The first program I open every day is Firefox, and most days the first Web site I visit is Google. That's why I'm glad so many Firefox add-on developers have created tools that give me a new perspective on my Google search results. Here are three of my favorites.
Sharpen your searches with GoogleEnhancer
The primary reason I click Google's Advanced Search option is to limit the results to a specific date range. With NettiCat's GoogleEnhancer add-on I can narrow my searches by date as well as by file type and a handful of languages via drop-down menus that are placed to the right of the search box.
As nice as the search enhancements are, one of my favorite GoogleEnhancer features is the addition of icons to the left of the results for each link's site. The add-on also numbers the results, though these don't really add much to the results, in my opinion.
Add Wikipedia entries to Google's results page
The people's encyclopedia takes a lot of heat for the unevenness and unreliability of some of its entries. But in my day job as a technical editor, I frequently use the site for background on topics I'm not familiar with--and there's no shortage of those.
I save myself a lot of time when I enable James Hall's Googlepedia add-on that opens the relevant Wikipedia entry for each Google search term I enter in the right half of the screen. I usually don't miss the screen space, but clearing room for more results is as easy as clicking the Hide button on the right side of the Wikipedia entry.
The add-on also lets you expand the entry to the full search window or open the original Wikipedia entry. You can call Googlepedia a one-trick pony, but the program sure has that one trick down pat.
Clouds gather atop your Google results
Plenty of search services give you an indication of the popularity of subtopics by showing them in a cloud pattern: the bigger the word, the more results with that term. INTSPEI's Search Cloudlet puts this type of text cloud above your search results on Google, Yahoo, and Twitter.
The cloud pushes your search results lower in the browser window, but the upside of the increased scrolling is a surprising perspective on your search. The terms in the cloud often lead to useful information I may not have found otherwise.
Even if you consider yourself a Web search expert, these helpers can lead you places you may never have found without them.