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Exercises/Solutions

This page contains hints for or solutions to some (not all!) of the exercises in Google Guide. If you suggest a better way to solve any problem or other problems to include in Google Guide and we include your solution(s) or your problem(s), we will include your name beside your contribution. Please use our contact form to send problems and solutions.

If there’s interest, we’ll consider adding answers to the following problem sets.

Directory (Categories of Topics)
Special Searches
Google Answers
Google Prototypes and Demos
Creating Content for Your Website
Creating a Link to Search Results
Improving Your PageRank
Advertising Your Website
Generating Revenue using AdSense

Below is a list of links to the exercises together with the name of the file where they can be found in Google Guide. Click on the links to see the entire problem set. See an answer below the section in which the corresponding problem appears.

Going Directly to the First Result

  1. Point your browser to Google’s home page by visiting www.google.com. Find Google tutorials by typing [ google tutorial ] (without the square brackets) into Google’s search box and then clicking the “Google Search” button. Click on the link for Google Guide.

    Search for [ google tutorial ] and you’ll find links to many resources that offer help with Google, including this one.

  2. After completing the previous exercise, click the back button on your browser twice to return to Google’s home page and then search again for [ google tutorial ] (without the square brackets). Click on the I’m Feeling Lucky button.

    If you tell your friends about Google Guide and they use it and tell their friends about it, then hopefully Google Guide will become the top ranked result for the query [ google tutorial ].

  3. What is the difference between the results of the previous two exercises?

    The first problem returns links to all pages that match your query while the second returns the first result, which Google speculates is the most relevant to your query.

Selecting Search Terms

  1. Find a page with “Google doodle.”

    Search for [ Google doodle ] and you’ll find a page with the special Google home page logos used to commemorate holidays and special events.

    Google's logos commemorating holidays and special events Google's logos commemorating holidays and special events

  2. What’s Google’s history?

    Search for [ Google history ] and you will find a page entitled “Google Corporate Information: Google History.”

  3. How long did it take the first person to cross the United States by car and in what year was it first done?

    It took Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson sixty-three and a half days to drive from San Francisco to New York City in 1903, according to the Public Broadcasting Service site www.pbs.org/kenburns/films/horatio.html.

    Possible search strategy:
    first cross United States road trip ]
    first cross country road trip America ]

  4. Learn about the recommended tours of the Hearst Castle.

    Search for [ Hearst Castle recommended tour ] and you’ll learn about an incredible mansion, which is now a historical monument. It is located in San Simeon nearly half way from Santa Barbara to San Jose and is worthwhile visiting when you’re in the area.

    Recommended tour for first-time visitors of Hearst Castle

Interpreting Your Query

  1. Indicate which queries would match a page containing “GoogleGuide.”

    Just those that contain the name in its entirety.

    [ guide ]    [ goog ]    [ googleguide ]    [ GoogleGuide ]    [ google ]

  2. Indicate which words the following queries will find:
    [ year-end ] year-end <— year end <— yearend <—
    [ year end ] year-end <— year end <— yearend
    [ yearend ] year-end year end yearend <—
  3. Which queries would you predict to be most likely to find sites with discounted designer linens?

    Because Google returns pages that match variants of your search terms, all the following queries are likely to find sites with discounted designer linens. The first and second queries may be best because Google gives higher priority to pages with terms in the same order as your query. The last query is least likely to rank sites with discounted designer linens because it includes the term “design” rather than “designer.”

    discounted designer linens ]
    discount designer linen ]
    designer linen discount ]
    linen designer discount ]
    linen discounted design ]

    The idea for this problem came when I thought about what queries might generate traffic to my friend’s Designer Linens Outlet site, designerlinensoutlet.com.

  4. With the following queries, is Google doing stemming, i.e., matching variations of the search terms?

    [ color printer ]
    [ color printers ]
    [ color printer OR printers ]

    You can see that Google is doing stemming since the first query matches the word “printers” and the second query matches the word “printer”; the matched words are in a boldface type in the results.

    Google’s estimated number of results are unreliable. Don’t attach any weight to these estimates.

    Google has a system that is suppose to do stemming when it deems that it would be useful. The system sometimes works well and other times doesn’t.

  5. Why doesn’t the query [ Be Manual ] include any results about the Be operating system?

    The word “be” is a stop word, which Google ignores, unless you use quotation marks (" ") around the word or the entire query.

