(www.google.com) has become my
favorite internet search site. It is lightning fast, and it has an
uncanny ability to put the most relevant sites near the top of the
The home page is simple, clear and ad-free.
Google tells you how many pages it has indexed (more than 1.3 billion,
as this article was written).
Google offers typical search capabilities. Unless
quotation marks are present to designate a phrase search, there is a
presumed "and" between search words. Google supports logical
Interestingly, to provide the most accurate
results, Google does not support root searches or wild cards. If
alternative word forms are important, the user must enter them
Google has many advanced search features. Some of
the most important include searching by Google directory category
(similar to Yahoo! category searching); restricting a search to a
particular website, or to all websites in a particular language; and
finding pages that link to a given page.
The ability to search Adobe Portable Document
Format (PDF) files is a recent addition. Google also can serve as a
multifaceted reference guide, offering telephone and address look-ups,
stock quotes, maps and dictionary definitions.
For each search result, Google displays the name
of the identified web page, a textual excerpt with query terms bolded
and the URL. When you click on "Similar Pages" for a given result,
Google searches the web for pages related to that result.
Google's high accuracy in searching and Similar
Pages results from PageRank, a system that Google's founders
PageRank examines the linking structure of the
web. The more other pages link to a given page, the more
"important" that page is. In addition, to the extent that a given
page is important, it makes the pages that it links to more important.
In processing a search, Google first looks for
all pages that satisfy the search terms. Then Google uses PageRank to
present those pages in order by importance.
Users who are particularly impatient can take
advantage of "I'm Feeling Lucky," which skips the results list
and displays the most highly ranked page.
Near the top of the results page, Google displays
a statistics bar, which shows the approximate number of search results
and the search time.
Search times normally are less than one-half
second. On a dial-up connection, searches are fast. On a high-speed
digital connection, they are almost instantaneous.
Google's speed is the result of two factors: an
efficient search algorithm and thousands of low-cost, networked PCs
that work together as a super-fast search engine.
Any website discussion must address advertising.
Google has sponsors so it can exist as a free service. Fortunately,
Google's placement of ads is tasteful and unobtrusive.
Google does not have garish ads plastered all
over its results page. Instead, if search terms match those specified
by sponsor, clearly-identified "sponsored links" appear above the
Any time I review a product or service, I discuss
significant negative features. Amazingly enough, Google has none. It
is great, and near as I can tell, no competitor comes close.
Shultz is vice president and legal counsel for an international
financial services organization, where he specializes in technology
licensing and related transactions. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.