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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you wanted to know about Google, August 13, 2006
This review is from: Google: The Missing Manual (Paperback)
The problem with Google is that it does not seem to advertise all of its tools, or for that matter, all the functions within their tools. For instance, did you know that you could search for Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) with Google as see the auto history?

Google: The Missing Manual provides an essential source that brings together all the tools and hidden functions in the tools and puts it into an easy-to-read volume. The book is separated into four main components: searches with Google, general Google tools, Google tools specific to webmasters, and Gmail.

Google searching is the best-known tool that Google offers. It is the most popular web search on the Internet also. However, many of its functions are not as widely known, as they ought to be. This book goes through all the different items besides web pages that can be searched for (phone numbers, UPC codes, tracking numbers, and so on) and then goes into the search syntax. It presents search tools individually in easy-to-digest chunks to make it accessible to even the novice user.

The general Google tools include some of the newest Google tools such as Google Maps, Google Desktop and Google Print. The book goes through these point-by-point to give the reader a solid grasp on the latest tools available. It even includes a chapter on how to shop with Google and integrated Google with your web browser.

There are two tools, in specific, that have been to some measure controversial, Google Desktop and Google Search History. Google Desktop allows you to Google search the files on your computer for words and phrases. Google Desktop has to be explicitly installed and set up, but Google makes it clear (and the book re-emphasizes) that no data from your PC is sent to Google. Google Search History allows you to view previously executed searches (if you have a Google account and are logged in). Some are less than comfortable with the prospect of having all web searches archived, however, there are instructions in the book to delete the data and the service.

Third, the book goes through how to use Google to get the most out of your website. It talks about the rudimentary tasks of getting listed in Google searches and how to use AdSense and AdWords, which is invaluable information for the uninitiated. However, the most interesting chapter is on a tool not yet publicly available (you have to request an account and they grant them on a slow but ongoing basis), Google Analytics. Google Analytics harnesses the power of Google to get the most data and statistics out of your website visitors. It helps you know what keywords work, what your visitors are interested in, and what pages are or are not popular. After reading this section you'll unfortunately have to curb your enthusiasm because you'll have to wait in line like everyone else after you sign up.

Lastly, the book goes through all the power and functions of Google Mail. As a relatively new service, Gmail keeps adding functions for the user. This book has the most up-to-date information on how the manage mailboxes; work with the contact list, and setting up keyboard shortcuts. Unfortunately with the speed of Gmail development some functions like Google Talk integration are missed by the time the book hit the shelves.

All in all, the book is a solid resource for anyone trying to get the most out of Google and harness that many powerful tools Google brings to bear.
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Location: Champaign, IL

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