Crafting Your Query

  1. How long before you go outside is it recommended that you apply sunscreen?

    For best results, apply sunscreen approximately 30 minutes before going into the sun so that it can be absorbed by your skin and so that it’s less likely to wash off when you perspire.

    Possible search strategy:
    +when apply sunscreen ]
    tips apply sunscreen ]

  2. Find advice on writing a will.

    Because “will” is a stop word, enclose it in quotes.

    Possible search strategy:
    advice drafting "will" ]
    legal help “drafting will” ]
    tips "will" estate planning ]

  3. Find pages on daily life in Afghanistan that do not mention war or the Taliban.

    Possible search strategy:
    Afghanistan daily life -war -Taliban ]

  4. Find the terms that Google considers approximately equivalent to the term “cheap.”

    Looking at the results of the query [ ~cheap ], you can see that Google considers the following terms approximately equivalent to the term “cheap”: buy, discount, cheapest, last minute, inexpensive, low cost, and bargain.

  5. Find today’s weather forecast/condition.

    Possible search strategy:
    weather forecast OR condition ]

  6. Find studio apartments for rent in Minneapolis or St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Possible search strategy:
    [ studio available OR rent Minneapolis OR “St Paul” ]
    [ “studio apartment” available OR rent Minneapolis OR “St Paul” ]

  7. Why does the query [ “the who” ] give more priority to results about the rock band The Who than the query [ the who ] but return significantly fewer results?

    The query [ “the who” ] returns results with the exact phrase “the who.” The query [ the who ] returns results with the words “the” and “who” in any order and not necessarily together. For instance, the second query could find “WHO, the World Health Organization” and “the boy who cried wolf.”

Sharpening Your Query

  1. What are some home remedies for getting rid of ants?

    Possible search strategy:
    rid ants home remedy ]
    ants “pest control” “home remedies” ]

  2. What is Google’s privacy policy?

    Possible search strategy:
    google privacy policy site:google.com ]

    How do I stop my previous queries from appearing when I type in a new search term?

    The following is from the Google General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), which can be found at www.google.com/help/faq.html#iehistory

    Fortunately (and unfortunately), this has nothing to do with Google. It’s a feature of Internet Explorer 5.0, which is possible to disable using its menu. (You can verify this by going elsewhere on the web to fill out a form and then return to that same page on which you filled out the form.)

    To disable this feature on Internet Explorer 5.0, go to the Tools menu; select Internet Options; select the Content tab. Within the Personal Information area, select AutoComplete. Click on Clear Forms. You can also uncheck the Forms box in this same window to keep this from occurring in the future.

    Alternatively, you can delete individual entries from the history by using the Down arrow key to select a previous search, and then pressing Delete while an unwanted search is highlighted.

    Possible search strategy:
    delete query history ]

  3. When was Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio’s (NPR) legal affairs correspondent, born, where was she educated, what degrees does she have? Did she attend law school?

    Here’s part of the answer that juggler-ga posted to Google Answers, which can be found at answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=224951.

    Nina Totenberg was born January 14, 1944 in New York, NY. She doesn’t have any degrees and did not attend law school.

    Possible search strategy:
    “Nina Totenberg” born ]
    “Nina Totenberg” 1944 ] (Nina Totenberg was born in 1944)
    “Nina Totenberg” “Roman Totenberg” ] (Roman Totenberg is Nina’s father)
    “Nina Totenberg” “law school” ]

  4. What country has the domain code .at?

    Austria’s domain code is .at. Google ignores “at” in a query unless you enclose it in quotes or precede it by a + sign.

Using Search Operators (Advanced Operators)

  1. Use the site: operator to search for armchairs on Ikea’s site, www.ikea.com.

    Possible search strategy:
    armchair site:ikea.com ]

  2. Find all pages on google.com but not on answers.google.com nor on directory.google.com whose titles include the words “FAQ” or “help.”

    Possible search strategy:
    intitle:FAQ OR intitle:help site:google.com -site:answers.google.com -site:directory.google.com ]

    (The operator site:google.com would normally include the domain google.com as well as all of its subdomains, such as x.google.com and y.google.com. Adding -site:answers.google.com -site:directory.google.com specifically excludes those two subdomains of google.com.)

  3. Find pages whose titles include surfing that are not about surfing the World Wide Web.

    Possible search strategy:
    intitle:surfing -WWW -”World Wide Web” ]

  4. How can you search for [ google help ] on Google Guide, www.googleguide.com, and on the UC Berkeley library website, www.lib.berkeley.edu?

