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SEARCHING ON THE WEB can be frustrating. There are so many web sites. Google does a pretty good job of getting you close to what you're looking for, but there are a few things you can do to narrow your search even more so you have fewer search results and more of the ones you're really looking for.

The first thing I recommend is the Google Toolbar. This little bar is loaded with useful features. And once you have it, you can turn it on or off very easily. It becomes a toolbar added to your browser, so you can click on view, then toolbars, and you'll see Google on there. Click it and the bar is gone. Click it again and it's back.

One of the great features on the toolbar is when you type in your keywords, you can click on search to get a normal search, or you can choose Froogle or Google News, which you'll find out more about in a minute, or — and here is something really handy — current site. Google will search only within the web site you're on. You don't have to go clicking around fruitlessly on a poorly-organized web site. You can type in what you're looking for and find it right away.

Another great feature of the toolbar is the highlight button. When you type in keywords, go to a page, and click the highlight button, every place one of your keywords shows up on that page is highlighted instantly. This is especially handy for a very long web page. It helps you find what you're looking for even quicker than clicking edit and then find on this page.


typing your keywords

Use quote marks around phrases. If you're looking for google search tips, for example, and just type in those words, Google will find pages that have those three words in any order on the page. You're likely to get a lot of results that have nothing to do with what you're really looking for. But if you type in "google search tips" with the quote marks, Google will give you only pages that have those three words in that order on the page. That really narrows things down and improves your chances of finding what you want.

Use a minus operator. If you put a minus sign (a simple dash like this - ) before a word, Google will subtract any page with that word on it from your search results. So for example, if you're looking for Google search tips and you get a lot of pages about making good tips as a waiter, you can type in google search tips -waiter. It will take the same results you had and subtract all the pages with the word "waiter" on them.

You can use these in combination to increase your accuracy even better. Put words in quotes and use the minus operator like this:

"google search tips" -waiter


features without the google toolbar

When you get to a web site and you're pretty sure what you're looking for is somewhere on that site, go to Google and put in your keywords, followed by or whatever the web address is. This causes Google to search only that web site. It will give you Google results just like normal except they'll all be only from that one site. Don't put any space between the colon and the name of the domain.

Google allows you to narrow your choices down with Google News and Froogle. When you type in keywords in Google News, Google automatically eliminates all results except news sources. And with Froogle, they automatically eliminate all results except retail stores.

An entirely different way to search is to use the Google Directory. This is a layout of topics, and you click your way to narrow your search. The sites are chosen by human beings.



On the main page of right next to the text box, you'll see Preferences. One option is rather than getting ten search results at a time, you can set it to 20 or 30 or even 100 per page. It saves you a little clicking later. Once you set those preferences, if your browser allows cookies, they will stay set. Every time you use Google, you'll get a hundred at a time or whatever you chose. This feature is also available on the Google Toolbar in "options."

Another cool option in Preferences is to open your search results in a new browser window. This is handy because often you go to a site and then click around on that site. Now when you're done and you want to get back to your search results you have to click the back button a bunch of times and some pages won't let you go back easily. With this feature, you just close out that window and you're back to the Google results page. Nice. This feature is also an option on the Google Toolbar.

On the main page of right next to the text box, you'll see Advanced Search. One of the options on there is Occurrences. It's a drop-down menu with several options. You can search the entire contents of pages to find your keywords. That's the default. But if you want to really narrow down your results and increase your chances of finding what you're looking for, choose in the title of the page.

Another nice feature in Advanced Search is to limit results to pages that have been updated in the last three months (or six months). This helps you filter out old news and web sites that have outdated links, etc.

On the main page of right above the text box, you'll see a link called News. Click on that and in the left column you'll see News Alerts. They will email you search results, either once a day, or as the pages appear online. You type in your search terms, and give your email address, and Google takes care of the rest.

Google can also give you dictionary definitions and audio pronunciation. Type in your word and do a normal search. Over on the right where it says how many pages, it has in brackets right next to the word: [definition]. Click on that.

Google has tools to help you find exactly what you're looking for. Use these tools to shorten your search time and increase your chances of finding exactly what you want.

Author: Adam Khan
author of the books, Self-Help Stuff That Works and Antivirus For Your Mind
and creator of the blog:
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