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Google search: Using quotes != finding that phrase on a page

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

Friday, November 21, 2008
12 years ago6,018 views

Using quotes in Google doesn't find exact phrases only anymore... (neither does just starting the phrase with quotes: blogoscoped.com/archive/2005-1 ...)

Google now includes in their algo anchor text phrasing: "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page:" types in the SERPS

What a bummer! When did that happen? Is that new? – If not, I guess it took me a while to notice. Maybe it's always been that way I'm not sure.

Being able to find exact phrases on websites was the most powerful use of Google

Especially when your constantly stuck on some programming issue :)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Rich, do you not mean this:

<< No results found for ["phrase"].

Results for [phrase]. (without quotes): >>

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Example: search "widget movie" :

google.com/search?complete=1&a ...

First two results have no mention – most of the others have punctuation in between the words.

Is there an option for maybe more tight double quoting the term:
""widget movie""

   – nope, double quotes like that are the same as using no quotes at all :)

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Thanks Tony but no – I think that feature is wonderful.. I just mean – boolean expressions from back in the day – didn't a google search with quotes mean find only exactly what's within the quotes? It appears that isn't the case with Google results anymore – I just noticed it today

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Try
intext:"widget movie"
or
intext:"widget movie" OR intitle:"widget movie"

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

nope – first result for intext:"widget movie" has no occurrence of "widget movie" on it's webpage

I just want to find pages with the exact phrase "widget movie"

:)

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

intitle tightens it up forsure but still doesn't limit the SERPs to only having that phrase on the page..

widget movie isn't a good enough example..

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Here is what I get (California, US, FF 3.04)


speculativebubble.com/images/i ...



Notice the first result from apple.com has no mention of "widget movie" on the page...

I've got to find a better example...

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Hey where did your last post go...

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

My point is -

Surrounding a query in quotes used to give you a page using that exact phrase.

as this example played out..

(guessing) apple has a bunch of links to it with the anchor text "widget"

(guessing) and a bunch of links pointing to it with the anchor "movie"

so google serves me an apple mac whatever page as the first result where there is no mention on it of what I'm looking for.

a page that's not relevant -that's why I used the quotes

I though the whole point of using quotes in your query was to bypass that type of algo thinking.

"widget movie" is a crummy example but it still might have proved to be good enough to illustrate my point.

:)

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I deleted that post because I realized that one of the results didn't include the query (it wasn't the first result). Technically, intext:, allintext:, intitle:, allintitle: should restrict the results to pages that include the query in the body/title of the page, but they don't always work correctly.

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

So whatever happened to the simple "find this exact phrase"

It reminds me of the shift that happened when typing in "xerox ink cartridge" and yahoo would still list xerox.com forcing you to drill through their site. Then Inktomi / altavista etc. started listing specific pages like xerox.com/ink/cartridges and that got you so much closer. Is Google moving backwards from that method? Finding the specific page instead of the domain name is what made them good

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Rich, you're right. Using the double quotes should really restrict your search results to pages with that exact phrase in the text.

This reminds me of how Google recently changed the behavior for using punctuation (i.e. periods / full stops) between words:

blogoscoped.com/archive/2008-1 ...

Perhaps this is another case of Googlers deciding to change how queries can be handled to try and improve results.

Rich Hodge [PersonRank 6]

12 years ago #

Thanks Tony and Ionut

It's another Google subtle syntax change that improves the results for the majority.

Good for them (dang that sounded sarcastic but it really wasn't..)

:)

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Seriously, how can this be good for anyone... I recently got such a result, but thought it was due to the page being recently updated and the cache of google not being the same old as the version google searches in... a serious pity this is...

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Rich: This behaviour is not new. I'm sure it has been this way for at least three years.

You search for something like "widget movie", and find a result which doesn't include the phrase. So you click on the "Cached" link in Google's search result, and see the message "these terms only appear in links pointing to this page". If you can find the referring page, you will see that the phrase "widget movie" appears in the anchor text of the link (as opposed to the words widget and movie appearing separately in anchor links).

I just tested this. Searching for [allinanchor: "widget movie"] gives 19,900 results and searching for [allinanchor: widget movie] gives over 6 million results.

As Ionut says, "allintext:" should work to stop Google from looking at anchor text. I can't check it now though, because Google thinks I'm an automated request from a computer virus or spyware application. Too many people searching for "widget movie", I guess.

The message about "terms only appear in links pointing to this page" doesn't have anything to do with phrases in quotes, by the way. It can also be displayed after a search for a single word.

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Effing confusing it all is. So what has Matt Cutts to say this time in his employer's defense.... another lame attempt at stonewalling the issue ("looking at improving queries") of ?WHAT? NOW *IS* THE PROSCRIBED, [GOOGLE-SYNTACTICALLY-]CORRECT WAY TO SEARCH FOR A SPECIFIC PHRASE?

Cut from Matt Cutts « [...] 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 [foo.bar]. »
blogoscoped.com/archive/2008-1 ...

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