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November 16, 2011

Google Verbatim

Your query is just the starting point for Google's searches. Sometimes Google fixes misspellings, replaces some of the keywords with synonyms or other related keywords, disambiguates your query using your search history. These changes usually improve the quality of Google results because it's hard to come up with the perfect query and improving the query is the first thing you need to do to get better results.

Unfortunately, Google's adjustments aren't always helpful and this adds noise to the list of the search results. For example, I've noticed that Google matches many pages that mention "iPhone 4" when you search for [iPhone 4S] and that's a really big mistake. Having to use quotes every time you enter a query that includes "iPhone 4S" is annoying, but that's probably an issue that will be fixed when there are more pages that mention the name of Apple's latest phone.

Another way to improve Google's query adjustment algorithms is to use "Verbatim", a new feature from the search options sidebar. Just click "show more search tools" in the sidebar, select "Verbatim" and Google will no longer change your query.

"With the Verbatim tool, you can search using the exact keywords you typed," explains Google. Verbatim disables Google's spelling corrections and Google no longer replaces some of your keywords with synonyms (e.g.: television / TV), similar terms (e.g: buy flowers / send flowers), words with the same stem (e.g.: fixing / fix). Verbatim also disables search personalization.

Here are the results for [iPhone 4S fixing battery], after/before enabling Verbatim.

"In addition to verbatim search, which will be rolling out to all users over the next few days, we're also applying similar ideas directly to our algorithms, such as tuning the accuracy of when our query broadening search improvements trigger. 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," mentions Google.

{ Thanks, Venkat and Herin. }

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