Where to begin?
One of the first skills you need to learn in this technological age is the ability to use an online search engine. If you are looking for a foundational understanding of how to “look things up” on the internet you are in the right place!
Just so you know, this article focuses on looking things up on the internet through your computer. If you want to use your phone or tablet it will be a little different. However, even then, this article will likely be of some help
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Google – The taxi-phonebook of the internet!
A good place to start is Google. Picture a wide sprawling city, like Los Angeles. If each of the houses and businesses represent websites, then Google is a service like a phonebook and a taxi service rolled into one. It gives you information about what businesses are out there, and where they are located. It also provides you with the means of transport to get you there! That is what it means to say that Google is a “search engine.” There are others, like Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. However, Google is quite user-friendly, and so a great place to start!
Links – The roadways of the Internet!
Now, just as each house and business in this “city” of the internet has an address, in the same way, every website on the internet has an address known as a “URL” (which stands for “Uniform Resource Locator,” though nobody really uses the full name). And the way that Google helps taxi you from one address to another is through “links.” A link transports you from one website to another, kind of like a road. Links come in all different forms.
Before you try following a link to it’s destination, it is good to know how to get back! You should see a couple of arrows in your browser. On my browser, Safari, they look like this:
In other browsers it could look different, but the idea is the same. If you ever want to take a “u-turn” on the roads of the internet, and return to a page you recently left, just click the back arrow like the one in the picture above.
Types of links
The most basic links are simply text that spell out the whole URL “address” to which they transport you. An example of that is this link here:
This link takes you to Google, the search engine we mentioned. You can click on it (or tap on it if you are using your phone). You might have noticed, a link is very often underlined, colored blue, and your mouse changes into a hand shape when hovering over it. After clicking on a link it should turn purple, as a reminder that you have already gone down that path.
Other links do not show the full URL “address” and appear as regular underlined words. Here is an example:
For this type of link, the words you click on need not resemble the address of the website they connect you to. However, they usually give you some indication of where the link goes.
And now, the final main form a link may take is that of an image. A good example of this is found on almost every website. If you click on a website’s picture-logo, you will almost always be linked to the website’s homepage. Here’s an example of this:
If you click this logo, it will take you to our homepage. Try it out if you want! Remember you can always press the back arrow on your browser if you want to return from where a link takes you!
How to Google!
To open Google, you can click on this link, which will open google in a new window, or you can type “google.com” in a new window that you create yourself.
Once there, you should see something like this:
Sometimes the word “Google” is written in a different, fun and creative way because they are highlighting an event or person related to the current day. But the service that Google provides, as a taxi-phonebook, remains the same. Here is an example of this:
If you open Google on a day when a person or event is being remembered, clicking on that picture in the middle will open up a list of websites with information about the event or person in question.
Let’s search something!
So now that we are oriented, let’s search something on the internet! Click on that blank box with the magnifying glass and you can type anything you want.
If anyone has used google on your computer in the past, before you start typing, a list will pop up which shows some of your past searches. To re-search one of those past searches, feel free to click on it.
However, we will start a new search in our example. Let us search “kittens,” since cats are beloved by many people on the internet. Both to “aw” over and also to be entertained by. Some would call cats the “superstars of the internet.”
As you type, a popdown list appears, which shows Google’s guesses as to what you are trying to search for.
If one of those options is right for you, simply click on it and Google will act as if you had typed it all in yourself and pressed the “return” key on your keyboard to start the search.
If none of the popdown options interest you, stick with what you already typed. Press the “return” key, and Google will start a search related to your typed word or phrase. This means that Google will give you a list of websites related to what you typed. In our case, it will give websites related to kittens! The following photo shows what this looks like:
Now that is a lot to take in! There are so many things thrown in your face at the same time. So let’s look at them one at a time.
The search bar
You will notice that the search bar, which once took up the middle of the screen is now on the top left. Don’t worry, its location has changed but its function remains the same. If you want to change your search or look up something altogether different, you can type it into this area.
Now right below the search box there are a set of filters you can apply to the search results. For example, if you only want images of kittens, select the “Images” button. If you are looking for videos of kittens select the “videos” button, etc. The different filters are circled blue in the picture below.
For now, let’s keep it on the “All” selection and look at the other elements on the screen.
Now if the thing you searched for (in our case, “kittens”) has an encyclopedia article written about it, you should notice that article on the right hand side of your screen. This article comes from the online encyclopedia named “Wikipedia.” This is just an excerpt of the article. If you want to read the whole thing, click on the link called “Wikipedia” at the end of the paragraph.
Locations on the map
If you look at the left hand side of the page you may see a map with a list of a few locations (as circled in the picture below). This is google showing you a list of places in your area that have to do with the thing you searched. In our case, it found an animal shelter and two pet stores that have kittens.
This map section sometimes is not visible right away. Instead, you may have to scroll down the page a little bit before you see it.
Let’s pause for a recap
Congratulations! You now know what is happening on this page! Here’s an image with notes in blue that show what each part of the page is for. Hopefully they each make sense now.
There is more?
This may seem like a lot of information about kittens already, but there is even more! If you scroll down, you will see even more handy things that Google finds on the internet related to your search.
After scrolling you may see something like this:
Let’s look at each part of this page now.
There is now a videos section. This is Google showing you the first few videos most relevant to what you searched. If you want to see one, simply click on the title of the video, or the circle in the middle of the photo. These are link “roads” that will take you straight to the video.
