Virtually all of Google’s services support the same basic search syntax. While not capable of full boolean queries, your Google searches can be quite powerful.
"quotation marks"to surround phrases, making sure that the words you search for are found together
ORbetween words or phrases if you are looking for items which have either. The
ORapplies only to the word/phrase on either side, eg.
black cat OR kittenwill find items that include cat and also contain either cat or kitten.
*) can be used inside a phrase as a wildcard word, eg.
"I like * in the morning"will match I like coffee in the morning and I like tea in the morning, among others.
~best "board game"also uses words like top and greatest in addition to best.
beagle 1800..1900will find pages that refer to the voyage of the HMS Beagle that Charles Darwin was on, as the boat sailed within that time range.
fieldname:value. For example in web search you can use
inurl:cheeseto find cheese only in web page URLs, and in Gmail you can use
is:unreadto find unread emails. Here are a several special fields that work in more than one Google service:
site:wikipedia.orgto look only within a particular website (here using Wikipedia as an example)
filetype:pdfto find only PDF documents (or change to any other file extension)
intitle:to look only within titles
In 1996-1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with an algorithm to rank web pages, called PageRank. Realizing the potential to improve search engines, they tried and failed to sell the technology to any. So they founded Google, which in an incredibly short period of time has become one of the world’s most powerful companies.
While primarily known as a search engine, Google now makes a wide variety of web-based and other software and is known for investing in wide-ranging projects outside their core such as through their philanthropic arm, Google.org. Their products are available in almost every country and in a very large number of languages.
Google’s enourmously successful advertising business accounts for almost all of their revenue and allows Google to subsidize many other ideas. Their advertising has expanded greatly but its basis is a system where companies bid to advertise against keywords, which results in targeted, cost-effective, and result-measured ads. This was largely borrowed from the technique created by GoTo.com (now Yahoo! Search Marketing, over which Google has since settled a lawsuit.
Google is a market and quality leader in web search, online maps, online video (through YouTube), and areas. Each of their products competes with others, and in many categories they are far from the leader, such as in social networking (Facebook and others are far ahead of Google’s Orkut), and online payment (Paypal is ahead of Google Checkout). Despite these competitors, Google wields enormous influence, as almost all activities online touch at least one Google product. Even when not using Google itself, you are likely to be on a web page which is using AdSense to earn money, using Analytics to track their visitors, or using one of their many web service APIs such as Google Maps to display information.
Due to their large size and activity in so many spheres, there is plenty of Google controversy, including around privacy, intellectual property, and interaction with governments (eg. China). See Criticism of Google on Wikipedia for details. As Google's web search engine has by far the largest market share, changes to their algorithms affect how web pages rank, and this can cause large changes in the amount of visitors various websites recieve, and thus the profits they earn from their visitors.
Why not use nothing but Google all the time? Even if you have no philisophical objections (see above on Google criticism), the truth is that if you only use Google, you are missing out. Just looking at web search engines, while Google may be better overall, it isn’t the best all the time. Each search engine includes web pages that the other does not, ranks web pages differently, and and has a variety of different features.
Try out the Bing search engine, for instance, for web, image, and other searches. Bing and other alternatives are available on Fagan Finder: see web search, images, video, news, maps, and other pages. Here is a quick list of some less-known but excellent alternatives to some other popular Google services: