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Google – searching

What you will learn

  • Learn how to search the internet to find the specific information that you want
  • Restrict the searching to specific countries and/or languages
  • Learn about ‘keywords’ – search terms
  • Search using a PC, tablet, smartphone

How to search the internet?

There are literally billions of websites available across the internet, all available for you to search. You need a ‘browser’ (Chrome or Internet Explorer are common) and a ‘search engine’ to enable you to find exactly what you want.

Example from a PC (just click on the Google Chrome icon)  

It seems a bit daunting at first, but you soon get used to searching (or googling).

In simple terms, Google crawls around the internet, and creates indexes of all the keywords contained in documents, on websites. You have to use ‘keywords’ to retrieve the information you want – this is searching.

So part of the art of searching is choosing the correct keywords; sometime you start with one or two and you realise you need to change them to get the results you want. Google lets you perform advanced searches also, where you can choose what country, what language you wish to look at.

You can search using a computer, a tablet, a smartphone. You don’t have to use Google, there are others; for example, on an iPhone, safari is available.

What is Google?

Google can be used to find a variety of information such as websites, pictures (images), maps or even the answer to the crossword clue that has been driving you crazy all morning.

So if you type the work ‘holidays’ into the search box for instance, Google will show you all the websites with holiday information. You’ll soon learn that you need to be more specific with the words you use, as Google will find millions of websites if you just type in ‘holidays’.

Googles key benefits:

1.Simple search box for you to type your query

2.Answers are provided almost instantly

3.You can choose to search for websites, images, news, maps and much more

4.You can search just in UK or all over the world

5.Google has produced its own web browser – this is called Google Chrome. You might also choose to use Internet Explorer.

How to use Google

Step 1

Go the Google website and click in the search box.

Step 2

Type in words that are relevant to what you’re looking for – that is, keywords. In this case, you’re looking for a holiday in France so your keywords would naturally be ‘holiday’ and ‘France’.

Note that, if you type in all lower-case letters and not use capitals, this won’t change the number or kind of results you get. However, if you reverse the words in a search or just add an ‘s’ to the end of one of them, the number and type of results will change.
As you type, you will notice that Google offers you suggestions of words or phrases that it thinks you might want to type. If you wish to choose one of these suggestions, click on the suggestion with your mouse, or use the arrow keys to move up and down the list and press the enter key on your keyboard.
If you don’t wish to take advantage of the autocomplete suggestions, carry on typing.
Now you can click the icon of the magnifying glass to do a Google Search. However, as you type the search criteria, the list of results will dynamically change to reflect changes to what you are typing.
(You can also click on I’m Feeling Lucky next to the suggestion. This will take you automatically to the very first search result that would appear if you did a normal search. This might be helpful if you’re looking for something that will produce only a single result – for instance, Google itself. But as the internet has got more complicated, it’s almost impossible to ensure that the best result will always be the first, so using this button is not recommended.)
If ‘holiday’ was the first word you entered in the search box, you would get 709,000,000 results:
However, if ‘France’ was put in first and ‘holiday’ was changed to ‘holidays’, the results would drop to 295,000,000.

Step 3

There are still far too many results to go through, so your search terms need to be more precise.

At the top right hand side of the Google page is the settings icon. Click on this and choose Advanced Search.
In the window that now appears, you can not only say what you do want – gites or cottages and websites in English – but also what you don’t want: websites that offer camping.
Then click on Advanced Search.The result of this advanced search is shown in the search box below. Note the minus signs (–) in front of ‘camping’ and ‘tents’. This means that Google has excluded web pages containing those words from the search.

Step 4

This advanced search produces 1,920,000 results to consider – still a lot to go through. The best way to reduce these further is to be even more exact – in this case, to consider where in France you want to go rather than specifying the whole country. Say you want to go to Provence: type this into the search box after ‘France’,  being sure to keep all the other keywords and exclusions. Then click Search again.


Step 5

As you can see, this has now given a result of just under 6 million websites: still quite a lot but Google will often sort them in the order of their relevance to your query, so the ones at the top are more likely to match what you’ve asked for.

Remember that many companies spend a lot of time and money tweaking their websites so that they appear as close as possible to the top of search engine result pages, even if this means that they aren’t as relevant to your search as they should be. It can be a good idea to look at search results some distance (even 10 or more pages away) from the first ones, to find something that might be less commercial but more desirable from your point of view.
In addition, in this example, the top three results are on a coloured background. This is because advertisers have paid to have their websites placed at the top of relevant searches. They may match your request, but other sites that haven’t paid for a prominent position may match just as well or even better.
If you find that you don’t like the autocomplete suggestions as you type in a search phrase, these can be turned off by going to the Google Settings and choosing Settings from the menu.
On the settings page, click on OFF to change the instant predictions.
Remember that you can use Google to search for a huge variety of things – not just holidays, but for shopping, finding out about something, places of interest, directions as well as images, videos and much much more!