How many times have you spent hours searching for information for a research paper or for that presentation your group is presenting? The World Wide Web contains some good sources of information, but your quest to locate that pertinent data is usually rife with wasted time visiting useless pages. There is an easier way to find information, and it is a site gaining in popularity, called Google.
The Google search engine (http://www.google.com) is fast becoming the search tool of choice for web enthusiasts. Combining the useful tools of major search engines, it also adds some new options to those searching the vast holdings of the Internet. While Google is its own search engine, it has been adopted by some major companies. In fact, Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com) uses Google as its “backup” search engine when it can’t find results in its own database.
So what makes Google such an attractive alternative to the search engine titans? One example of the innovations occurring at Google is the ability to search through the popular Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) file type. Before, search engines would skip over these files, but Google’s searching technology actually looks at the text inside the files and finds the keywords you’ve entered. It’s quite a useful technology, as PDF files are sometimes laden with research information.
Google has also started to cache the pages that are part of its index. The engine roams the World Wide Web, searching for new pages to add to its ever-growing database. When it comes across a new page, Google takes a snapshot of it. If you conduct a search and are disappointed when you see that the page you want to go to no longer exists, click on the “Cached” link on your Google results page, and you’ll see the saved page, a real savior if you’re trying to find potentially outdated information.
Google can also surf along with you wherever you are on the Internet, thanks to the Google Toolbar. This addition to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser places a small toolbar on your browser window, complete with a text box to enter search terms into. Click on the “Search” button, and you’ll automatically be sent to a results page. Once you’ve found a page of interest, you can then use the handy buttons on the toolbar to scan the pages for your terms, eliminating the need to read the whole webpage to find just the information you want.
Google also has specialized searches, an aspect of the engine that is not widely known. For instance, to access only government produced web pages, head over to http://www.google.com/unclesam. Or, if you’re into Linux, try the customized Google search at http://www.google.com/linux.
In addition to the searching capabilities, Google also has an easy to use directory (http://directory.google.com), which looks similar to search engines like Yahoo!. Overall, with all of the additional tools and exceptionally ranked results pages, Google serves as an excellent tool to conduct your searches of the Internet.
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