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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Small Change to Google Phrase Search Syntax

Ianf in the forum noticed that a Google search for

is not the same anymore as a search for

"foo bar"

In other words, it used to be that you could use punctuation between words instead of quote characters outside the phrase to trigger phrase search results. I often used dashes, as in foo-bar. Ianf writes, “Apparently it is no more, only I only realized it just now.” (Not sure how new this is; also note you will still often get very similar results.)

I asked Google and Matt Cutts about this and here’s Matt’s explanation:

I huddled with some search folks here at Google. The short answer is that as part of looking at improving queries, we decided to change how queries with punctuation can be handled. If you want a phrase search, I would go with ["foo bar"] instead of []. Likewise, something that the outside world hasn’t appeared to notice is that [foo | bar] can be handled differently than [foo|bar], where the ’|’ character means ’OR’. If you want an OR query, I would do queries using [A | B | C] rather than [A|B|C].

[Thanks Ianf, Roger Browne and Matt!]


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