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Google is the world's most popular search engine. A search engine is a program or a coordinated set of programs that crawls the web to find documents that matches keywords and then returns the matches in a list. Basically, it's the thingy you use to search for stuff on the Internet. There are loads about such as MSN, Yahoo, Ask but Google has dominated the rest and has become the most popular.
Although the category is Google.com, I'm usually directed to Google.co.uk, which has an option to let me search pages within the UK only. This is quite handy as if I'm looking to buy something, I may not want to have it sent from the USA or France when it can be from the UK. That and certain things items are only available in the UK or are in a UK format.
EASE OF USE
What I and probably millions of other web users like most about Google compared to other search engines is that the main page is straight to the point with no adverts, clutter and other stuff to distract me from what I went there to do, which is to search. On visiting Google, the cursor is already in the text box so I'm able to start typing straight away. To find some something, I just type in what I'm looking for in the text box and then click Google Search, although I usually just hit Enter/Return on the keyboard, and get a list of results. I don't usually use the 'I'm feeling Lucky' button but it just takes you to the very first result.
On the results page, there are sponsored links at the very top and the top right, which are sites that pay for Google to advertise their site at the top of the page. Your results are down the middle of the page, showing you ten results (but can be changed in the Preferences) and each one features an extract of text from the site, followed by the address of the page it has returned as a result. Clicking on the links takes you to the site. At the bottom of the results, there's the word Google but with one 'o' for each page of results (e.g. Goooooooooogle for ten pages) and this part lets you navigate to the next page by clicking on 'o's on top of the page number, by clicking on the numbers or by clicking on 'Next' or the blue Right arrow. Obviously, there's there'll be a 'Previous' link too once you go to the next page and so on. Needless to say, Google is very easy to use.
If you get thousands or even millions of results for your search term, you can either search using a different phrase or you can use the 'Advanced Search'. You can filter down search results by stuff like "with all words", "with exact phrase", "without the words" as well as filtering by date, domain, language, etc. However, there are other ways to filter down results that you may not know of.
You can put your phrase in quotes (i.e. "paid surveys") or put a full stop in between two words to make sure your result returns pages with the words side by side (e.g. paid.surveys). You can put a minus sign in front of a word to ensure that pages with the word do not show up in your results or the opposite if you use a plus sign. There are many more filtering tricks such as popping .pdf in your criteria if that's what you're after or including the site URL (e.g. bbc.co.uk google) in your criteria if you want to find an article about Google from the BBC website. There are many more of these tricks.
With so many websites and pages on the Internet, it can sometimes be quite tricky to find what you want. Some pages come out on top of the list simply because they are more popular or have been optimised for Google more. Professionals optimise websites to get them higher search rankings on Google and top pages aren't necessarily what you're after. The Google search results algorithm has been known to have been figured out in the way that people knew how to get top ranked results. Best example must be when searching for "miserable failure", George Bush popped up as the number one result. As true as that is, it shows that the Google results are not 100% reliable and higher ranked results may just be high because the sites are optimised better or are more popular.
However, I usually find what I want even if it's not at the very top or on the same results page. Often just requires changing my key words / phrases or filtering. Either way, Google can normally find what you're after. The results aren't necessarily better than those of other search engines but it works.
OTHER GOOGLE FEATURES / SITES
Google also lets you search for Images, Maps, News and Products you like to buy, by simply clicking on the links before or after you do a search. I really like the Images search as I often need just pictures of things and would rather not have to visit a site to see the picture. Google finds the pictures for me and shows them all as thumbnails. Of course, Google also has loads of other features such as Google Mail (aka: Gmail), Google Maps, Adsense, Adwords, Google Video, Google Documents, etc and that's not even including the Google software like Google Earth, Google Toolbar, etc. It's even got a language translation facility where foreign sites in your search results can be translated to English by clicking 'Translate'. Often, the translation isn't very good but it's better than nothing. There are plenty of other features on each results page.
GOOGLE SECRETS REVEALED! Kind of...
Using Google to search is one thing but I use Google to do more than just search for stuff. There are a number of things that Google can do that not many people know.
Now, if you didn't have a calculator handy but wanted to do 243 x 453, Google can do the calculation for you! Yes, just type 243*453 and search to find the result.
Another nice 'secret' is the Currency Conversion utility. Just type "10GBP in USD" and Google will tell you the amount in US Dollar using the current exchange rate! Same with other currencies like EURO to GBP, YEN to GBP, etc.
You can use "Convert 10 cm to inches" or any other measurement conversion.
Type "Define [then the word you want a definition of] and the top result gives you a list of sites with definitions of the word. Handy.
To find webcam feeds, for example, you just include inurl:"ViewerFrame?Mode=" and then the type of webcam you want to search for, such hot naked wome....*cough cough*...you get the idea.
Search for "time" and it returns the time but of course, you could just look at your Taskbar clock in the bottom right of Windows!
Google is still my favourite search engine mainly because of the simplicity of the main page. Having nothing there means it's quicker to load and I can get right down to business. It's also the first search engine that comes to mind because of its popularity. The Google name just slides right off the tongue and is often used in our vocabulary (e.g. to search for something one might say "Google it") so most people must agree. Highly recommended.