    Possible search strategy:
    google help site:googleguide.com OR site:www.lib.berkeley.edu ]

Spelling Corrections

  1. On National Public Radio (NPR), you heard a researcher at Stanford University whose name sounded like Jeff Naumberg and want to send him email. What is Jeff’s email address?

    The spelling corrector suggests the correct spelling of Jeff’s last name.

    Did you mean: “Jeff Nunberg” NPR “Stanford University”

    I clicked on the link and the first result was Geoffrey Nunberg’s home page, which included his email address, i.e., email: nunberg(at)csli.stanford.edu (replace “(at)” with “@”).

    Possible search strategy:
    “Jeff Naumberg” NPR “Stanford University” ]

Definitions

  1. According to the dictionary, what is an “urban legend”?

    Possible search strategy:
    define: urban legend ]

  2. Does Google provide a link to dictionary for definitions of terms in languages other than English?

    Instead of checking Google’s documentation, find out through experimentation. Search for some non-English words and then see any of the words are underlined in the statistics bar section of the results page and linked to their dictionary definitions.

    Based on the experiments I ran today, the US version of Google provides links to dictionary definitions of some non-English words.

    Possible search strategy:
    vino macho ]

Cached Pages

  1. After Nelson Blachman received reprints of a paper he wrote for the June 2003 issue of The Mathematical Scientist, he wanted to discover what other sorts of papers appear in the same issue of this semiannual publication. Find a table of contents for The Mathematical Scientist for Nelson.

    Possible search strategy:
    “The Mathematical Scientist” June 2003 contents ]

    Review results to see if any appear to be relevant to your query

    Since the previous query doesn’t appear to return a table of contents, let’s remove the date from our query.

    “The Mathematical Scientist” contents ]

    This snippet looks promising since it mentions the journal by name and includes the word “contents.”

    Search results typically include a link to Google's cached version of a page

    The first result is the Journal’s web page but it doesn’t contain the table of contents. Clicking on the Cached link and viewing Google’s cached version of the page with the query terms highlighted makes it easy to find the section(s) of the page relevant to our query.

    Search terms are highlighted on the cached version

Similar Pages

  1. Find a site that will get your name off mailing lists so that you receive less commercial advertising mail, also known as junk mail. Click on the Similar pages link to find other such sites.

    The more search strategies you try, the more information you are likely to find.

    Possible search strategy:
    “reduce junk mail” ]
    “reducing junk mail” ]
    “end junk mail” ]
    “less junk mail” ]
    “stop junk mail” ]
    “unwanted mail” ]
    “opt out” “junk mail” ]
    “mail preference service” ]
    remove name from mailing list ]
    get off mailing list ]
    reduce unwanted junk mail ]

    Note: Most of the results from these searches assume you are in the United States.

News Headlines

  1. Find the latest news about Google.

    Possible search strategy:
    google ]

    Click on any of the following:

File Type Conversion

  1. Find a document with tips on job interviewing and salary negotiation that is in PDF/Adobe Acrobat format. What differences in the appearance of the document result from viewing it in its native format, Adobe Acrobat versus HTML?

    Possible search strategy:
    interviewing salary negotiation filetype:pdf ]

    In the pdf version, the spacing between words in section headings is more uniform. Items that are vertically aligned in the pdf version are not vertically aligned in the html version.

  2. Find pdf or Postscript documents and course notes on symplectic geometry that are on university and other educational sites.

    Possible search strategy:
    “symplectic geometry” site:edu filetype:pdf OR filetype:ps ]

Translation

  1. Find out about municipal swimming pools that you can use when visiting Naples. Hint: Find the Italian words for “municipal swimming pools Naples” and then search for them along with the city’s name. You can use your browser’s Copy and Paste features to transfer the Italian words from one screen to another.

    Possible search strategy:
    piscine comunali Napoli ]

  2. Translate “I wish to mail a package. Where is the nearest post office? Thank you.” into Spanish.

    Use Google’s Language Tools Translate text feature.

    A screen shot of Google's Language Tools Text Translation tool.

    Select “English to Spanish” and click on the Translate button.

    A screen shot of Google's Language Tools text Translation result.

    Google provides the following Spanish translation:

    Deseo enviar un paquete. ¿Dónde está el correos más cercano? Gracias.

  3. Restrict your search to France and search for pages English on the war in Iraq.

    Use Google Language Tools to restrict the query [ war Iraq ] to pages located in France that are written in English.

