Tips on how to maximize your Google searches
Google has become the most widely used search engine for a very good reason -- it's incredible effective and simple to use. Google is so popular that it has even become a verb, as in to "Google" someone. Most people, however, don't even scratch the surface when it comes to fully utilizing this tool.
Valerie Koenig, a market research consultant who has become an expert on the use of Google, and lectures on this subject at University of Hawaii Outreach College, recently provided us some of her favorite tips:
Tip No. 1: Download Google's tools. From Google's home page click on "more" and click again on "Google downloads," in the left-hand column. There are five useful downloads.
» The Google Toolbar, which allows Google searches from the desktop without opening a browser
» The Google Desktop, which allows you to find just about any word file instantly just by typing in the name or the name of a string of words in the file. It searches both files and e-mails.
» Picassa, which manages images - great for huge collections of digital images or heavy graphic users
» Google Earth, which allows you to see maps and satellite images of any place on earth. You can find your own home with this
» Google Talk, which provides free conversation and Web cam using Voice Over Internet Protocol.
Tip No. 2: Set your Preferences. Go to Google's main page and look for the "preferences" text link. Use preferences selection to filter out adult content (not only for Web searches but for Images, Froogle -- all Google searches. This is a must for any parent concerned about their children making unsupervised searches.
Tip No. 3: Use Advanced Search. Also found on Google's main page this allows you to limit searches to a date, a language, a specific Web site or a specific type of Web site. Thus, if you're looking for Linda Lingle's most recent speech, you can limit your search to ".gov" listings.
One comment: When typing your search string, note that Google is "case insensitive." For example George Washington or geOrge waSHingTon will return exactly the same results.
Tip No. 4: Use Google Local. This is a search engine combined with a map so that you can locate places of business geographically. Try typing in the precise type of store along with a zip code (or city or state) for a list of locations in your area. If you type in "cafes 96816," you'll get Coffee Talk in Kaimuki. Then click on the red balloon and you'll get a description of Coffee Talk's business hours, the fact that they take credit cards, any Web reviews, and more.
Tip No. 5: Use Froogle. This is a shopping search engine that allows you to search by price, make, model, year, etc. It's best to articulate precisely what you want to get the best results. For example, if you're in the market for a laptop and you want to buy a Thinkpad, type in "Thinkpad," or better yet the model number. The results can be sorted by price or relevance. You can narrow results by categories such as price range, brands, etc.
general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, has been a telecommunications and computer expert for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org