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Making the Most out of Google as a Research Tool (Part 1 of 2)

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It's amazing how much new stuff Google has come up with since 2004, when my article series "Unlocking Google's Hidden Potential as a Research Tool" appeared here. If you're feeling like you just can't keep up with those ubergeeks at the Googleplex, you're not alone. This two-part article series should do the job of bringing you up to speed on Google's latest-and-greatest inventions and innovations.

Google's index has grown from 6 billion documents to well over 8 billion documents. Google Images has grown from 880 million images to over 1 billion, and Google Groups has grown from 845 million Usenet posts to over 1 billion.

Not to be outdone, Yahoo significantly expanded its index as well, reporting a size exceeding 20 billion "objects" (which includes not just Web pages but also images and other multimedia files). This is good news for us searchers, as it means we've got more comprehensive databases to query; but the bad news is that both Google's and Yahoo's indices are still plagued by duplicate pages.

Google did away with its 10-word query limit and upped it to a 32-word limit. Yahoo has no query word limit, which is especially handy if you are restricting your results to a group of sites, and the number in the group causes you to exceed Google's word limit (using the site: operator).

"Stop words," which are overly common words like the, an, of, in, where, who, and is used to be omitted from your web search query, but no longer. Google News, however, still ignores them.


The unsupported daterange: query operator has been phased out of existence. This is unfortunate, but Google now offers the date: operator as an alternative. With it, you can restrict search results to pages added or updated within a specified number of months. Only certain numbers are allowed with this operator, namely 3, 6 or 12. Supply that number of months after the operator as follows: marketing plan date:3


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Stephan Spencer is author of Google Power Search (July 2011) and co-author of The Art of SEO, now in its second edition (March 2012). He is also the founder of Netconcepts which started as a Web design and marketing agency, but over time morphed into a leading SEO firm. Netconcepts was acquired in January 2010 by paid and organic search software/services agency Covario. Stephan is the inventor of the automated pay-for-performance natural search technology platform GravityStream, now re-branded as Organic Search Optimizer.

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