What Google Is

The way most people use an Internet search engine is to drop in a couple of keywords and see what turns up. While in certain domains that can yield some decent results, it's becoming less and less effective as the Internet gets larger and larger.

Google provides some special syntaxes to help guide its engine in understanding what you're looking for. This section of the tutorial takes a detailed look at Google's syntax and how best to use it. Briefly:

    Within the page
  • Google supports syntaxes that allow you to restrict your search to certain components of a page, such as the title or the URL.
  • Kinds of pages
  • Google allows you to restrict your search to certain kinds of pages, such as sites from the educational (EDU) domain or pages that were indexed within a particular period of time.
  • Kinds of content
  • With Google, you can find a variety of file types; for example, Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF files. You can even find specialty web pages the likes of XML, SHTML, or RSS.
  • Special collections
  • Google has several different search properties, but some of them aren't as removed from the web index as you might think. You may be aware of Google's index of news stories and images, but did you know about Google's university searches? Or how about the special searches that allow you to restrict your searches by topic, to BSD, Linux, Apple, Microsoft, or the U.S. government?
  • These special syntaxes are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, it's in the combination that the true magic of Google lies. Search for certain kinds of pages in special collections or different page elements on different types of pages.

    If you get one thing out of this tutorial, get this: the possibilities are (almost) endless. This tutorial can teach you techniques, but if you just learn them by rote and then never apply them, they won't do you any good. Experiment. Play. Keep your search requirements in mind and try to bend the resources provided in this tutorial to your needs - build a toolbox of search techniques that works specifically for you.