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Google Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596004477
ISBN-10: 0596004478
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Everyone loves Google, and it's the first place many people turn to locate information on the Internet. There's a big gap, though, between knowing that you can use Google to get advance information on your blind date and having a handle on the considerable roster of fact-finding tools that the site makes available. Google Hacks reveals--and documents in considerable detail--a large collection of Google capabilities that many readers won't have even been aware of. Want to find the best price on a pair of leg warmers? Try the Froogle price-searcher that's hidden within the Google site. Interested in finding weblog commentary about a particular subject? Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest call your attention to the special Google syntaxes for that purpose. This book makes it clear that there's lots more to the Google site than typing in a few keywords and trusting the search engine to yield useful results.

If you're a programmer--or even just familiar with a HTML or a scripting language--Google opens up even further. A large part of Google Hacks concerns itself with the Google API (the collection of capabilities that Google exposes for use by software) and other programmers' resources. For example, the authors include a simple Perl application that queries the Google engine with terms specified by the user. They also document XooMLe, which delivers Google results in XML form. In brief, this is the best compendium of Google's lesser-known capabilities available anywhere, including the Google site itself. --David Wall

Topics covered: How to get the most from the Google search engine by using its Web-accessible features (including product searches, image searches, news searches, and newsgroup searches) and the large collection of desktop-resident toolbars available, as well as its advanced search syntax. Other sections have to do with programming with the Google API and simple "scrapes" of results pages, while further coverage addresses how to get your Web page to feature prominently in Google keyword searches.


"All in all "Google Hacks" is a fun book to read through and to play with the examples to see what you get." Linux Magazine, September 2003 "In-dept details on getting the most from Google, including site optimisation and submission tips for Web developers." MacUser, December 12th 2003

Product Details

  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (February 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596004478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596004477
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,890,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Few of today's web-savvy would contest Google's superiority among search engines. Behind the austere and simple interface lies a wealth of information just waiting to be tapped. Until now however, tapping all that information and power would likely require scanning dozens of websites hunting down tips for making the most out of Google. Fortunately, Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest and their colleagues have done most of the legwork for us in O'Reilly's Google Hacks.
Google Hacks is another in O'Reilly's Hacks series, "Industrial Strength Tips and Tools". In this case, 100 recipes for just about every imaginable use for Google. O'Reilly uses the term 'hack' in a positive way, meaning a clever technical feat or trick, as opposed to the negative connotation associated with those blackhats who break into computer systems for fun and for profit. Each "hack" is a stand-alone recipe demonstrating some aspect of using Google to find just what you're looking for. Most hacks also contain cross-references to other relevant hacks in the book, so you really don't have to read it from cover to cover. You could start with whatever interests you, and go from there.
The book is divided into several chapters, each of which contains several hacks. The first few chapters are targeted at the general end-user, describing in detail all of the various syntaxes you can use when searching with Google, as well as introducing the various topical collections (U.S. government, Linux, Mac, etc.), and other tools (Google Groups, Google News, etc.,) available. The authors are careful to point out where the various syntax pieces are incompatible, and which syntax features are available with which services. Also covered are various tools you can use to (legally) 'scrape' Google search results for further analysis.
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Format: Paperback
First off, I have to admit: I fell in love with this book while looking at the description at ora.com before it was ever published. I'm a geek. I've used Google for years. I live and breathe this stuff. I know the high editorial and production quality that O'Reilly puts into their technical books. But the pre-publication descriptions left an open question for me: just how useful would this book be for normal people?
To those who know nothing about programming/scripting, fear not. About half of this book is stuff that anyone anywhere can use with no programming skills whatsoever. And if the hacks described in the other half of the book sound useful, sufficiently-motivated people will find a way to use them: talk to their technical friends, their children, or (heaven forbid!) teach themselves how to use Perl/Python/etc. And even that's kind of missing the point: the book is about giving you a taste of what is possible to do with Google. You will get an education simply by leafing through the examples.
How do the authors get so good? Clearly, they're smart folk. But they have a much more important quality: a sense of adventure and, at times, a giddy quality of fun in what they do. Chapter 7 -- Google Pranks and Games -- is as good a place to start reading this book as any. And a non-technical person who reads and tries the examples in Chapter 1 will have a far better working knowledge of google than 99.5% of the technical types out there. Finally, Chapter 8 is an excellent intro to webmasters to understand how google picks which pages rank higher for any particular search. It gives valuable advice on how to get a good rank for your website.
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Format: Paperback
Google Hacks is a fascinating book that catalogs pretty much anything you ever wanted to know about Google. But, the book really consists of two broad sections: One for searchers and researchers; and one for web developers.
While there is much to like about the book, there is also much to ignore. I think at times, the authors emulate the writing style of programming books too closely. That's a problem for all the non-technical people who likely bought the book. As it stands now, the book seems terribly unfocused. Still the authors do an admirable job of trying to tie everything together for their unique audiences.
As a developer, I found the "Google API hacks" to be useful, but the vast majority of the readers probably will not. And the programming tips take up almost half the book.
This is not the only reason I gave Google Hacks three stars. In addition to the problem with focus, the section for webmasters is laughable. Brett Tabke of WembasterWorld, a supposed search engine marketing expert, contributes several of the webmaster "hacks." His sections are perhaps the weakest parts of the book. He tries to explain how to make sure your site ranks highly in Google's search results, but his advice should be ignored.
He makes all sorts of proclamations that have no basis in reality; most of his tips are simply his own personal opinion masquerading as fact. It would be nice if he were to cite his sources, but unfortunately for us readers, he does not.
On the other hand, the guest section written by Andrew Goodman about Google AdWords tips is top-notch and reason enough for buying the book.
All in all, if you're remotely interested in Google, definitely buy this book. But be forewarned about the lackluster guest authors and lack of focus. Who knows? Maybe version two will be better. Keep in mind, also, that this is a book about the Web, so many of the tips contained in the book may be obsolete by the time you read it!
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