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Tuesday
Nov152011

Google Verbatim Shows Why Search Used to Suck

Google is rolling out a Verbatim search tool that gives users a more deliberate way of telling Google what to search for by taking its algorithm out of the equation.

Using the Verbatim tool, Google won't make normal improvements such as automatic spelling corrections, personalization of search by using information from sites previously visited, including synonyms of your search terms in the results, making some terms optional and more.

For instance, normal search automatically corrects "Mu'ammar al-Qadaffi" to "Muammar al-Qaddafi," matches "pictures" to "photos," makes certain words optional and more. In the case of "Mu'ammar al-Qadaffi," placing quotes around the search term don't make a difference in the search results.

On the other hand, when it comes to searching for Lynyrd Skynyrd -- one of the most commonly misspelled band names -- it's probably a good thing that Google corrects your spelling both with and without quotes. 

"While using quotation marks disables features such as spelling corrections and synonyms, it still leaves on other improvements such as personalization," a Google spokesperson tells LAUNCH via email. "The verbatim tool is also an easier option for users who know exactly what they want to search for."

To access the tool, click "More search tools" on the left-hand side of Google Search.

"In most cases, Google’s algorithms make things better for our users - but in some rare cases, we don’t find what you were looking for," Google Principle Engineer of Search Corin Anderson writes on the Google blog. "In the past, we provided users with the “+” operator to help you search for specific terms... A couple of weeks ago we removed the “+” operator, encouraging the use of the double quotes, which are more likely to be used correctly."

However, the "+" operator still works to access brand pages on Google+. If you search +Pepsi, Google will immediately take you to Pepsi's Google+ page.

"...
we’re also applying similar ideas directly to our algorithms, such as tuning the accuracy of when our query broadening search improvements trigger," Corin writes. "In the meantime, if you want to search for a very specific term, be that [carosel] or the [etymology of sissors], give the verbatim tool a try."

In September, Google improved its search results with truly instant previews. 


SCREEN SHOTS


While the Arabic spelling is "Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi," Google instead shows results that omit the apostrophe.


Adding quotes makes no difference, as Google will still initially show the same results without the apostrophe.


When you type in a misspelling of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Google tailors its search results to show you sites with the correct spelling. 
 

Even if you're determined to search for the incorrect spelling of Lynyrd Skynyrd and place quotes around the term, Google will still show you results for the correct spelling.