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“Why don’t you Google it? Do you use Google Docs? Have you looked it up on Google Maps? Can you share the file on Google Drive?”

If everybody around you speaks an alien language called Google, it’s time you learnt it, too. So let’s see what Google is and how it can help you.

What Is Google?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a vending machine that dispensed information? You already do! It’s called Google and it lives on the internet at google.com. Instead of feeding it money, you have to feed it words, phrases, or any snippet of text you want more information about. In return, Google pushes out resource after resource that it considers as relevant to your query.

Technically speaking, Google:

  1. Crawls (scans) websites to collect various details about them.
  2. Indexes (collates) webpages into a database.
  3. Retrieves webpages that are most relevant to your search query.

Actually, that’s how all search engines work, and Google is one of them—the most popular of them all. A few of the other noted search engines include Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and Ask.

Google’s search results are webpage links to articles, images, videos, maps, books, etc. and usually, there are pages and pages of them. More often than not, you’ll find the most relevant links on the first page itself. Google has special behind-the-scenes rules called algorithms to stipulate the order in which the search results show up. The resource that appears first is ranked higher than the one that follows.

Now that you have a basic idea of what Google is all about, it’s time to see how exactly you can use it to find the information you want. You’ll need an active internet connection for that, of course.

search Google from the address bar in Opera browser

While the Google search engine lives at google.com, you don’t need to visit the website itself to start a Google search. Your browser’s address bar has embedded internet search capabilities. This means that to trigger an internet search or a web search you simply have to type in your query in the address bar and then hit Enter.

Is this web search a Google search? That depends on the browser you’re using and its default search engine, which happens to be Google in quite a few popular browsers. If it isn’t, you can configure it to be the default from your browser’s settings. (Not sure what a browser is? It’s the desktop program you use to access the internet. Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi are all examples of browsers.)

change the default search engine in Opera browser

If you’d rather leave the default setting alone, you can still do an internet search from the address bar. But, the results will show up in the search engine that’s set as the default. For a Google search, you’ll have to visit google.com and type in your search query in the search box provided on the website. Your search results will show up after you click on the Google Search button below the search box. (Pressing the Enter key also works.)

search box on Google's homepage

Wondering where the second button—I’m Feeling Lucky—will lead you? If you click on that instead of the Google Search button, Google takes you to the webpage that ranks first in the search results.

For example, let’s say you type makeuseof in the search box. Now, if you click on the Google Search button, Google displays links to our website, YouTube channel, Twitter page, Facebook page, and so on. But, if you click on the I’m Feeling Lucky button, Google jumps to our website—makeuseof.com—the first link in the search results.

What Should You Type Into Google?

You can ask Google about anything—meanings of words, flight times, recipes, historical facts, consumer products, current events, trivia, electronics, the weather, anything. As you start typing into the search box, Google nudges you along with autocomplete suggestions of its own.

Autocomplete suggestions by Google Search

Begin your search with one or more keywords that are most relevant to the topic you have in mind. Sentences, questions, and phrases also work. You don’t have to bother with punctuation, capitalization, or even placing the keywords in a particular order. Google knows how to look past the rules of grammar to get to the heart of your query and displays results accordingly.

You can rest assured that there’s no such thing as a wrong query, but the links that show up as search results will vary based on what you ask Google. Here are a few sample queries to get you started:

  • weather in nevada
  • distance between 2 parallel lines
  • eggs benedict recipe
  • should i ask for a raise
  • who designed the statue of liberty
  • is chris hemsworth british
  • where is seychelles
  • how to do handstands
  • marmalade ingredients
  • is tomato a fruit
  • binary anagram

Once you’re comfortable running a basic web search and want to learn more, our Google Search FAQ will come in handy. It will help you narrow down search results with filters, search for images, hide explicit content, view your search history, and do a lot more.

The Google That’s Not a Search Engine

Google is not only the name of the search engine we introduced above, but also the name of the company that created it. A few years ago, that parent company split into multiple subsidiary companies, the largest of which is called Google. The original Google—the umbrella under which the new Google is a subsidiary—now goes by the name Alphabet.

Do you need to remember any of this to use Google Search? Not at all! That was just a tidbit of information that seemed worth sharing.

What Is Google Plus?

grid view of Google apps on Google homepage

The company that created Google Search has also created many other apps and tools that promise to make your digital life easier. One of them is Google Plus—a social networking platform like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You don’t need to explore it further because it has been officially shut down.

Wondering which other Google tools you can make use of apart from Google Search? You probably use a couple of them already—Gmail and YouTube. Here are a few others we recommend:

  • Google Drive: To store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere
  • Google Docs: To create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online
  • Google Keep: To store notes with text, images, lists, and audio clips
  • Google Maps: To find your way around any part of the world, whether you’re traveling by car, bicycle, or foot

You’re Ready to Google

Google is so popular that its name is now synonymous with a web search, even if you use a search engine that’s not Google! Tell people to google something and they won’t think it’s weird—the Oxford English dictionary includes google as a verb, after all. If you come across a topic that’s difficult to find information on using any search engine, you can call it ungoogleable.

No doubt Google Search is a brilliant utility to have at your fingertips. But, it also proves harmful for your privacy with its vigorous tracking of your activity around the web.

What’s the alternative then? Are there search engines less intrusive than Google Search? Yes! We recommend using privacy-focused search engines like DuckDuckGo and Startpage.

Don’t want to give up Google Search now that you have just discovered its magic? How about hiding your tracks from Google?

Read the full article: What Is Google? How to Do an Internet Search