Saturday, January 22, 2005
Google Raises Word Limit to 32
greatly advances its web search by raising the word limit to 32 words. Previously, only up to 10 words were allowed. While some may never have wanted to cross the 10-word limit, it can be crucial to different tasks:
- When you automate search tasks using the Google API, you often find yourself hitting the 10-word limit.
- When you search for quotes from a text, you would hit the 10-word limit very fast.
- When you want to exclude a lot of words from a search because your result is not specific enough.
- Meta search engines (or an “uber” engine like FindForward) may take a user’s query and add their own “tuned” words in the background. This means when the tuning uses up 6 words, and the user entered 5 words, 1 tuned word was ignored.
- When you wanted to trace all synonyms Google knows for a word.
So far, there were some tricks to get around the limit, but none worked completely and all had their downsides:
- You could use the asterisk character within a quoted query. It would not count against the 10-word limit. A query like “this is * example” would only consist of 3 words counting against the limit.
- You could use the numrange operator to query many numbers at once, like 12..200. This also would not count against the limit.
- When looking for quotes, you could restrict yourself to more “exotic” passages which would contain less common words.
Now that Google gives us 32 words as native search feature, hacks like these will be a thing of the past. (Of course, you may still need them if you want to stretch your search to cover 33 words...)
Zmarties, who reported this news in the forum, says:
“This is great news – whilst the casual user [won’t] notice the difference, the power searcher was often hitting this limit. Now it’s possible to do much more targeted searches, using the - operator much more to exclude words you know are of no interest. There’s a whole bunch of other applications that benefit from raising the limit, and plenty of partial workarounds that are now redundant – a Google search shows many of them.”
Zmarties also points out that while the 32-word limit is used in the main Google search, Google Images, Froogle and the Google Web API, the 10-word limit still applies for Google Groups and Google News.
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