    A screen shot of restricting a search for [ war Iraq ] to pages in France that are written in English

Customizing Your Results by Using Preferences

  1. If you would like to have more than one set of preferences on your computer, e.g., one of searching French language sites and to search all sites, then find tools for enabling you to specify more than one set of preferences using more than one cookie.

    Possible search strategy:
    managing cookies ]

Google’s Approach to Ads

  1. How many sponsored links (ads) appear on the first search-results page with the answer to the following questions?
    1. Where can you stay in central London at a moderate price?

      Possible search strategy:
      hotel central London moderate price ]

      There are 2 ads above and 8 ads to the right of the search results.

    2. What’s going on with NASA’s Mars Exploration Program?

      Possible search strategy:
      NASA Mars Exploration Program ]

      I’ve seen any where from zero to two ads appearing along side the search results.

Evaluating What You Find

Find documents on the web that provide the answers to the following questions. What’s your level of comfort with the referring site(s) and why?

I posted the following questions to Google Answers, service that provides assistance from expert online researchers for a fee. If no results match your query, Google offers search tips. The following solutions include information Google Researchers provided as well as a link to their complete answers.

  1. Is it true that if you touch a cold halogen bulb with clean fingers, you will shorten its lifespan?

    Here’s part of the answer that sublime1-ga posted to Google Answers:

    Yes, healthy skin, even recently cleaned, will produce natural oils, and, these oils on halogen bulb will shorten its lifespan.

    Possible search strategies:
    touch ruin “halogen bulb” ]
    touch oil “halogen bulb” ]
    +why not touch “halogen bulb” ]

  2. Are you less likely to get dental cavities if you drink fluoridated water?

    Here’s part of the answer that jon-ga posted to Google Answers:

    The short answer to your question is yes - fluoride is good for the teeth and so water containing fluoride is a good thing for cavity-prevention.

    Possible search strategies:
    “fluoridated water” ]
    “fluoridated water” “dental cavities” ]

  3. Is clumping kitty litter a major health hazard to cats?

    Here’s part of the answer that missy-ga posted to Google Answers:

    Whether or not clumping kitty litter is a health hazard for cats is a matter of some debate. Since there haven’t been any clinical studies, it really comes down to whom you ask and which brand you’re asking about. Most of the current controversy swirls around brands that use Sodium Bentonite, a highly absorbent clay. Brands that do not contain Sodium Bentonite seem to be considered safer.

    Possible search strategies:
    “clumping litter” hazardous ]
    “clumping litter” safe ]
    scoopable litter hazardous ]
    scoopable litter safe ]

  4. What are the benefits and drawbacks of a flu (influenza) shot?

    Here’s part of the answer that crabcakes-ga posted to Google Answers:

    There are far more documented reasons to get the vaccine (injectable or nasal spray versions) than to refuse it, but plenty of flu vaccine controversy exists.

    Possible search strategies:
    flu vaccine ]
    pros cons flu vaccine ]

  5. Does microwaving food in plastic containers or plastic cling wrap release harmful chemicals into the food? Check whether this is an urban legend.

    Here’s part of the answer that crabcakes-ga posted to Google Answers:

    The short answer is: Yes, chemicals can migrate into the food. The issue is whether they are harmful.

    Possible search strategies:
    toxic chemicals plastic wrap ]
    plastic wrap microwave cooking ]

Making Search Easier with Google Tools

  1. If you use Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and Internet Explorer 5.5 or a more recent version, install the Google Deskbar on your system.

    Visit toolbar.google.com/deskbar/ and click on the “Download Google Deskbar.”

  2. If you use Internet Explorer, install the Google Toolbar on your system. If you use another browser, install Google Browser Buttons on your system.

    Visit toolbar.google.com/ and click on the “Download Google Toolbar.”

  3. Make Google your home page.

    To have the Google home page appear whenever you start your browser, click on the “Make Google Your Homepage” link on Google’s home page. If the link is missing, follow the instructions listed on www.google.com/options/defaults.html.

  4. Make Google your default search engine.

    Follow the directions listed on www.google.com/options/defaults.html#default.

Calculator

  1. Convert 1 mile to meters.

    One mile is equal to 1609.344 meters.

    Possible calculation strategy:
    1 mile in meters ]

  2. Convert 0 kelvin to Fahrenheit or Celsius.

    0 degrees kelvin is approximately equal to -273.15 degrees Celsius.