Depending on your topic, this section may show up higher up or lower down than where it is on my example. For instance, if you had searched “driving tutorial,” then videos might have shown up at the top, since the videos are most relevant to your search.
Videos: A closer look
Let’s look more closely at one of these suggested videos and see what information Google is giving us about it.
Length of the video
That dark box with the numbers in it shows how long the video is. In this example, it is 6 min and 10 sec long.
The picture here is called the video “thumbnail” and is meant to give you an idea of what the video will look like.
Also, if you hold your mouse over the thumbnail but do not click, it will play a short clip of the video as a preview.
How to watch the video
There are two ways to select the video and watch it. You can either click on the white circle with the triangle in it, or you can click on the title of the video.
The title of the video is the text in blue which appears right below the thumbnail. The video title also works as a link which takes you to see the video.
See more suggested videos
Clicking on the circle with the arrow brings up more suggested videos based on your search (in this case, kittens).
Author of the video
The grey lettering near the bottom shows the name of the person or organization that put the video on the internet.
The date at the bottom is the date the video was added to the internet.
The black lettering at the very bottom show what website has the video on it. In this case, that website is called “YouTube.”
Scroll down again
Below the video section in my example, there is another link to the encyclopedia article related to my search. We already talked about that article before, so let’s move on further down and see what else Google has in store for us.
You may see something like this:
People also ask…
Now Google has a box which says, “People also ask” with a few questions listed below it. If you click on one of these, an answer to the question will pop up. Also, a few more related questions will show up at the end of the list!
Here’s an example. If I click on “Why are kitten’s so cute?” here is what happens:
As you see, when I clicked on the question “Why are kittens so cute?” an answer came up. This is an answer that Google found on the internet. Google doesn’t necessarily know if the answer is correct or not. Google just shows the answer that people have found most satisfying in the past.
Now, let’s take a look at all the different elements of what we see here:
List of questions
These are different questions Google often gets related to your search.
When you click on a question, a little section opens up which answers the question.
A short paragraph is shown which is related to answering your question. To see the full answer, go to the article where the question is being answered.
The text to the right of the | divider, is the title of the website containing the article.
The blue text to the left of the | divider, shows the title of the relevant article. This title acts as a link which will take you to the full article.
At the bottom of the list, two more questions appeared! If you ever click on a question, a few more related questions will appear at the bottom of the list.
Down we scroll again…
So far Google has shown us information and links in a lot of helpful ways. But we still have yet to see one of the most helpful! Scrolling down further, we see to this:
Ok, I know it doesn’t look too exciting, but it really is a vital service that Google provides. Here we have a list of a few different websites. This is Google’s primary service. Google gives a list of almost every website in the whole internet that is related to your search criteria in any way!
At the top of this list of websites are the entries that Google deems most relevant for your search.
Now let’s take a closer look at the information that Google gives us about each website in the list…
The list of websites
Article or Page Title
This is the title of the Article or page or website that Google has decided to add to this list. If you click on the title, it will link you to that website.
Location of the page on the internet*
This is the general location of the page. It is like the “City” part of an address. It gives you a general idea about location, without telling you the specific street an building number.
This start to a paragraph is meant to give you an idea about what the website contains and how it is relevant to your search.
You may notice the grey words listed after the general website address in the image above. Each word is sepparated by a “>” arrow. These are there to show you the path you need to take to get from the website’s homescreen to reach the article that is being shown.
For example, if you were to go to “pets.webmd.com,” and from there you clicked on the “Healthy Cats” section, and from there you decided to view the “Slideshows,” that is where you would find the first webpage on this list called “Taking Care of Kitten.” (Or, instead of going through all of that, you could just click on the page name that Google gives you and be linked directly to the page)
Finally, the bottom of the page
And now we reach the bottom of the page. You think we would be done, but there is yet a little more to explain!
Here is what the bottom of the page looks like:
“People also searched for”
This section shows related searches that other people have made which may be helpful. Just click on an option and Google will automatically search for that instead.
“Searches related to kitten”
This section shows other searches that are related to yours. Just click on one to search for that instead.
Goooooooooogle navigation area
And finally there is the long stretched out “Google” at the bottom. This is Google’s creative way to help you navigate the practically endless pages of search results it brings up.
The “G” and “Previous” buttons
In my example, we are on the first page of search results. However, if we were on any other page of the search results, there would be the word “previous” and a “<” arrow next to the “G.” If you were to click on any of them they would take you back one page.
In the middle there are a string of “o”s with numbers under them. There represent a selection of pages of search results. If you click on an “o” or the number below it, you will be linked to the search results page of that number.
The “gle” and “next” buttons
If you click on the “gle” or the “next” or the “>” buttons they all do the same thing. They take you to the next page of search results.
Congratulations! You have finished this tutorial article!
That was a lot of information! If you ever forget part of what you have learned here today, don’t hesitate to come back and read over this article again! I hope it was all explained clearly enough. If you have any questions or comments related to the contents of this page, feel free to write something in the “submit a comment” section down below!
Wishing you the best as you continue learning about technology!
A Google search is just grazing the surface of what Google.com can do for you. Google can calculate almost anything for you, graph complex functions, translate languages, convert units and do many more things too!
For a handy list of many of the incredible things you can ask Google to do, here is a great article from Zapier.com: https://zapier.com/blog/advanced-google-search-tricks/