Google's corporate mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." They've gone a long way toward that goal. But to take full advantage of their achievements, you need the technical knowledge in this book.
Chapter 1's "hacks" take you as far as you can go without coding. You'll master Google's special search syntax; then discover Google's many "specialty searches" (phone number lookups, stock prices, and so forth). Along the way, the authors unearth some cool web tools: for instance, one that visualizes the relationships amongst your results.
Now you're ready for real power: programmatic control over Google. Most of the authors' programs are written in Perl, but you'll find some Python, PHP, Java, and .NET code, too. Most use Google's powerful API, but there's some classic spidering and screen scraping, too. (FYI, if you find spidering useful, check out O'Reilly's Spidering Hacks, too.)
So, what can you do with Google Hacks' techniques? You can calculate the "mindshare" of your company in your industry. Make sure none of your site links have recently gone X-rated. Create searches limited to U.S. government documents. Use geotargeting to spot emerging trends. Build newsfeeds that automate recurring searches. Convert Google Video into AVIs you can actually use. Uncover every blog comment linked to any page. Find lyrics to whatever you're playing in iTunes. And create all manner of Google Maps mashups that weren't even possible when this book's last edition was written.
Google Hacks wraps up with tips for webmasters: everything from improving your positioning in Google searches to visualizing your site's traffic with Google Analytics. Bottom line: This book puts you in control the world's information -- and, in the information age, what could be more important? Bill Camarda, from the November 2006 Read Only