Google question re. phrase search

Firstly, I did search (SDMB, that is) but didn’t find.

Bascially, as far as I know, Google should allow phrase searching if the relevant terms are enclosed by quotation marks. However, it seems to produce some results that meet the requrements, and a lot that don’t; i.e. a lot that include both terms, but not together.

I have a horrible feeling that I’m missing something very obvious, but if I don’t ask this question here, then I’m doomed to a future of unsatisfactory Google searches. So, is there someone who can enlighten me please?

Each word in quotation marks with “and” between the words should do it - sorry if that’s what you said you were doing already. Example - “thy” and “will” and “be” and “done”. You’re absolutely right about getting other stuff too, but this way usually sorts it out and puts the exact match first. Actually now that I think about it, I should not be giving advice on anything to do with computers. Just try it and if it doesn’t help, chalk it up to some stupid-ass Google-impaired girl.

WAG: since Google indexes pages not only according to what’s in the page, but also by what’s in pages that refer to the page, you may be getting hits on pages that are referred to by other pages using the phrase you typed.

I’ve noticed this too, and it’s quite annoying. I tried searching for “what an ass am I”, and the first page of hits or so had nothing to do with Hamlet.
Google put up a small notice on the results page that “what an I” were common words and it didn’t bother searching on them. bah. I use for phrase specific searches now.

Even using the advanced search “exact phrase” option, it doesn’t work. However, I just read the advanced search tips page, and if you put a + before each of the common words, it will force google to include them.

Hmmm… Perhaps you could provide a sample Google search string that gives these results.

Some guesses:

  • Maybe you’re noticing the individual words in the document when in fact the phrase is hidden in there somewhere.
  • Maybe you’re reaching pages that have changed (unlikely to happen enough in just the right way, though.)
  • Maybe you’re using single quotation marks instead of double.

Although you’ve probably been there, you can check out Google’s phrase searching help.

As TheNerd pointed out, you do have to watch the top of the results page to make sure Google didn’t throw out common words, but if it does, the plus sign thing corrects this rare effect, and all the results will contain the entire phrase.

Oh yeah, don’t use Booleans like and, or, etc. Google automatically requires every search phrase.


Yesterday I was searching for “love is in the air”. This returned pages with love and/or air. I was trying to find out who was singing it in the toyota camry commercial.

I did some digging through the search tips and found that you have to put a + sign in front of common words (stop words) in order to include them and not mess up the search (even if they’re in quotes).

A subsequent search of “love +is +in +the air” (with the quotes) returned 2 pages with that exact phrase.

Just go to Google’s Advanced Search and type the phrase in the “Exact Phrase” box.

Many thanks to all of you, and I can’t address you individually because I want this posted before I get timed out again. (Free but temperamental ISP, as well as the fun of the SDMB server)

Actually, it’s absolutely not a problem about stop words - I’m always aware of that potential, so that never trips me up. (Really) And when I’ve checked, I haven’t found (on randomly chosen samples of the unsatisfactory search) that the actual phrase did occur somewhere else in the document. And I do use double quotation marks. And as far as I can see*, I do what Google advanced help tells me to do. (*New glasses from optician next week, of course. :slight_smile: )

All the same, it looks as thought throwing AND or + into the mix might help make it better, as one or two people have said that. I know that will force it to accept stop words, but if it helps in this type of thing too, that’s fine.

So, grateful thanks again, and I think that later I might have a game of getting Google sussed out.