Google is easy to use, but if you follow these simple tips, you can become an expert Googler and be able to find exactly what you need quickly and easily.

Ten important Google Tips for better searching

We all know that Google does most of the work, but if you take the time to think about your search, you will get better results. Sometimes you have to be a little creative. For instance if you just search for Sandy Berger, you will get information on me as well as my namesake from the Clinton administration. Since we have the same name, it is difficult to narrow down the search just find information about me. Yet, you can do just that if you search for Sandy Berger -Clinton.

1. Use double quotation marks
When searching for phrases and names, use double quotation marks. This instructs Google to treat multiple words as a single term. It will return on web pages where the words inside the quotes are used together in the same order. For example, if you search for Sandy Berger blog you will get results about me and about my blog, plus information on Washington's Sandy Berger, the former Clinton National Security Advisor who stuffed documents down his pants. However if you search for "Sandy Berger blog", you will get only results about my blog.

2. Let Google do the work by using a tilde (~)
By using a simple tilde (~) you can have Google look up different words that mean the same thing. For example, if you use the search term inexpensive laptop, Google will find laptops that say "inexpensive". However if you put a tilde in front and search making the search term ~inexpensive laptop, Google will match similar terms for inexpensive like cheap, affordable, and low cost.

3. Exclude terms with a minus sign (-)
Use a minus sign before certain words to exclude those words from the search results. For instance use George -Washington to get information about Georges, but not George Washington. Be sure to put a space before the minus sign.

4. Search in one web site
To search inside any website, use the word site followed by a colon and a space. For example to search for me in The Pilot's newspaper's website where I write a weekly column, enter site:thepilot.com sandy berger

5. Choose your search words carefully
Choose your search words carefully. Be as specific as possible in indicating what you are looking for. For example if you enter the word jaws, you will get a lot of information on the movie Jaws, but you will also get information on JAWS, a reading program for the blind and a women's journalism group called JAWS. To get only information on the movie Jaws, you should add the word movie after jaws.

While Google ignores many simple words like a, an and the, you should avoid using a questions. For example, the query, Does Florida have alligators, instructs Google to find pages containing all the terms. The better search term would be Florida alligators.

6. Use the Google's Tools to speed up your search
When you are on the main Google search page, look for the word "Settings" at the bottom right of the screen. Click on that and then click "Advanced Search". You will find a page which will give you easy-to-understand options to narrow your search.
Or, after you have started a search, when in a Google search results page, you will see a menu above the first search result where you can limit your search by choosing things like the Web, Images, Videos, News, etc. If you choose Search Tools, several choices will pop up like Any Time and All Results. Use the down arrow next to these choices to narrow your search.

7. If Math was always a stumbling block for you, let Google to the math and equivalencies
Ever need to know how many quarts are in a gallon, how many pounds in a ton, or how many miles in a kilometer? Google will do it all for you very quickly. Just type quarts in gallon, pounds in ton, etc. Need to convert to metrics? Just enter your equivalency. For instance, enter 2 inches in mm or 35 dollars in euros or 75 Fahrenheit in Celsius, and you will get an immediate answer. Google will also do simple math for you. Just enter the numbers you want to add, subtract, or multiply as an expression. For instance 144+234 or 144x234. You can also use words like 144 plus 234 or 144 times 234. If you want to try Google at higher math, have at it. You'll find Google can answer some pretty complex problems.

8. Use Google as a dictionary
You don't have to go to a dictionary website to get a definition. Just enter define: followed by the word you want to define. You will be presented with the definition and often there will be additional information like the pronunciation and etymology of that word.

9. Get the weather quickly
Just type the word weather into the search bar and you will be given weather information. If you give Google permission to use your location, you will be given weather for your location. Enter the word weather followed by a city and state and you will be give weather information for that city.

10. Track UPS and FedEx packages
Just paste your tracking number in the search box and Google will give you a link where you can easily track your package. There is no need to go to the UPS or FedEx website.

Think before you search and try a few new things. Google also has a lot of help in their online Google Guide at www.googleguide.com/index.html. And many of these tips work for other search engines, as well.