As I have been part of a Google Apps for Education school district as well as on a college campus, I wanted to explore the features of www.google.com. The interface of Google has always been simplistic in nature. On the Google search engine page, there simply is the Google logo along with a search bar with two additional button options “Google Search” as well as “I’m Feeling Lucky,” which when you scroll over it gives you a random search field...I’m feeling… The interface also includes the ability to sign in to a Google Account, the tiles menu which redirects you to Google Apps, an images buttons to search for images which I will get into later, as well as quick access to gmail.
When clicked, the box gives you the results. In the search bar, as you begin to type in your search, your search results will automatically begin being populated. For example, I began to type in “Abraham Lincoln” into the search bar and watched as the results were populated.
After typing the name into the search engine, Google quickly gave me results. In fact, it gave me about 54,300,000 results which was to be expected as there have been more books written about Abraham Lincoln than any other man in American History. The results were compiled for me in 0.52 seconds. Once you have made your initial search, you are given many more options by google to narrow your search results.
From the results page, you can change the results to look for images through Google. By doing so, image results for Abraham Lincoln are displayed. Now by clicking the tools options after searching for images, you get even more options shown below.
The options allow for users to find pictures they want to look at that are the right size, a certain color, a certain file type (jpeg, bmp, png, ect.), when it was published, and finally usage rights which I consider most important if you're copyright minded and are looking for images that may be published, used, or modified in some way. This tool will give you the appropriate access rights. Google also allows some operating systems to do a reverse image search. This search allows users to drop images into the search bar, and Google will search for matches on information about that image.
Google also gives you the option to search for new relative to your search results as well. By clicking the tools options, you can narrow down the search results just as you can with images. Typically, search results are relative to what is currently in the popular news; however, results can be changed as seen below.
By clicking tools, users can change from news articles to blogs, they can sort by publish date if they are looking for an article posted at a certain time, or by relevance to their current search.
Search tools for other categories
Books and videos have the same design, giving users the initial search results for “Abraham Lincoln,” but then allowing users to narrow down the results based on categories and category tools. Of course Abraham Lincoln is a quite simple search. If I were to search, “The effect of Abraham Lincoln’s Address on morale during the Civil War,” my results are significantly different. My results, as expected, are much different. On an “All” search, I received about 4,220,000 results. Even while narrowing down my search to something so specific as “The effect of Abraham Lincoln’s Address on morale during the Civil War,” I still receive more results than I could possible dig through in a lifetime of research, and to that end, I am trusting that the results that Google decided to prioritize for me are the results that I wish to see.
Advanced Search Settings
This is where the Google search engine becomes very powerful. After performing your search, there is a button that says advanced. Under advanced, you can find advanced search settings.
After clicking advanced search options, you have a plethora of options to choose from to help narrow your search with hints on how to perform the more critical search. This is a very practical feature as it allows you to narrow your searches without having to know the Google Search operators to do so. See the image below. You can also navigate directly to advanced search by going to www.google.com/advanced_search.
By narrowing my search down to searching for Abraham Lincoln, with the exact words of “Morale” “Gettysburg,” I was able to narrow down my search to just 389,000 results. I could have also done a simple search using the following syntax: Abraham Lincoln "Morale" "Gettysburg". The results are much less than four millions, but still too many to process. I decided to narrow it down even further. I adjusted the results to see only information where these terms appear in the title under the “terms appearing” drop down menu. When searching for allintitle: Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg I narrowed the results down to just 9,000 which I felt was pretty good for such a popular search.
To add to Google’s advanced search feature, Google also offers Google scholar, which allows for users to simply search scholarly literature. From a single location you can search many sources from many different content areas. You can search for books, journals, abstracts, ect.
In the search above I included articles that included Abraham Lincoln and the words “Gettysburg” and “Morale” generating about 4000 scholarly published documents. You can also sign up for an email digest of new articles published meeting your search criteria.
Tips for searching in Google
Choose your words carefully when doing a search. If you don’t get the results you want look for ways to either narrow down the search, or use different words to search. Also, instead of using common language to do searches, try using search words that are specific to the field you're searching. For example, if you are search for answers to questions about a medicine, use the medical terminology instead of what most users would consider the common language. Also, don’t worry about capitalization and spelling. Google pays no attention to capitalization and will correct spelling mistakes for you. If you are looking for a definition, add the keyword “define” prior to your search. If you need help with math, simply put in what you are trying to solve into the search bar.
For keyword operators, Google also has developed a list to support users in their searches. The most common may be @ to search social media, $ to search for prices, # to search hashtags, - to exclude a word from a search, as we have learned “ “ allow users to search for exact matches, and * can be used as a wildcard for unknown words, or for truncation for similar words, although I have found the Google does a pretty good job of including all forms of a word. For example if you search genes, you typically see results for genetics. Finally, another useful operator is site: which will limit the results to within a certain site. Each of these operators can help manipulate and simplify your search results. To see the full list of operators, click here.