Maximize your Googling efforts

Let’s face it: if you spend time online, and you do any amount of searching, you Google. That is, you use Google’s search engine to find the arcane or obscure information you’re looking for.
Yet as simple and effective as Google is, it has many powerful tools you may not even be aware of.
Let’s take a quick look at Google’s history. Started in a garage in Menlo Park, Calif. in 1998, Google has become the foremost search engine on the Web—handling more than 200 million searches a day and searching more than three billion pages.
It also offers search results in 35 different languages.
And, unlike its competitors like Yahoo and MSN, it doesn’t try to be “all things to all people.” Google does one thing: search.
Well, enough of that. Let’s talk about ways you can make the most of your searches.
1. Use quotation marks
Let’s say I sculpt cheese as a hobby (I don’t, honest). If I search for cheese sculpture, I get more than 75,000 results which, while it does include “Wisconsin-born cheese sculptor Sarah Baumann,” Google also returns “Andrew Cheese’s Sculpture Gallery.”
If I try the same search term but enclosed in quotation marks (i.e., “cheese sculpture” ), I narrow my results down to just 628 results, including the unnerving Sarah Baumann.
2. Use the plus sign
Google will ignore common words like “where,” “a,” and “like” in searches, as well as single digits. So, if I search for how to sculpt cheese, Google ignores the how to portion.
But in this case, those two words are critical to getting the right results, so I can force Google to include them by adding “+” symbols before each word.
When I search +How +to sculpt cheese, I get much more accurate results.
3. Use the minus sign
Let’s say my cheese-sculpting hobby (hypothetical, remember?) focuses on sculpting all kinds of cheeses except cheddar. Google will let you exclude a search term by placing a “-” symbol at the beginning of the word.
So, I can search for cheese sculpture -cheddar and I’ll get results that include “Easy Cheese in a Can Sculpting Parties.” Nope, no cheddar there. Probably no real cheese there, either.
4. Use the Tilde
The Tilde (pronounced TIHL-dee) is the key below the escape key in the top left-hand corner of your keyboard—you have to hold down the shift key to get a tilde.
Use the “~” before a word to search for synonyms for the word. For instance, I searched for ~cheese sculpture and found a “Cheddar Tallow Sculpture” of a dragon.
I’ve always wanted a dragon made out of animal fat.
5. Try the Translator
Tired of searching for cheese sculptures? How about Scultura Del Formaggio? If you’ve ever found a site that had some information you needed, but it was in another language, your best bet might be the Google Language Tools.
Google allows you to enter a Web site address or a chunk of text, and translate it from—or to—English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish.
6. Froogle instead of Google
Comparison price shopping can be a frustrating experience, and a lot of work. Want to get prices from all over the Web at once? Try—Google’s tool for finding information about products for sale online.
And I found a children’s book called “The Great Cheese Squeeze” for only $11.99. No cheese sculpture “How-To” manuals, however.
7. Get the definition
Google has a built-in definition function. Simply type define and the word you want defined—oh, how about, cheese—and Google will attempt to provide a definition for it.
Apparently, cheese is “a solid food prepared from the pressed curd of milk.”
I think I’ll ask it to define “Easy Cheese in a Can” next.
Related links:
•Sarah Bauman Professional Cheese Sculptor
•Andrew Cheese’s Sculpture Gallery
•Easy Cheese Sculpting Parties
•Cheddar Tallow Sculpture

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