tabbed interesting feature is that it has a drag-and-drop interface! It can even be linked to your g-mail account.

Google Cheat sheet:

Operator Example
Find Page containing.
iPod OR Zune
Gets result for iPod or Zune
To be or not to be
Find pages containing the phrase “To be or not to be
Virus- pathogen
The word virus but not the word pathogen.
Only the word bag not plural or tense or synonyms.
Info on mobile and synonyms
Define: Blasphemy
Definition of the word  Blasphemy
Bag * baggage
Page with Bag and baggage separated by one or more word
I am feeling lucky
Takes you to directly to the first search result

Advance operators
What to type in
Search only one site
Cars site:www.cararage.com
Numeric range search
DVD players $ 150...200
Linked pages
Info about a page
Related pages

Google, since its conception has evolved from just a search engine into a multi-million dollar company, with some really feature rich and unique products: Picasa, google earth . . . to name a few. Try out a few an amazing experiences and oh yes! . . . Have a happy time Googling.

Author Bio:

This is guest post by Ashish Kamble who is owner of Parigh Technologies which provides Good SEO services.