    Possible calculation strategy:
    0 degrees kelvin in Celsius ]

  3. Which is larger pi^e or e^pi? The same relationship holds between x^e and e^x for all non-negative values of x except e. The exponential constant, e, is approximately 2.72 and the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle, pi, is approximately 3.14.

    e^pi > pi^e

    Possible calculation strategy:
    e^pi-pi^e ]

  4. Compute the probability of your winning the lottery if you buy 1,000 tickets each bearing five distinct independently randomly chosen integers between 1 and 99.

    The following answer was contributed by Nelson Blachman (Nancy’s father).

    You might try [ 1 - (1 - 1/(99 choose 5))^1000 ], but this is well approximated by [ 1000/(99 choose 5) ], which is roughly 0.00001 . If each ticket costs $1, the prize had better be at least $100 million to be fair to you — and higher if you might have to share the prize with other winners.

Street Maps

  1. Get a map showing the most crookedest section of Lombard Street in San Francisco, which is between 1000 and 1100 Lombard Street.

    Possible research strategy:
    1100 Lombard Street San Francisco CA ]

Stock Quotes

  1. Obtain a chart of Ebay’s stock price for the past 5 years by entering Ebay’s stock symbol, ebay, clicking on the link “Show stock quotes” and then selecting a 5-year chart.

    Possible research strategy:
    ebay ]

  2. Using the similar pages feature, find competitors to google.com that are run by public companies. Check whether their stock prices have been climbing or dropping in the past three months.

    Possible research strategy:
    related:google.com ]
    yhoo askj ] (stock symbols for Yahoo and Ask Jeeves respectively)

Definitions (Google Gossary)

  1. What does aka mean?

    Aka is short for “also known as.”

    Possible search strategy:
    what is aka ]

  2. Google is named after the word “googol.” What is a googol?

    The result of this query includes a link to the dictionary definition in the statistics bar, the value of 1 googol provided by Google’s built-in calculator function, and a definition provided by Google Glossary.

    1 googol is 1 followed by a hundred zeros

    Possible search strategy:
    what is googol ]

  3. What does the abbreviation IRL commonly stand for?

    IRL commonly stands for “In Real Life.”

    Possible search strategy:
    define:irl ]

Travel Conditions

  1. Find the travel conditions for Los Angeles International Airport.

    First, I find the code for the Los Angeles International Airport.

    Los Angeles International Airport code ]

    Then I look up the travel conditions.

    lax airport ]

Images

  1. I used a color chart to select colors for this tutorial. Find some color charts that show the HTML input to render at least 100 colors.

    Possible search strategy:
    html color chart ]

  2. Find a photograph of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain to see whether you want to take a vacation and visit the Alhambra.

    Possible search strategy:
    Alhambra ]
    Alhambra Granada ]
    Alhambra Spain OR España ]

Groups (Discussion Forums)

  1. Find recommendations for sites for booking flights online.

    Possible search strategy:
    recommendations booking flights online ]
    recommendations book flights online ]
    recommendations flights online ]

  2. Find reviews of online banking services.

    Possible search strategy:
    online banking reviews ]

  3. How can you remove varnish from a maple coffee table?

    Possible search strategy:
    remove varnish maple ]

  4. Find the list of especially memorable articles and threads from Usenet that Google has compiled.

    Possible search strategy:
    memorable articles Usenet ]

News

  1. Find today’s current top stories listed on Google News.

    Just visit news.google.com.

Alerts

  1. Set up a Google Alert to automatically email you about new pages in Google Guide.

    Create an alert for the Web query [ site:www.googleguide.com ]

Product Search

  1. Use Product Search to find 100% cotton comforter covers.

    Possible search strategy:
    100% cotton comforter covers ]
    100% cotton duvet cover ]

  2. Tired of putting on sun screen? Find sun-protective clothing with Product Search.

    Possible search strategy:
    sun protective clothing ]
    uv protective clothing OR hats ]

Catalogs

  1. Find 100% cotton comforter covers.

    Possible search strategy:
    100% cotton comforter covers ]
    100% cotton duvet covers ]

  2. Tired of putting on sun screen? Find sun-protective clothing.

    Possible search strategy:
    sun-protective clothing ]

If you suggest a way to solve any exercise that I include in Google Guide, I will include your name beside your contribution. Please use our contact form to send problems and solutions.

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This page was last modified on: Sunday February 26, 2012

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For Google tips, tricks, & how Google works, visit Google Guide at www.GoogleGuide.com. Google Guide is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Google.

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By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy & create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.

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