How to Google Like a (Internet) Gangsta

How to Google like a pro
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Google has become an important tool for most people. Unfortunately, this tool’s power levels tend to take a sharp blow in the average user’s hands (fingertips?).

One could (and shall!) make a comparison to the powerful Koenigsegg Agera RS, a pretty extraordinarily powerful automobile. The Agera RS is perfectly capable of driving at a 90s Honda Civic’s pace, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got the same top speed.

Effectively and efficiently using Google’s tools to find the object of your search is a time honored tradition. I’ve been at it nearly my whole life, and I’m nowhere near finished. Once you find yourself finding things faster than before by quick keystrokes you barely have to think about, you’ll start to realize why I call this an art form, or compare the practice to a martial art.

Very few are aware of, let alone proficient with “Google-fu”. Legend has it, back in the early years, there was a shadowy, infamous group of 33 people, each having rightly earned the title “master”. The masters wasn’t a very catchy name, though, and neither was “the masters of effectively searching the world wide web”, so they settled on “Google Gangstas”, casually referring to each other as “Googla”.

In other words, in spite of using it daily, you’re probably barely scratching the surface of what this powerful search engine can do for you. And while you feebly type away, more noodle than Google, their ads get more and more targeted. Your profile grows and grows, and so do their profits. They may own the whole world someday, so why shouldn’t you at least save time searching until then?

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Read on to find out how to Google like a pro and harness the search engine’s powerful resources for your benefit, and we’ll get you your Googla pass in no time.

Googlified Boolean Operators

Google’s algorithm has always been shrouded in mystery. It is, of course, proprietary IP that generates revenue, or as I call it, “unlikely to be revealed“. However, boolean operators are mostly supported by Google and as far as I know, all other search engines (and all other databases).

There are only a few things to remember here, specifically for Google purposes: Quotation marks, Asterisks, Minus, and OR.

Putting your search in quotes will only return results containing exact words in quotation marks, in the same order. If you search Ice Cream Sandwich Club,your results may include club sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream clubs, sandwich clubs, etc. A search for "Ice Cream Sandwich Club"will only show you results for Ice Cream Sandwich Clubs.

 

Using an asterisk, the * character, is a bit of a wildcard. Literally. For example, searching "Google * mylife" returns results that contain a phrase which starts with “Google” followed by one or more words, followed by “my life”. Phrases that fit the bill include “Google ruined my life”, or “Google profits off of invading the privacy of my life”.

Searching with - preceding a word, with no space in between, will exclude pages which contain the word following the symbol. For example, searching Broncos -Denver may show you some equine results, or perhaps some automotive results. If you’re looking for the equine variety, I suggest searching Broncos -Ford -Denver.

Using OR (for which you may substitute |)  allows you to see results about either or all of the adjacent words. For example, searching Google evil OR surveillance will return pages that include “Google evil”, “Google surveillance”, and/or “Google evil surveillance”.

Search archives for content going back decades ago

You probably did not know you can search for content that was written long before the Internet age, but it’s very possible to search for news pieces and other content written before the Internet came around.

Most of the content in this category consists of scanned images of the original print version, that have been turned into editable and searchable content using optical character recognition and assorted Internet users’ free labor. (Bet you wondered what all those CAPTCHAs used to be about, didn’t ya?).

Since content is likely to be hosted on other sites, Google will return the search results and  indicate the site containing the content. If you are looking for content from books, consider using Google Books and Google News, as well as Genealogy Bank for articles, stories, and features published decades ago.

For even more information, consider using your new skills to research advanced Google methods. Or cheat by going to googleguide.com, which I can’t recommend enough.

Will Young
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