Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Improving Google

Can you improve on perfection? Google is wonderful - simple to use and always (well, almost always) finds the answers. It seems rather churlish to grumble, but really, who has time to go through all those results it finds? Luckily there are ways of using Google that are still simple, but get you less results and more relevant results.

From your Google search box look to the side for the link to Google Advanced Search. This has the benefit of being a fill-in-the-boxes type search, so you don't need to remember any fancy codes - you just type the words you want where you want them. Among other things it allows you to specify that you want two or more words to appear as a phrase or to exclude words you don't want.

If you prefer to stick to the Google search box you know and love then there are ways of telling Google that you want something as a phrase or you want to exclude a particular word. If you want medical ethics to appear as a phrase then put it in quote marks - "medical ethics". If you don't necessarily want words side by side, but would like them near to each other, put an asterisk * between the words - medical * ethics.

Some words Google takes for granted. If you type two words (aspirin stroke) it will assume you want both of those things, so there is no need to type aspirin and stroke. Google also thinks about plurals, so if you ask for cake it will also look for cakes.

As with any other search engine the more specific you are the less you will retrieve. So diabetes retrieved for me, just now, 78,800,800 hits. Diabetes recipes gives 2,260,000. Diabetes recipes cake 1,260,000 and diabetes recipes "carrot cake" just 34,600. Conversely, if you aren't finding enough information then take words out of your search and be more general.

Finally, Google comes in different flavours, as it were. There is an image search, a maps search and a news search - click the links above the search box to find these.

Google has a page of tips on searching and a "cheat sheet" listing all the various ways of making Google even better.

No comments: