Google Power Search

Author: Stephan Spencer
Publisher: Koshkonong
Pages: 138
ISBN: 978-0999284704
Print: 0999284703
Kindle: B076HF5R4P
Audience: Everyone!
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Ian Stirk

This book aims to improve your Google searches, how does it fare?

Google is the leading search tool, while it is deceptively easy to get search results, Google search contains a wealth of functionality and associated services to produce highly targeted results. This book aims to show you how to tap into this additional functionality.

The book has a wider scope that many other Google search books, containing details on how to improve your Google searches together with various peripheral services.

The Kindle version of the book is relatively cheap ($1.34, £0.99), and future updates will be delivered free. This book should be useful for anyone that searches for information regularly – which is practically everyone.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

 

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Chapter 1: Refining Your Searches

The book opens with a discussion of some of the more popular search considerations, and helpful example searches are provided. Features examined include: 

  • Case insensitivity

  • Superfluous words

  • Exact words and phrases

  • Wildcards

  • AROUND 

The features discussed are brief, but adequate. This chapter contains features that you’d expect in a traditional Google search book, features that most IT people should already be familiar with.

The chapter is well-written, easy to read, interesting, with helpful examples provided. These traits apply to the whole of the book.

The introductory summary is concise, and this can lead to misunderstanding (e.g. ‘Boolean Logic: Use the OR operator and the minus symbol – to remove certain words from your search’).  

Chapter 2: Google Search Operators

Various filters can be used to target the search results returned, e.g. it is possible to limit your searches to a given site (e.g. Microsoft.com) and/or file type (e.g. PDF). Filters discussed include: 

  • filetype (search for a given type of file)

  • site (a given site)

  • inurl (search the URLs only)

  • allintext (search for text in indexed pages)

  • related (search for related sites/links)

  • deprecated operators (no longer used or dated) 

This chapter provides a useful deeper dive into targeted Google searches using various search operators, these should significantly improve your searches.

 

 

Chapter 3: Initial Market Research Using Google

This chapter provides an example of how to approach the use of Google to search for quite specific information. The search topic concerns frozen vegetable consumption in the USA, including consumer demographics –the subject matter isn’t really important, but the approach undertaken is. It shows how to go from plentiful and generic search results to a targeted relevant search, involving combined phrases, document types, date ranges, sort order etc. You can adapt the approach used to your own specific search needs.

The section next discusses the key features of the simple Google homepage, including: 

  • mail

  • images

  • notifications

  • voice search 

The chapter next discusses the content of a typical results page, including: Settings (e.g. change number of results shown per page), ‘Content type and search tools’ (e.g. news, sort by document age), and Spelling corrections. Additionally, the various links on the results page are discussed, including: images, maps, and news – details on how to take advantage of each of these is discussed (e.g. using maps on your mobile to find nearby restaurants). The growing importance of Voice in searching, and its impact in various services, is noted.

The section next discusses various miscellaneous features, including: translating a page, local information, scientific calculators, and airline route information.

It’s noted that some of the tactics used in searching for specific information can easily be adapted to other websites (e.g. YouTube, eBay).

This chapter provides a useful review of the seemingly simple Google homepage, its content and reach.

Chapter 4: Specialized Search Tools

Whilst Google’s main search page is undoubtedly the first port of call for most users, other Google tools exist for searching niche information. This chapter discusses these tools, together with helpful examples. These tools include: 

  • Google Alerts (notifies you with the latest search results)

  • Google Scholar (search academic papers etc)

  • Google Books (books Google has digitized)

  • Google Shopping (useful for price comparison)

  • Google Trends (shows popular search terms over time)

  • Public Data Explorer (query and display information from public datasets) 

This section describes some of the lesser known features that could be very valuable for your targeted searching.

The chapter ends with an amusing list of Easter Eggs (e.g. search for: askew, recursion, Google in 1998)

Chapter 5: Ancillary Google Services

This chapter focuses on the Google’s main non-search related tools, these are typically connected with your Google account. These tools include: 

  • YouTube

  • Google+ (a social network)

  • Google Photos (photo management)

  • Gmail (free email service)

  • Blogger (free blogging service)

  • Google My Activity (what you’ve done on various Google services)

  • Google Drive (Cloud storage platform)

  • G Suite (Office productivity software) 

Each of the tools is briefly discussed, and associated URLs provided.

This chapter provides a useful overview of related Google services, services that you might be unaware of, or have forgotten about.

Chapter 6: Cutting-Edge Google Research

This chapter discusses some of the latest usability improvements, including: 

  • search algorithms (e.g. Hummingbird – aimed at improved mobile searches)

  • knowledge graph (crowd-sourced knowledge base using graph structure)

  • knowledge vault (academic knowledge base of verified content)

  • carousel (list-style results atop of the search results) 

This section highlights some of the useful features that may eventually become mainstream, it also illustrates how Google is always expanding and extending its functionality.

I’m not sure all the features discussed qualify as cutting-edge, several seem to be rather standard now (e.g. featured snippets for step-by-step instructions). However, it does show how rapidly Google changes - and the advantages of the book’s free updates via Kindle.

Chapter 7: Google on Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are increasingly the source of search queries, so it makes sense for Google to cater this burgeoning market (e.g. by concentrating on location-based results).

The mobile-centric features discussed include: 

  • voice input (an increasingly common input method)

  • Google Goggles (search based on a picture taken with your phone’s camera)

  • Android Auto (simpler interface for use while driving)

  • Google Now (customizable homepage for the Google mobile app – lots of local info) 

This section provides a useful discussion of the ways in which Google search is changing to reflect the growing impact of mobile devices – perhaps in the near future keyboard input will become redundant.

Chapter 8: How the Experts Use Google

This chapter contains details of interviews with 5 search experts (Philipp Lennsen, Tasha Bergson-Michelson, Nancy Blachman, Tara Calishain, and Alex Chitu), and examines how they go about using Google searching.

Amongst the questions discussed are: 

  • For what sorts of research tasks is Google not suited, but other engines are?

  • What are your favorite Google query operators, and why?

  • What are your favorite Google-owned websites, and why?

  • What are your favorite third-party applications that are based on Google?

  • How does the increasing use of mobiles affect search?

  • What one piece of advice about Google as a research tool would you give? 

This is followed with some sample search operators for finding information about B&Bs in the USA – this is useful for confirming your level of understanding of the content of the earlier chapters of the book.

The chapter ends with a look at assessing the credibility of information on the web - an increasingly relevant topic with the growing concern around fake news. Elements discussed include: Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Currency, and Coverage (originally from http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/evaluating-resources).

This chapter provides a useful insight into how Google search experts approach searching. Additionally, it provides a mini-review of some of the book’s salient points.

Chapter 9: The Technical Side of Web Research

This chapter takes a deeper behind the scenes technical look at Google querying.

While the Google homepage interface is adequate for many purposes, constructing your own query via the URL query string parameters can be useful (e.g. if you want to build your query programmatically). This section briefly describes the various components of the query strings.

As identified earlier, location is an increasingly important component of mobile searches (especially ‘near me’ searches), the section discusses how to simulate a location with Google Chrome. Details are also given on how to simulate a mobile device with Google Chrome. These features could be useful for testing your own local searches.

Various other useful features are discussed, including: 

  • finding people to link to you (to improve your Search Engine Ranking)

  • finding documents that aren’t usually public

  • monitoring incoming links and anchor text strength 

The section ends with a discussion on what people are searching for, and some reason why they are searching - this can be useful in planning how to attract visitors to your own website.

This is an interesting chapter covering a variety of useful search related information. There are some helpful tips from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) viewpoint.

The book ends with a helpful Glossary.

Conclusion

This book aims to improve your Google searches, and succeeds - actually it goes further than other similar Google search books by also examining related Google services. The book is easy to read, interesting, with a good flow between sections, has helpful inter chapter and website links, and contains useful example searches.

I suspect most of us don’t use Google search functionality efficiently, this book will surely help correct this. Additionally, if you’re already familiar with Google search, this book will provide a great refresher.

The low cost of the Kindle book ($1.34, £0.99) should encourage large sales, and the free updates are sure to be welcomed in this ever changing area (I wish other authors would take this approach).

The author is a SEO expert and a specialist in marketing, this comes out in the self-praising biography. Luckily, this has little impact on the book (something I had feared initially). I guess the author uses the other projects mentioned in his biography to help fund this low-cost book – certainly a cost worth paying for the reader.

One oddity, I purchased the Kindle version of this book on 20th May, however the Introduction says ‘The content in this book was last updated on June 10, 2018’… hmmmm?!

Overall, an enjoyable, interesting, and informative read, certain to help improve your Google searches.

 

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 09 June 2018 )