Five Ways to ...

Use Google More Effectively

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Google is the UK's biggest search engine, handling millions of searches per day. However, Google also provide a variety of other, less well-known products and features which could prove just as valuable as the search engine.

Here are five of them.

1Visit the Google UK Home PageMake it your home page. If you use Google frequently, you can make it the first page you see when you open up your internet browser.

  • Visit Google and then select Tools from the menu at the top of your screen
  • Select Internet options
  • Select the General tab
  • The first box, called Home page, has a button marked Use Current
  • Clicking this will set Google as your home page, i.e. the first page you see when your browser is opened.

Google will give you the option of giving you a toolbar. Generally we don't recommend this as it means extra, unnecessary software on your computer which could slow it down. Much better to set Google as the home page instead.

You can of course, set any page to be your home page using the technique given above.

2Visit the Google Calendar Home PageShared Calendars. This is an excellent tool for home use or small companies who cannot afford a shared diary system. When you visit Google, you'll see a bar along the top with several options including web, Images, maps etc. The final option says More. Click on this and you will be presented with a drop-down menu. One of the entries on this says Calendar.

Clicking on this will open the Google Calendar home page from which you can view a demo or register for the service. The benefit of the service is that you can maintain a diary on your computer and give access to anyone you choose by giving them the email address and password. To provide additional general security, we suggest using a different password from one you use for any other application, e.g. your online banking service.

Now if your secretary, partner or children want to see where you are, they simply visit Google Calendar and there it is. They can also arrange appointments for you or include their own diary on it so everyone has a clear picture of where everyone else is. Assuming, of course, that you remember to update it.

3Visit the Google Shared Documents Home PageShared Documents. Like Calendar, it is accessed from the More button and allows a user to share documents with other selected users. If you were out on the road, for example, and wanted to send a document back to the office but didn't have email access or the document was too large, you could post it to Documents so the recipient could download it.

Similarly, if someone wanted to send you a document that was too large for email, they could upload it to your account, giving you full access.

4Visit the Google Analytics Home PageAnalytics. This is a fantastic, simple tool for providing web site statistics, e.g. the number of people who visited your site last week. At a glance, it provides the number of visitors in any specified period together with how they found you, the search terms they used and the pages they visited in both tabular and graph format.

After registering with the service, you'll be provided with a few lines of programming code which your web designer will need to include on every page of your site. Once that's done, you'll have full access to all the statistics in one place in a format that's incredibly easy to understand.

5Improve Your Search. It can be soul destroying to see 15 million entries when conducting a search. Hopefully the entry you're looking for will be in the first few pages, otherwise it could take a long time and you may never find what you want. Try these tips for a better experience;

  • Select the "pages from the UK" option rather than "the web" option. Selecting the web option will carry out a worldwide search which is fine if you're looking for a company in Malaysia, but not so good if you want one in Cheshire.
  • Avoid a single search word. If you use a phrase of up to four or five words you'll get closer matches to what you're actually looking for.
  • Enclose the search terms in "quotation marks". Then you'll only get companies who meet that precise criteria, rather than those who meet some of the words.

There is a word of caution here though. Depending on what you're looking for, these tips may not provide you with enough entries as companies need to have developed their site to meet the terms you're searching on.

If you need help with any of the functions listed here or any other features you want to use on Google, please contact us and we'll see what we can do. Please note that this information is provided for general guidance only and P&L cannot accept responsibility for any actions or consequences as a result of using these hints and tips.