Just as the brand Kleenex eventually became synonymous with tissues, so has Google become synonymous with search engines. Incredibly, Google’s billionaire founders’ original plan wasn’t to be a cross-platform media company – they initially planned to remain a pure technology company. Of course, that all changed as Google has become one of the fastest growing companies of all time and diversified into so many sectors that it sometimes seems as if Google really is just a few steps away from taking over the world.
In March 2007, Google passed industry giant Microsoft as the most visited website with over 528 million visits for the month. Since then they haven’t looked back and scary levels of revenue have followed. Last quarter their revenue was over $15 billion, a staggering figure but one that the company actually cited as disappointing! Google really has come a long way since it was a local search Stanford search engine started by two PhD students.
What is it about the search engine and its attendant projects that have made it so supremely successful in one of the most democratically competitive industries in the world today? Maybe people think it is the combination of cutting edge thinking and the stress free working environment they create for their employees. Their employees always seem to want to go that extra mile for the company when it comes to innovation and creative thinking. Then there’s the cutthroat nature of the business; Google is ready and waiting to buy up just about any useful technology before it gets off the ground, to develop and perfect their projects and allow them to continue to monopolise the world wide web.
Whatever it is, Google is doing something right; indeed, it’s doing something crucially better than any other company out there. Much like our own brains, we all use Google – most of us every day – but we’re usually using only a miniscule part of the whole. There are so many hidden features and useful hacks in the Googleverse that it’s impossible to list them all in limited space, but below we’ve taken a look at five features – some useful, some even a little creepy – that you didn’t know about.
5. Search Hacks You Didn’t Know About
We all know how to type words in the Google search box to get to a website or websites we think will have the information we need. But many of us do not know how many advanced features are built into Google search or how to use them. Take a look at a few:
You can use ‘site:’ then the keyword and Google will only return results from one website. If you type in the word ‘related:’ then the website, it will return results that include similar type websites. You can also use ‘define’ in the same way and Google will give you a dictionary term for the word, its usage in speech, and more. These additional search tools are incredibly useful and streamline the whole search process. Webmasters can use them to their advantage for search engine optimization purposes, employing these tools to study and research their competition.
4. Google Has Enhanced Image Features Many Don’t Know About
When it comes to getting images over the internet Google does it all. In the search bar you can type a name and search the persons face only, images, clip art, or any number of things by simply clicking on search tools and selecting a choice from the drop down menu. You can search specifically for animations or line drawings. It will tell you the length and width of the photo pixel size so you know the quality of the photo before you download. Google can also take you to the website the photo came from so you can purchase it or give credit to the source site. It also has a feature called auto enhance, an editing tool for photos and a feature called auto awesome that can help make photos and video look better.
3. Throw out the Calculator and Conversion Charts
Google has a built in calculator that will stand up alongside any you ever brought to math or science class. Not only will it do basic arithmetic, but it will also calculate logarithms and more. It can do metric and English conversions for weight and volume. You can type in a city followed by the word ‘forecast’ and it will get you the latest weather report. It can also tell you the time where you are and the time at any other place in the world. In addition it can track packages for any of the major package shipping companies. It really seems amazing when we consider the time and creative effort Google has taken to make things so convenient. You can even, incredibly, track a flight without going through the multiple clicks and having to sign in on an airline website; just type in the flight number and the information will pop up on your screen. These tools are not only efficient for personal use, but they can also be used by businesses. Businesses can use Google tools to calculate financial ratios, manage workflow, and calculate their investment portfolios with ease. Additionally, businesses can use these tools to make presentations both online and offline.
2. Google Has An Artsy, Interactive Personality
Google has several arts and graphic teams working tirelessly to make the brand as attractive and memorable as possible. They change their logo all the time and it often corresponds to a theme, like a holiday or an international event. Google manages to do a whole lot with their almost blank home search page, but sometimes it’s so subtle we barely notice.
For instance, if you type, ‘do a barrel roll’, your screen will actually roll over once. You can go to Mars on Google Earth and talk to Meliza, the chat box alien that lives there. If you are looking for something on Google Earth and get bored you can hit, CTRL + Alt + A, select a jet, and fly around the map a little. You can also use Google as a proxy server and to translate into many different languages, including Klingon; yes Klingon! They like to have some fun at Google.
1. Google’s Chess Game: Page Rank
Google started out with a system that placed a site at the top of the search results based on popularity and how many sites legitimately linked to that site. It is this that the company strived for; a fair and accurate assessment of what people wanted to know about and find.
However, like all good things, people found a way to get around that and started to make bogus websites with backlinks to increase traffic to their sites; this did not sit well with Google’s management because these new site rankings were not representative of true popularity. So now Google strives to come up with new and mysterious ways to keep its old philosophy intact by playing a never ending game of chess with the web users who try to circumnavigate the system.
Because there is a financial advantage to being ranked high, the Google team has worked hard to try and stay one step ahead of the abusers. Google has had to do things like eliminate AdWords accounts and take other punitive measures with no explanation, and the customer has no recourse and often no explicit explanation for their falling in the rankings. The ‘little engine that could’ is now wielding so much power and control that its practices are causing fears for the autonomy and neutrality of the world wide web. Still, users benefit from intelligent, legitimate and reliable search results… Sometimes, you’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t.