OK, first things first: the real simple stuff. Don't make querries like "I want to know
how an engine works". Google isn't your schoolteacher. You've got to be specific. Drop the "I want to know how an", and explain what kind of engine you want. If you want to search for a specific phrase, "put it in quotes" or just put.a.dot.between.the.words. If you want to ensure that a specific word or phrase is in the page without a shadow of doubt, stick a + infront of it. If you want to ensure that it isn't in the page, stick a - in front. These signs must be touching the word. car +engines +electric -gasoline is a basic search you would probably want to do in order to find information about electric car engines. You still get lots of other stuff though.
Now to get a little more complex. Say you've been to the site you want, and you remember
part of the url, but not all. You don't want to search through millions of hits again. The answer is simple: put in your usual query, and add inurl:"[something]". For example, car +engines +electric -gasoline inurl:"howstuffworks" will filter out
only results that contain howstuffworks in the URL. This is particularly useful if you're searching a particular site, or a particular group of sites, for something. A
shootoff of this command is allinurl, in which case you can use multiple parts of
the url you remember.
Now, given at least part of a page title, you can narrow your search even more with the
intitle: command which works much the same way as the inurl command, just with the title. So, we remember that the title contained "How Electric Cars" do something or other. So, our new querry would be car +engines +electric -gasoline inurl:"howstuffworks" intitle:"How Electric Cars". This is also quite useful to find an open directory, by searching for the title "Index of /[whatever]/", possibly with the inurl:"[whatever] to help it along. Once again, there is the allintitle derivative.
- Google can use words or phrases. To make google treat a set of words as an exact
phrase, wrap it with quotationmarks (") or replace the spaces with periods: "fast
food" or fast. food.
- Google has several operators. In other words, symbols that make it behave differently.
The most common of these operators is probably the + sign, which tells google that the
word or phrase in quotations that it is stuck to is essential to the search: GTA3
- Along with the + comes the -, which indicates that the word or phrase it is stuck to
must not be included in the search. To use their example: bass -music to
indicate that you're interested in the fish, not the instrument.
- By default, google searches with an "AND" operator between the words: a page will be
pulled up if it fits all the criteria in your search. However, it can also function
with "OR". To do this, simply put an OR (in caps) between the words. Once again, to use
their example: vacation london OR paris will pull up sites that talk about
vacations in London or Paris.
- Often, you want to search for a particular idea or concept, rather than a particular
word, and obviously sticking in all the synonyms with ORs between them would be awfully
tedious. That's why google has the ~ operator, which means 'synonym': ~conflict
iraq would pull up pages about the conflict in Iraq, the war in Iraq,
Using the Cache
Have you ever used the cache? Most people havn't. Most people don't even know what it is, except that when they click it, the page gets an ugly box on top, words are highlighted in annoying colors, and most of the pictures don't work. So what is the cache? Every so often, Google crawls the internet, and saves the pages. Basically when you view the cache of a webpage, you are in fact looking at Google's local copy. The official purpose of this is to be able to show pages that are currently down or not available, or to highlight your searchwords. However, one can also use it to view a site without actually going to the site (awfully clumsy, as any link you click will send you to the original site), and especially often you can get a directory listing of a directory that has had an index.html stuck into it since, allowing you to find out more about the site.
Using the Language Tools
I know, the language tools are really still in development. You can get ugly things like
je n'ai plus de gauche instead of j'en ai plus for 'I have none left' in
french. It takes you at your word. However, it will often provide a rudimentary idea of
what the page you're trying to view is about, and can be particularly useful if the page
you want to see is in Chinese or something, or any language which your browser does not
display propperly. However, awfully useful is the translation from English to English.
Take google's translation of www.osix.net from English to French.
The url is:
Notice the en|fr. Before when we selected the languages, it gave us only a few
specific possibilities. Now, we can do what we want, such as English to English (note that any unsupported languages, such as gdhsauifg, will not give you much). Why on earth would we want to do that? Simple. Technically you're not viewing the site itself. You're just on Google. You never actually visit the site, and the site never actually talks to you.