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New Google search operator
Try ~ in your search

 7:22 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

"You may want to search not only for a particular keyword, but also for its synonyms. Indicate a search for both by placing the tilde sign ("~") immediately in front of the keyword."


This is good stuff!

Added: Credits to Henk van Ess who found it first!

[edited by: HitProf at 8:56 pm (utc) on Aug. 4, 2003]



 8:51 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

... And to see all the words been taking in account use :
~widget -widget


 9:00 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see the future unfolding before our eyes! Nice find!


 9:28 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Very neat!

From an SEO perspective that does not really help much, as the overwhelming majority of users will not use it.

My own biggest problem is with abbreviations, not synonyms. Users often include the state in their search, either spelled in full or abbreviated (about half do each). Also about half search for "mount widget", while the other half searches for "mt. widget".


 9:28 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is this a result of Applied Semantic's CIRCA Technology?

Are you experiecing that Google is S-O-O S-L-O-W?


 9:46 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

From an SEO perspective that does not really help much,

As if! Bet your bottom dollar that google will start using this in a watered down verson in normal searches - optimised to get the mix just right to increase search field, but not to decrease relevancy. Pretty much certain.

This tool will allow the canny SEO to find all the ~synonyms for their top key words/phrases ACCORDING to google - and optimise for them.

My bet for future google will be:
Current factors + A x Relevancy of page to original search term + B x Relevancy of page to synonym term, where B << A.

i.e. by having synonmyms on your page as well as the original term, you will show it's really a page about the subject area, more likely to be a good proper page.

so ~get them synonyms and drop them into your pages!


 10:00 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I hope Google comes out with a button for the queries to consider

1. singular and plural versions of a word same.
2. nicknames same as actual name.

In my view that will be quite useful.


 10:32 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've been nagging for this for a long time, so I'm very happy with it. Pitty it's English only, I'll keep my fingers crossed again :)

[webmasterworld.com...] (msg33)
[webmasterworld.com...] (msg4)

BTW it's also a great keyword research tool.


 10:38 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I hope Google will not implement this in Adword to increase the chance of PPC! For words who got more than one sense, you'll find sometime a weard first result.


 11:12 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Cool feature. Doesn't seem to work very well for
~google -google though. :-)

 6:33 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This paper comes to mind:

Automatic extraction of synonyms in a dictionary

Vincent D. Blondel & Pierre P. Senellart



 6:59 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's a cool little "fuzzy concept" operator. :)


 7:18 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

HitProf: It also works in German.

I have a keyword in form of internetKeyword (in German). Looking at ~internetKeyword -internetKeyword I see that for Google internetKeyword is the same as internet Keyword.

I always pondered about that because most sites for internetKeyword in the top ten don't have internetKeyword on their pages. But they do have internet and Keyword on their pages.

Now I finally got the confirmation that Google looks at those words as if they were the same.


 7:43 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting how languages are.
Searched on G for
appeared with the following words BOLDED in results:
cheap, disount, discounted, used

"Used" was in a sentence on one of the SERPS
This used to be a great.....
(nothing to do with discounting, in fact it would be impossible to have a used version of my keyword since it's a product that liquidates as soon as manufactured)

Agree that this tool is best for finding the synonyms google USERS may use when researching , but not expecting huge use of the ~


 8:37 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm a bit confused about this. The ~ basically means that the first keyword "widgets" should be looked for in the context relating to the second keyword "~foo"? Is this correct? What advantages (or difference) does make from the usual "widgets foo" phrase?

Anyone able to guess what "~" could actually be doing to the results?

I intially thought that the "widgets" word would be the only one ranking is based on, with ~foo used to reduce the intial set of results - but you can get MORE results by using the "~".


 8:51 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's good news zgb99. I agree that the priciple is exactly the same as the ~ but I doubt they have real synonyms for other languages as of now.

I remember Google was working on word combinations in Google.de some time ago.

Google highlights (and finds) the seperated words as well when searching for the combination. Try a search for CombinedKeywords - CombinedKeywords. The results stay the same when you add a ~ (at least in the filesharing example I tried).


 8:57 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)


'widget ~foo' returns results for 'widget foo', 'widget foos', 'widget foobar' and 'widget foo-synonyms' so it'll return more results than a search for 'widget foo'.

Uhm.. does it? I found one that returned less results but I can't reproduce that one right now :(

Sometimes it also includes widgets and widget-synonyms in the results.


 10:16 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is a great feature. Wonder how long until someone writes a script to extract data for keyword stuffing.


 10:34 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)


Thanks for the explanation.

So a search should always return more results as searches for "widget ~foo" will include both foo and all variations of foo.

However, doing a one word search for "~widgets" actually returns less results than just "widgets"


 11:48 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

However, doing a one word search for "~widgets" actually returns less results than just "widgets"

I see it too, and it's difficult to find out why. First I thought a page needs at least 2 (different?) hits to show up in the SERPs. But I can also find pages with only one hit (maybe anchor text, file-name, etc. also counts?).

For image-search the new search operator is not (yet) working. :(


 1:30 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's pretty cool.
It should be helpful for me-- I'm making a site for an industry that suffers from poor standardization of technical terms, so for example three U.S. State governments refer to a certain concept using one phrase, while 40 other states generally use a second totally different phrase for the same thing, and the remaining seven states and Canada have yet a third entirely different way of referring to the same concept. My problem is I don't even know them all, have no idea which is the most common in my target audience, and am wondering if our target audience may not be currently defined by which phrases I've actually thought to use, and if we could expand if we only knew the other ones...
So perhaps Google could help me. But I'm thinking the terms may be too technical.
Back to combing through trade journals! But there's hope for the future.


 1:32 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

whew! this is awesome cool than stemming..i always wished for stemming or something like that..this one beats stemming by miles :)
wtg G!

I wish more and more people utilize advanced search options, rather than complain about 'it doesn't find anything useful':(. i wud bet 1% of the users ever use it. G shud do something about it..make it more user friendly or well-accessible for common..hit-get-results-kind-of-surfers.


 1:36 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Maybe this will somehow relate to Google's efforts to better understand the context, as opposed to content of a page. If a page contains a keyword as well as synonyms it would be nice to have that all work towards the rank of said page in a search for just the keyword. I suppose the next step would be understanding the relationship between words on the page to really determine context.


 5:59 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

(originally posted in the supporters forum, didn't realize this discussion was going on in here)

This command might offer up some valuable information from a theming perspective. Now, I realize most everyone pays theming very little attention, because that's what it seems Google does.

Not proposing that this little command means Google is about to change how they rank, but it might be an indicator that they're considering themes, after all, why else would they implement it? As an end user convenience? (even if thatís the case itís not unimportant to us)

Anyway, from poking around with the tilde, it seems for some of my terms (let's say, term1) there is quite often a predominantly associated term (let's say, a term2), that you wouldn't necessarily expect (related, but not seemingly any more related than a number of other terms).

For some term1's there appear to be no pattern, and the associated terms are fairly spread about the spectrum. But for some there is definitely a term2 that comes up predominantly in the SERPS.

What I'm wondering is, if Google were to implement any type of theme based model, would it be in our best interests to build sites around term2, in order to support sites going after term1? Will Google see a closer association between these two terms, and therefore consider both sites to be better themed if they are linked up?

I can see Google returning a SERP for term1 basing the results on sites that offer more than just information on term1, but perhaps a balance of information about associated terms. Maybe finding those balances, on page and off, will become a more important aspect of SEO (it's already an aspect, for certain).

The 'associated terms' I've seen so far are definitely not simply synonyms. Some are, but some are just closely tied terms. ie. for <snip>

I have noticed, the sets are often very limited. Perhaps my thinking that there is a predominant term2 is really just a result of the set being so limited.

Please Be Gentle

 7:59 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's one small symbol for Google, one giant leap for humankind! Thanks for making my life that little bit simpler. This is actually a huge advance in querying, searchers no longer have to put term1 OR relatedTerm2 OR relatedTerm2(although few probably bothered to do so), just ~term1 and google will understand more or less what you mean (the promise of AI and "The perfect search engine which would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want" seems tantalizingly close). I only came across this by chance yesterday- how long has it been there? ( Initially I feared for the fate of the OR operator, would it be condemned to oblivion with the tilde operator, another victim of "progress"? However "power searchers" will still probably need to use OR for terms such locationX or locationY, which cannot be synonyms, so OR is safe for the moment). On a more serious note, how is Jo(e) Surfer going to find this new wonder operator? Something of this stature should be on Google News, or even in a link on www.google.com.(I know it would mean a few more bytes on the homepage, thus slowing it down by upto a millifraction of a nano-second, but you have to live dangerously sometimes). Few explore the advanced search options (in fact this operator does not seem to be included in the advanced_search page) so maybe Google should look at educating the "normal" users (those who may think "SERPS" are natives of Serbia). Personally I don't feel the "advanced search page" is the panacea it is purported to be, for a variety of reasons. Furthermore it is not enough to have what aspires to be the "best search engine" if the majority of users are unaware of how to use it properly. Some are too lazy to do so, but I suspect many are just unaware of how to get the most out of Google. People are not generally "stupid" - they just need guidance sometimes,thus the onus is on both Google and the end user to raise standards in querying.(Educating the normal user, although not as glamourous as building super-slick search algorithms, may even spare us from a deluge of Slate articles lambasting the 'alleged bias inherent' in Google's results, when all the "researcher" needs to do is learn how to utilize Google correctly and refine queries accordingly.) Just a thought, and once again I am grateful for the tilde.
Kindest Regards and happy August to all


 8:08 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I know what you mean, PBG. Before, if you're searching for an overview/tutorial/introduction to say mutt (an email program), you'd do
mutt overview¦tutorial¦introduction¦guide
or something similar. Now mutt ~help works great.

Folks did know about the "¦" operator meaning "OR", right? :)


 8:19 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Only C/JS/PHP coders use it, GG. ;-)

<added:>A localization/usability problem: Italian keyboards have no ~ key. :)
And I guess that very few non-geek people here know that you have to keep the ALT key pressed while typing the ASCII code "126" on the numeric keypad to generate a tilde.
So please make sure you put a detailed explanation on Google Italia's advanced search functions page when you eventually update it with the new operator.</added>

[edited by: Giacomo at 10:31 pm (utc) on Aug. 5, 2003]


 8:22 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

i tried to look for perl ~mouse and it showed some SERPS with cursors :-) awesome..it is not just synonyms for sure. it think it might have something to do with Google Sets built from synonyms of the keyword?


 8:29 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

so gg, how is google going to propogate the existance of this search technique?

I used to teach novices how to use the Internet, and one thing nobody ever knew was how to use an operator on a search query.

Please Be Gentle

 9:07 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Folks did know about the "¶" operator meaning "OR", right? :)

I believe I did, but I think I came across it in "Google Hacks". It may be on the Google site, but I am not sure where. Is there an exclusive club to which one needs to belong to find these gems, or is it a zen thing and is it only when you don't actively seek it that it seeks you? In a nutshell how does the average "internaut" gain access to "the secret Google"?

Best Regards

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