I have discussed AND and EXACT searches many times, but did you know the following?

In addition to enclosing search terms with double quotes (“like this”), in some search engines one can invoke a shortcut to an EXACT search by using certain characters that serve as sequence connectors. These work in the same way double quotes work. The most common is the hyphen; e.g. 


In the case of Google this search engine seem to recognize as sequence connectors hyphens, periods, equal signs, back and forward slashes, and colons.

car-insurance 71,300,000
“car insurance” 70,200,000
car=insurance 70,200,000
car.insurance 70,200,000
car:insurance 70,200,000
car/insurance 70,200,000
car\insurance 70,200,000
car//insurance 70,200,000
car\\insurance 70,200,000

However, in Google not all characters work as EXACT shortcuts. Others are totally ignored:

car insurance 141,000,000
‘car insurance’ 141,000,000
/car insurance/ 141,000,000
//car insurance// 141,000,000
car;insurance 141,000,000
car!insurance 141,000,000

Using EXACT shortcuts is not unique to Google. Less known search implementations like WorldBookFair.com ( http://worldebookfair.com/Help.htm#phrase_search ) use some of these connectors. These allow users to submit complex queries in a given mode with a portion in EXACT. For example, the query

q = “car insurance” + quotes

is an AND search of the form

q = k1 + k2

containing the EXACT sequence defined by k1 = “car insurance”

Thus the query is different from

q = car insurance quotes

since here k1 = car.

Have you discovered other term sequence connectors in Google or other search engines? This is important. Knowing the parsing rules that enble a system to interpret characters as connectors can be used to optimize a copy. We have discussed how this can be done in previous issues of IR Watch – The Newsletter.

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