Google 101: A Quick Start for Beginners

what is Google?
Credit: Ezra Bailey

 

In the last decade, Google has attained the ranking of the #1 search engine on the Web and consistently stayed there. It is the most widely used search engine on the Web, and millions of people use it every day to find answers to questions, research information and conduct their daily lives. In this article, we'll take a high-level look at the world's most popular search engine. 

How does Google work?

Basically, Google is a crawler-based engine, meaning that it has software programs designed to "crawl" the information on the Net and add it to its sizeable database.

Google has a great reputation for relevant and thorough search results. 

Search Options

Searchers have more than one option on Google's home page; there is the capacity to search for images, find videos, look at news, and many more choices. 

In fact, there are so many extra search options on Google that it's difficult to find space to list them all. Here are a few special features:

  • Search for Books: If you're looking for a text from a specific book, type in the name of the book (in quotes), or if you're looking for books about a particular subject, type in "books about xxx". Google will return results that contain content either in the book itself and will offer links to Book Results at the top of the search page.
  • Google Calculator: Use Google's calculator by just typing in whatever calculation you'd like Google to figure out. For example: half a quart in tablespoons.
  • Google Definitions: Ask Google to define something by typing in define (insert term).

    Google's Home Page

    Google's home page is extremely clean and simple, loads quickly, and delivers arguably the best results of any search engine out there, mostly due to how it decides to rank pages due to relevance to the original query and massive listings (more than 8 billion at the time of this writing).

    How to use Google effectively

    • Be specific. Google is not an "intuitive" search engine (unfortunately, there aren't any!), and therefore cannot read your mind. Try to be as concise as possible; instead of "jeans", try "Levi 501 jeans".
    • Search for phrases. For example, if you're searching for a specific quote, type in "to be or not to be". Google will search for the entire phrase just how it appears in between the quotes. For more information on how use phrases in your searches, check out Looking for a Specific Phrase.
    • Be selective. Use "common words", such as and, if, not and numbers ONLY if you want them included in the search. Google excludes them otherwise. If you want them included, use a phrase search by putting quotations around your search query, or include the common word by putting a space and a plus sign right in front of it. For example, if you are looking for the season five DVD of "Sex and the City", type in "sex and the city dvd season +5".
    • Exclude extra results. If you want to narrow down your searches even further, focus your search by placing a "-" (negative sign) in front of words you want to avoid. For example, if you're searching for "coffee" and want to avoid Starbucks, you would type in "coffee -Starbucks" (without quotes). If you'd like to learn more about using the plus and minus symbol in your searches, read Basic Web Search Math.

      More search tips

      All you need to do is just enter a word or phrase and hit "enter". Google will only come up with results that contain all the words in the search word or phrase; so refining your search just means adding or subtracting words to the search terms you've already submitted.

      Google's search results can easily be narrowed down by using phrases instead of just one word; for example, when looking for "coffee" search for "Starbucks coffee" instead and you'll get much better results.

      Google doesn't care about capitalized words and will even suggest correct spellings of words or phrases. Google also excludes common words such as "where" and "how", and since Google will return results that include all of the words you enter in, there's no need to include the word "and", as in "coffee and starbucks."