Friday, November 07, 2008

Rock solid techniques for using Google from Rock IT at the Newbury Business Group

As ubiquitous as Google has become, who among us has not been left frustrated at the search engine’s inability to read our minds and only interprets what we type in?

Well if you have been at Newbury Business Group earlier today there is a good chance you will no longer be drumming your fingers while humming U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ – all thanks to the insight offered by Paul Cowie from Rock IT.

In a 10 Minute Masterclass that was stylishly delivered in considerably less, for the thoroughly positive reason of having lots of guests attending West Berkshire’s foremost networking organisation’s weekly meeting at Donnington Valley Golf Club.

“It’s all about how you ask!” he told us and gave the example that: “How many calories does an apple have” and “An apple has * calories” will produce very different results, with the latter being more precise.

We discovered that singular is different from plural – apple is not the same as apples! Also that Google plain ignores lots of little words – I, where, how, of, is, in. We should enclose them in quotes if we want them included.

The order of words is important – example Brown Bear and Bear Brown return different results and punctuation is generally ignored except apostrophes, hyphen and quote marks.
One other exception is two dots, which is ideal for finding something in a range. Like this "office chair" £50..£75. Or for dates: Newbury 1850..1899

Most people know that using “quotes” narrow searches, but searching within the results can refine these even further.

Paul told us: “If you put three words in your search, all three must be on the page for it to be returned. However, you can use OR to find pages with any of the words and use parentheses to group terms. For instance if you were trying to remember the name of a certain movie with monkeys, you could search for: chimps (“Ben Affleck” OR “Mark Wahlberg”). You will find yourself landing on the 'Planet of the Apes'

“Google does not understand ‘NOT’ however you can use – to exclude a term from you search example: “Ben Affleck” –”Jennifer Lopez”, only returns pages with Ben not Jen.

“Just as a minus sign says no a + sign says yes. For example: +the omen will find references to the film, although you could use quotes to the same end!”

bY tHE wAY – Google is not case sensitive!

A wild card allows an * to replace one word. For example: “Three * * mice” leads to “three blind fat mice” or “three very tough mice”. Wild cards are useful to get around the 10 word limit on searching because they don’t count and miss out stop words (a the if) because they do!

He concluded urging us to visit the Google help page which has all this and more.

Once again a stalwart member of the Newbury Business Group has proven not only their expertise, but been abundantly generous with it and added enormous value to the group.

I did have a Google tip! Use telephone STD codes like 01635 for Newbury and 0118 for Reading when you are looking for geographic specific businesses!

No comments: