All Things Google

This isn't really a rant, but it needs to be said. Google is by far the best general search engine out there. If you don't use it already, then you are missing out. Not only does Google have the fastest, most relevant search results - it also gives you many options to maximize your searching capability. The Google Toolbar is an invaluable tool, as it allows you to search from anywhere without having to load the Google home page. You can customize the options to open results in a new window, if you desire, so that you can continue browsing a site while finding further information from others, and much more. More important than any other feature, it contains an excellent pop-up blocker. I have tried other pop-up blocking software, and have never been impressed. They would let pop-ups through, and would prevent you from opening a new page unless you held control while clicking a link. The Google toolbar blocks pop-ups quite well, but it automatically detects when you manually click a link, and allows them through with no special effort on your part.

I discovered only recently that Google also provides free web and site search engines. Any website can use Google's amazing engine, and it is completely free. Even better, it encourages you to modify the results to look more like your own site. You can change background colors, text colors, link colors, and add your site's logo if you choose. If you have a website, go to Google Free now to set up your very own results page.

That isn't all, though. A fairly new extension, Froogle, is an excellent comparison shopping engine. Like Bizrate or DealTime, it searches online retailers for the best price on a product. In almost every case, Froogle finds a better selection and better prices than other sites I have tried, and their product list is more varied as well. For the computer crowd, the value of most shopping sites diminishes rapidly, because they have a limited selection of parts. Froogle, on the other hand, has indexed every computer part I have ever searched for, even when I enter very specific search terms. It is comparable to PriceWatch, recognized as one of the premiere technology price search engines, but Froogle does everything, not just computers and accessories.

Next week, I'll do a segment on using Google - how you can use the advanced search or other features to find exactly what you want, the first time you try. Be sure to stop by next week and read it if you have trouble or simply want to improve your research skills.