Google Search Engine Web Site
My friend Joshua Nestor now has a review on Google Search web site. I don't know what keeps him dedicated to that monster-in-the-making which soon will resemble Microsoft - if not already - but this is how he is, and he keeps producing some nice reviews, and I keep publishing them :)
Google is the most used search engine on the World Wide Web. It is owned by Google, Inc., and has been in existence since 1997. It is Stanford University's official search engine. Some estimates are that more than one hundred million people submit queries to Google each day. It is one of the top ten visited web sites each day!
How is Google different from other search engines? Simply summarized, the algorithm uses a system called "PageRank," patented by Google. When you submit a search to Google, PageRank calculates a weighted sum in ranking the web pages that potentially match the terms, correlating with their importance. Google has described PageRank as follows: "PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves ‘important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages ‘important.'" Google also employs other unknown criteria for ranking web pages on its results lists, in addition to PageRank. Such criteria are kept secret.
Results returned by Google include web pages, and a vast variety of other files, including Word documents, PDF files, videos (i.e. YouTube), Shockwave Flash files (flash SWF), plain text files, Excel spreadsheets, etc. Google converts these files to (X)HTML which enables the viewer to read the file, even if they do not have the software application installed on their computer.
Compared to Yahoo! and Msn.com and Ask.com, the results returned by Google are considered to be better in that Google is a superior search engine in determining if a link is a natural citation or not. Google filters out pages with duplicate content, and it looks for natural link growth over time. Msn.com may give you results with a heavy bias towards commercial web sites and high traffic recent links. Yahoo! also tends to produce results that are commercial in nature, and has a lot of internal links and a paid inclusion program, which does not always lend the best quality web pages for your queries.
Google is intuitively easy to use, which is probably part of the reason why it is the most popular search engine. For example, if you misspell a word in your search terms, Google will provide results for the correctly spelled term (and ask you if you misspelled it). In addition Google can be used as a calculator, currency converter, and a dictionary. In short, if you have a question, Google can get you an answer!
There are a number of ways that you can harness this power to help you run Internet searches. The most commonly used is launched from www.google.com, at which a visitor can enter terms on a particular subject in the space provided. You can either click on "Google search," or "I'm feeling lucky." With the first option, you may get thousands of results for the query. However, with the second option, you will get only the first result page.
But don't stop there. Many people may not notice the small print to the right of the long rectangular box with the cursor just waiting for you to put in your terms. Click on "Advanced Search" to narrow your results significantly from number of web pages returned to specifying exact terms, wording or phrases, rejecting unwanted words, specifying desired languages, file type, and even stating in which site or domain you wish Google to look for results.
Also to the right of the search box is the "Search Preference" icon. Click on this to let Google know in which languages the pages returned should be. You can also specify how many results per page (default is 10, but you can request up to 100 per page).
The "Language Tools" icon is fascinating! Type in a phrase in your own language to find web pages in other languages - specify the translation desired (i.e. English to Spanish). You can also copy and paste a foreign URL and it will be translated for you, provided you request the specific language translation. A list of all Google sites in local countries' domains is also provided. Users can run images searches from images.google.com. Just enter the topic on which you wish to search, and you will get results based on your request. There are Advanced Image Search and Preferences options for this search tool, as well. These options are similar to those discussed above, with the notable exception that with the Advanced Image Search, you can specify size and coloration of images.
Beyond the ordinary uses of the Google tools, users can create a Custom Search Engine, provided you have a Google Account. With this option, you can look through one specific web site, multiple sites, or even specific web pages. You will be able to host the search box and post results on your own web site, as well. This option can benefit your business, non-profit organization, or even your blog! You can also use the "SafeSearch" filtering technology, through the customizing feature.
Another helpful feature for busy people is www.google.com/searchhistory that can be accessed with a Google Account. Log on and review the pages that you visited recently, including Google searches, web pages, images, and videos. You can remove items from your web history, if you wish. It should be noted that Google has been criticized for placing cookies on user's computers to store preferences, and past searches. This enables the company to track search terms; data is retained for up to one year.
There are so many options through the search engines provided by Google for users to find both general and very specific information and images. Explore the various options and see what works best for you or your organization. Definitely consider signing up for a Google Account to maximize the options available. Run a few sample searches and see what works best, or if you need additional assistance. Google is definitely there to help, and has a great deal of resources to see that you find the information you are seeking!