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Guide to Google: Home

An introduction to some of the many tools Google offers.

How does Google work?

Page Ranking
Google  ranks pages according to how many other pages link to that page, the popularity of those linking pages, the quality of the linking sites, and the number of times keywords appear on a page. 

What are sponsored links?
These are ads paid for by businesses; they are not search results from Google's databases.  Companies pay Google each time someone clicks on their ads.


Thanks to Margie Clark from the Camosun College Library for the original layout of this guide and to Kay Cahill and Michle Pye (their original material is at

Google Doodles

Doodles are the fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.  Google artists have produced over 1,000 doodles.

Click on a doodle name below to see it at the Google website.

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Why (or Why Not) Google?

Whether you agree with the opinion that Google is "the best" search engine available, the fact is that  Google is widely used by most students, staff and faculty here at Bethel College.

This guide is meant to introduce you to some of Google's special features and services that can help make your research more effective. 

Quick Google help

Some basic search tips:

  • Use quotation marks when searching for a phrase e.g. "genetic engineering".
  • Use the I'm feeling lucky button to find the most popular website on a topic e.g. if you search Camosun library and use the feeling lucky button you will be taken directly to our library homepage.

Search website titles:

    • You can make a search more precise by limiting your search words to the title of the page e.g. allintitle:climate change

Search specific sites or domains:

  • You can limit your search to specific sites or domains by using the command site: e.g. add site:eduto your search to locate your search terms at .edu sites only. Other domains that might prove useful are:
    • site:gove searches for U.S. government websites
    • site:org searches non-profit organization sites

Search for specific document types:

    • You can search for specific document types by adding the command filetype: to the end of your search. This allows you to search for pdfs, PowerPoint presentations, Excel files and others e.g. filetype:pdf, filetype:ppt, filetype:xls

Find a definition:

  • Use the command define: nanotechnology to locate a definition

Advanced search option:

  • you can combine many of the above commands if you start your search in the Advanced Search screen instead of using the basic search option

Google Numbers

Google has this fascination with numbers. Numbers of all sorts.


It’s simple. Type the sum you want to calculate in the search box and press enter.

If the calculation has a number of different steps, work through them one at a time.

Weights and Measures

Type the quantity you want to convert and then the measurement you want to convert it to, for example:

  • 25 pounds in kilograms
  • 32 miles in kilometres

Try it out:

  • How many tablespoons are there in a cup?
  • What is the square root of 74?
  • What is 37% of 529?

For more information:

Currency Conversion

Again, just type in the amount and the currency you want to convert and the currency you want to convert to. If you’re not sure of the currency used in a particular country, use the terms ‘currency’ or ‘money’ instead. For example:

  • 40 Canadian dollars in British pounds
  • 25 Danish currency in Australian money

Answer these questions: 

  • What is 50 Canadian dollars worth in Euros?
  • How much would you get in Israeli currency for 20 British pounds dollars?

Phone Numbers, Zip Codes & Addresses

You can look up US street addresses and phone numbers via the search box. You'll see publicly listed phone numbers and addresses at the top of results pages for searches that contain specific kinds of keywords.

Type any of the following combinations into the Google search box: 

  • first name (or first initial), last name, city (state is optional)
  • first name (or first initial), last name, area or zip code
  • phone number, including area code
  • last name, city, state

Look for: 

  • What is Andy Becker’s work number? He lives in Seattle.
  • I’m looking for someone with a last name Smith in Denver. A phone number would be great.

Tracking Numbers, UPC Codes & Stocks

Parcel tracking IDs, patents and other specialized numbers can be entered into Google's search box for quick access to information about them. For example, typing a FedEx tracking number will return the latest information on your package. Other special search by number types include: 

  • UPS tracking numbers
  • FedEx tracking numbers
  • USPS tracking numbers
  • Vehicle ID (VIN) numbers
  • UPC codes
  • Telephone area codes
  • Patent numbers (e.g. patent 5123123)
  • Stock and mutual fund quotes (e.g. GOOG)

Give it a try: 

  • What is Microsoft trading at today?
  • I found a barcode – 9780805080438. What does it belong to?
  • What is the patent number for a Sharpie pen?

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Google Online Help

Google Translator

Google Translate supports 51 languages and 2,550 language pairs (Spanish to English, Spanish to French, etc.) - including all 23 official EU languages. While the company admitted that the translation quality of these newest languages is still a little rough, Google has said this will improve over time.

You can submit a phrase, paragraph or a webpage to have a translation done.