Three tips to improve your Google searches:
* Use the Google Advanced Search page -- read it!
They even have a Tips link to help you use the special features better link
Here are a few favorites:
Search Symbols: Put them right before your term, with no space between
+ Requires a term. This is helpful if you are searching for a phrase that includes a common word that Google would otherwise knock out of your search: At Will
- But not the term following: RICO -Puerto (searches for web pages about the Racketeering statute and excludes webpages about Puerto Rico)
~ Synonym. Put this little tilde in front and Google will search the word you type PLUS synonyms.
Hyphenate your term to get all spellings: co-operation (will retrieve web pages with co-operation, cooperation and the little umlaut over the second o)
.. Number Range. Put those two little dots between a range of dates, dollars, ages, or whatever.
OR Capitalize the search term to use like a "terms and connectors" Boolean logic search
"" Put quotes around your phrase to make Google find just those words with nothing else.
filetype: or ext: You can restrict the returns to pdf pages, for instance, or html
link: Type this right next to the URL you want to find out about, and locate all the pages that link to it.
Define: Put the word you need defined right next to the colon and find pages that explain the meaning.
Movie: Put the name or phrase you want to search right next to the colon to locate web pages discussing the movie, and skip the pages with that phrase in another context.
phonebook: Gets white pages listings in the U.S.
rphonebook: residential phone listings only, in the U.S.
weather Add the city or zipcode to find websites that cover the weather for your location.
* Use Google Help link
This link page takes you 'way beyond simple help with your searches (though there's lots of that, too). Includes Creating, Organizing and Sharing your stuff, for instance. Help links you to Google Scholar, Froogle (it's still there), Google Book, Google Earth, and lots more.
Search for Google Hacks
Link 1 Douwe Osinga includes a fantastic list of things you didn't know Google could do: translate poetry (I don't know how well, though), find the best time to visit locations, Google News Map, and lots more.
Book link This links to the book of that title, by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest. You can buy the book here, but the site includes some sample "industrial strength hacks." Included are "Getting around the 10 word limit."