June 8, 2004
"Google: The Missing Manual": Sought-After Secrets to Becoming a Search Guru
Sebastopol, CA--Most of the time, when you run a Google search, it simply
works. You type in The Simpsons, press Enter, and you've got all the
character bios, episode guides, and Bart hood ornaments you could ever
want. That's the beauty of Google.
But what about when you want to find something trickier? Say you're a
journalist writing a story on deadline for tomorrow, and you need a quote
from an expert in negotiations. You have two potential sources but neither
of them is returning your calls. A friend, however, recently raved about a
negotiations trainer his company brought in from a place called something
like Watershed Consultants. So you run a search for Watershed Consultants
... and Google gives you 120,000 results--all about saving ecosystems and
revitalizing rivers. Your friend is on vacation, and your story can't wait.
What do you do?
Naturally, you pick up a copy of Google: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly,
US $19.95) by Sarah Milstein and Rael Dornfest, and almost instantly, you
find what you're looking for. From search tricks and efficiency tools to
little-known corners of Google, the book includes everything you need to
find high-quality information in a hurry.
Unlike O'Reilly's Google Hacks, which was written for developers (and
included a lot of programming tricks), Google: The Missing Manual has
explanations, tips, and secrets for everyone from computer newbies to
seasoned searchers. It's virtually code-free, but it's not dumbed down.
The readable, humorous writing covers Google in all its sophistication,
describing not only how to use the myriad features on the site (many of
them hidden) but also when they're useful, too. Other books on Google are
woefully thin in this department, leaving readers with well-stocked tool
belts but no idea when to use the hammer and when to use the screwdriver.
Google: The Missing Manual gives readers the examples they need to get
the most out of Google. Whether explaining how to craft a successful
search, when to use Google Answers, or how to customize the Google
toolbar, the book provides juicy discussions in straightforward language,
appealing both to readers learning their way around the Web and to those
who already use Google eighty times an hour. This Missing Manual also
includes two chapters for webmasters, revealing how to show up in search
results and how to make money with Google.
Here's an example of what readers can learn from Google: The Missing
Manual. Let's return to the Watershed Consultants problem. As you may
know, a Google search for "Watershed Consultants" gives you every page
that mentions both those terms. If you want to find only pages that
discuss the phrase, put quotes around it, like this: "Watershed
Consultants." This hones your results from 150,000 to about 670--not an
insane number to sift through. But if "Watershed Consultants" is not the
exact name of the firm, you're out of luck. You could try the same trick
with "Watershed Consulting," but again, you'd need an exact name match.
Instead of quotes, you could add terms to your query to narrow it down.
Since you're looking for an expert in negotiation, and your friend works
in Washington D.C., rebuild your search like this: "Watershed Consultants
negotiation DC." Since that still leaves you with more than 8,000 results,
it's time to tell Google to ignore the pages with words you don't want.
Use the minus sign before extraneous terms (you can have up to ten words
in a Google query), like this: "Watershed Consultants negotiation DC
-water -river -ecological -aquatic -environmental -conservation." Now
you're netting a very manageable 86 results--and the first one is
Watershed Associates, a Washington firm that consults on negotiating
skills. A watershed moment, you might say.
It doesn't matter if you're new to the Web or an Internet aficionado;
Google: The Missing Manual will help you get more out of the world's
favorite search engine.
Google: The Missing Manual
Sarah Milstein, Rael Dornfest
ISBN 0-596-00613-6, 299 pages, $19.95 US, $28.95 CA
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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