Do you Google?

March 1, 2004
Google (www.google.com) is the best search engine on the Web. Nevertheless, it has one problem — most people do not know how to use it to its best advantages.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD

Google (www.google.com) is the best search engine on the Web. Nevertheless, it has one problem — most people do not know how to use it to its best advantages. Are you someone who merely types in a key word or two and hopes for the best? This is the quickest way to search, but with more than 3 billion pages in Google's index, you will end up with unmanageable results.

Google has the largest database — 1.5 billion pages — and is adept at returning relevant results. Google uses mathematical formulas to rank a Web page based on the number of "important" pages that link to it. Google supports "OR" (in all caps), but does not support full Boolean "AND NOT" (all caps). However, it does allow the implied Boolean minus sign "-."

When multiple keywords are entered, all keywords are treated as "AND" queries. Also, quotation marks for searching for phrases are not required because Google returns pages with key words in close proximity.

Did you know Google has a number of specialized sections? Here is a list of some of them:

Froogle: froogle.google.com This is a price-comparison search area.
Google Advanced: google.com/advanced_ search In this area, you may customize 12 aspects of your search criteria.
Google Answers: answers.google.com Ask self-appointed experts for answers to difficult-to-solve problems. Fees are involved in some of these areas.
Google Directory: directory.google.com Browse the Web from here, based on specific topic categories and subcategories.
Google Glossary: labs.google.com/glossary Find word definitions from dictionaries and references in medical, legal, and scientific Web sites.
Google Groups: groups.google.com Browse archived posts of usenet news groups or post new messages.
Google Images: images.google.com Search through more than 400 million publicly accessible images by file name, description, or keyword.
Google Language: www.google.com/language tools Change your user interface to any of 86 languages or translate French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Portugues Web pages.
Google News: news.google.com View news stories pulled from news and information sites around the world. This site is updated every five minutes.
Google Calculator: www.google.com/help/features.html#calculator Use this area to do math or a variety of conversions.
Google University Search: www.google.com/options/universities.html Search content from university Web sites, including campus news, class schedules, and alumni information.

Google has a number of syntax tricks to help narrow down searches. Go to www.google.com/help/opera tors.html to get a complete list of these elements. A few unique ones are:

intitle: This will restrict its search to only Web page titles.
intext: This will restrict its search to body text only.
link: This will let you see which pages are linked to a specific Web page.
rphonebook: If you type in a name, city (optional), and state, it will give you residential telephone listings.
bphonebook: If you type in a name, city (optional), and state, it will give you business telephone listings.
allinurl: If you know part of a URL, you can search for words within the URL itself.

One of Google's handiest features is the Google Toolbar. This will add a search field and links to Google's other services on to Internet Explorer so you may initiate a search without having to load Google's home page.

Want to do some financial research? Type in a company's ticker symbol and click the "show stock quotes" link at the top of the search result screen. Need to do a reverse lookup? Type in an area code and phone number and there is a good chance you will get the person and/or company name for that number.

Trying to get directions to a place or city? Looking for a map? Instead of visiting one of the many map Web sites, type an address in the search field and you'll get links to Yahoo Maps and MapQuest.

Google goes well beyond what most search engines can do for you. The better you master your ability to use sites like Google, the more proficient and efficient you will become. Get out there and start Googling!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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