How to become a power user of Google

How to become a power user of Google

I spotted this infographic today and thought I’d share it with you.  There’s a lot more to Google than just typing what you are looking for into the search box. This infographic is worth studying for a few minutes to get an insight into what’s possible. This is also worth printing out as a useful Google Cheat Sheet.

How to use Google


Teachers might want to print this out and use as a lesson when teaching about searching on the web.  If you have a great Google tip that’s not covered by this inforgraphic I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Google Web Master Tools site verification with

If you run a website you should register for Google Web Master Tools (GWT) because they provide a wealth of useful statistics and diagnostic information that you can use to improve your site.  Anyway when you register with GWT you have various options for verifying your ownership of the your website.  My preferred option is to add a special DNS entry against the domain name.  I like this approach because its much less likely to be undone by a software update or someone tidying up files on your website.   The GWT verification screen gives you all the options and if you select DNS then asks you which registration company is responsible for your DNS records, they then talk you through step by step you to enter the special DNS record.  For various reasons I mainly use for registrations and DNS and Google didn’t provide a walkthrough for this company so I had to select Other from the list and then workout what was needed.   Incase you also need to verify ownership of a site for Google Webmaster Tools using the steps involved are:

  1. In GWT select verify ownership, DNS and then Other
  2. They will now give you a unique string which will look something like “google-site-verification=tfUN8-Fj_jy6n2c76IZXXXXXxwpdqEmHsRLXXXXEvE”, highlight this and copy it to your clipboard.
  3. Login to your 123-Reg account
  4. Select the domain name you want to verify ownership of
  5. Under the advanced domain settings select Manage DNS (A, MX, CNAME, TXT)
  6. Scroll down the page until you get to Add New Entry
  7. You should now see 3 input fields
  8. in the first field enter an @ sign
  9. in the middle field select TXT from the dropdown list
  10. in the third field paste in the id string Google provided
  11. Scroll down a little further and click on Update DNS
  12. Wait a few minutes for the DNS change to propagate
  13. Go back into GWT and now click the Verify Now Button – if this does not work give it a little longer for the DNS changes to propagate.  It can take up to 24 hours but its usually much faster these days.
  14. If it still does not work exit 123-Reg and then go back in and make sure it saved your changes.  I’ve occasionally found that changes fail to commit the first time.


Finally the health warning, if you don’t understand DNS entries then be warned that making DNS mistakes can easily knock out your website, so if you’re not certain what you are doing get someone else to do it for you.


Google Fast Flip

Google has launched their new, News Reader called Fast Flip. This presents the news stories from the section as a series of images which you can quickly flip through using the left and right next / previous page buttons.  This means that you can flick through all the news stories to see what you are interested in, whereas normally you just see the headline and might click on the link.  The service only shows the first page of a story and there is a button to take you to the full story.  The service is also available on the Android mobile platform where the touch interface allows you to quickly flip from one story to another.

Google Service Status Page – A great example of best practice.

Following the brief outage of gMail on September 1st I was reminded that Google publish a status page or dashboard showing the status of all their services.  You can find this service at  I mention this because it’s an excellent example of providing visibility and therefore accountability about the services you are providing which is essential if you’re being paid to provide a service.  If you’re responsible for providing various IT services to your business or customers then you really need to consider how you can create this type of service dashboard or status page.

If you’re involved in providing online services then you need to have formally agreed service up-time levels and planned maintenance times.  When agreeing up-time SLA’s you need to get people to understand the cost of moving from 98% to 99%, to 99.99% to 99.999% (five nines) up-time.  Have a think about it, the level of engineering needed to deliver 99% is quite different to 99.999%.

Availabilityper dayper monthper year

If you commit to 99.999% up-time, you’re allowed 5 minutes a year, that’s not enough time to do anything so you need to your application to be running on a distributed system over two or more sites with instant fail over and probably load balanced workload.   In contrast 99% up time allows you 87 minutes of downtime which means that you can stick with simpler technologies like RAID and mirrored servers.

Let me know what you think and how you approach up-time SLA’s.