Effectively Search on Google

Your simple Google searches can be highly effective, but they will probably work better if you follow these suggestions:

Be specific:

Targeted keywords work better than more general keywords (so the more you learn about a topic, the more likely you are to create successively more effective searches). For example, if you are looking for information about environmental impact statements in Alameda County, California, a search for environmental impact Alameda County CA gives you much better information than a search for environment northern CA.

Use both singular and plural forms of words:

To Google, singular and plural forms of words are different words. You may need to try both singular and plural forms in successive searches. For example, if you are interested in monks and medieval music, a search for monk polyphony yields different results than a search for monks polyphony (so you should run both searches for the most useful results). You can run both searches together by combining the single and plural forms, for example, monk monks polyphony.

Use distinctive and important keywords: If you can think of an unusual word that will most likely appear on most pages with information you are interested in, then you are most of the way to an effective, but simple, Google search. For example, if you are looking for material with information about building software that customizes Google, the search term Google api google search
web service probably works well – better than program Google.

One of the biggest problems with Google searches is sifting through the large number of results that are often returned. Many of these results are not what you are looking for. You can refine your search so that you only find material about programming languages. Scroll to the bottom of the first Google results page and you see the Google search box with the search words hello world already in it. You can add the terms programming language immediately after the original search terms and click the Search button.

Google Answers:

Google Answers is a service that allows users to name their own price to get research questions answered. Browsing questions and answers is free – and very informative – but you need a Google account to post a question.

Google Directory:

Google Directory uses the categorization scheme and sites selected by the Open Directory Project to find information that has been vetted by experts.

Google Groups:

Google Groups lets you search through millions of bulletin board posts made on every conceivable subject (Google Groups are the very same Usenet Groups that predate the Web, only with a new name). In its most recent version, Google has extended Google Groups, adding tools and group list management features that go beyond anything available through the old Usenet.

Google Images:

Google Images lets you search for pictures on the Web. This service has some surprising uses for researchers.

Google Language Tools:

Google Language Tools lets you choose a geographic area to search, translate text, and translate Web pages by providing a URL. You can also choose another language for the Google interface (such as the Search button) if English isn’t your native language or if you just want to read everything in, say, Portuguese.

Google News:

Google News Search provides links to recent news items. If you have a Google account, you can set up automated search results on a topic and have the results e-mailed to you.

Google Scholar:

Google Scholar lets you search for academic, previewed articles and citations. Google Scholar is currently in beta.

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