Arer there any old fashioned search engines left?

Once upon a time, if you put a phrase in quotes (e.g. “abc xyz”), search engines would only find hits where the words appeared exactly as typed (modulo non-alphanumeric characters being treated as whitespace). In other words, they wouldn’t find hits where “abc” and “xyz” appeared on the same page but not adjacent. If you wanted that, you would have to type +abc +xyz. This was not perfect (the non-alphanumeric bit) but I could live with it.

But then they “improved” the engines. Now if you type “abc xyz”, it’s the same search as if you typed +abc +xyz. I first noticed this on Google, then Yahoo and now AltaVista. Also NorthernLight is that way.

The problem is, there are times (in fact, usually) where I want to find the exact phrase but don’t want all those other hits. So does anyone know of any search engines that are not “improved”? Or some way to make the “improved” search engines not give me the results I don’t want?

Huh? Google’s quotation search works for me. Can you give me an example of where it doesn’t work? That might be helpful. has a pulldown “search for” option on the left that lets you specify “the exact phrase”.

There was this recent thread about the same question on Google.

I too have noticed Google behaving that way a lot. Gogle sometimes does phrases and sometimes not–that’s why it’s so confusing. Yahoo doesn’t take phrases at all. I was very dismayed to see AltaVista’s recent change in behavior, because that was the one I’d always relied on for specific phrase searches.

HotBot also has the drop-down (not “pull-down”) menu that does “the exact phrase.”

Normally a Google user, I use if I want to specify a search to be “all words”, “any words”, or “exact phrase”. There are several other options as well. You don’t need to use punctuation, just select your option from a drop-down menu.

It’s promoted as an Australian / New Zealand search engine, but just click on “search entire world” to change that. Also, you might find it’s one of the faster engines during US / European peak load times.

Wait, I think I know what happened.

If you search for “green eggs and ham” it will search for a page with green, eggs, ham in it. It does this because and is a common word and Google, in all it’s wisdom, decided it doesn’t want to waste it’s time searching for common words.
To fix that, add a + to common words. So, in the above example, you would use “green eggs +and ham”

No, it’s not the fact that it ignores common words. Most recently, I wanted a phrase with two main words separated by “of”. AltaVista found several hundred hits that had both the main words separated by lots of other text, but none that had the phrase I was interested in. I wasted some time verifying that fact (and getting upset at AV).

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions of other engines.

Infoseek used to be the best, becuase it gave you a lot of extra choices, like “find in url’s only” or “find in page titles only”

But they’ve been this week bought out and killed off by

Now I have to use this
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Try, it has more flexibility in search options.

I was just chatting on Usenet about the old WAIS search system, and complaining that it’s superior search functions would be perfect for Google to use on their new Dejanews archives. I just happened to mention it to someone who is working with Google on their search engine. He said it was a great idea but AOL owns WAIS so he couldn’t promise anything. Maybe they’ll reverse engineer it. WAIS would be perfect for searching usenet archives.

This is also my search engine of choice, but I believe the link above gets you to their simple search page.

I use their advanced search, which has the “exact phrase” option and also gives you the ability to add “should include” or “must include” additional words. You can also filter out pages written in languages other than English if you like.

Here’s the link to that page: