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Google's Verbatim Search - do you think people use it much?

     
4:54 am on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Alright. Call me slow or just eventually curious but I'm looking a Google's verbatim search and wondering how many people even know this exists. I'm finding it quite interesting where certain searches are concerned and wow, watch my pages jump up in results when I search on various exact phrases. Seems if we're going to have a discussion on ranking, this would have to be a factor. Question is, is it possible to tell if people are using this feature when they do a search? I'm sure I have more questions on this but it's late so I'll give it a day or so to see what anyone here has to say.
10:42 am on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think "verbatim" is one of those hidden features that can be extremely valuable for a researcher. use it a lot. I don't think that many people know about it or care.
1:14 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I use it a lot. But I'm weird. Even when you could use the + operator, I don't think many civilians used it.
2:35 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hidden is right. I just stumbled on it in a moment of boredom last night. I loved the + operator and have always thought that "putting a phrase in quotes" was a verbatim search. Having said that, I'm noticing quite a difference between a quoted search in "All Results" mode versus an unquoted search in "Verbatim" mode.
3:07 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Like Netmeg I use it a great deal for my personal research. Business aside, my hobby is genealogy and a standard Google search just produces masses of irrelevant junk. Verbatim and a judiicious use of " " around query phrases saves a lot of time.

You need to dig a bit for Verbatim: 'Search Tools' and then 'All results'.

I doubt that more than a tiny percentage of regular users are aware of it. Almost as if Google do not want it to be used much.
4:05 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Something else I'm noticing is that there seems to be an absence of ads and answer boxes when using this form of search. Makes sense that the feature is buried if it's not as easy to monetize. Visitors to Google.com don't even see an advanced search option until after running a search. G funnels everyone into it's commercial results before providing options for a better search.
4:20 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I suspect Verbatim takes you straight to 'long tail' results. Not too many Adwords bids and not much income for Google.

Maybe we shouldn't be talking about this less Google buries it even further!
5:19 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My own bookmark-bar link has always pointed to Advanced Search [google.com], which includes all possible options. If I mean "all these terms" I'll say so. If instead I mean "this exact phrase" then that's the box I use.
6:42 pm on May 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Where do you find this Verbatim feature?

Do you need to be using Chrome?

Need to be logged in?

.
2:35 am on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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No, on the Google page (the one with the results, not the one that just has the box) look under Search Tools (at the top) and then under All Results.
8:27 am on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This comes as a surprise to me, and may to many of us here. Verbatim and double quoted searches give different results. I thought that I'd used Verbatim search a lot, because I used double-quotes a lot to search for exact matches. They're a great way of refining searches.

I had assumed that that's what Verbatim did... return exact matches. It turns out this supposition is not generally true. I think that many here have been assuming the same thing. Here's some background to try to explain why there's a disconnect...

First, to define "verbatim".... I searched Google for a definition and picked one that summed up essentially all the other definitions I found, and which matches my longtime preconception of what the word "verbatim" means in English....

From thefreedictionary.com...
verbatim: Using exactly the same words; corresponding word for word

I discovered tonight that the use of double quotes around phrases to get exact matches is only consistent with Verbatim results when there are also double quotes in the Verbatim search.

When there are no quotes in the Verbatim search, Verbatim doesn't give anything like exact matches. Without double-quotes, Verbatim gives me what I would describe as all-the-exact-words but mostly not in the same order as my search", and thus returns many more pages. Many whistles and bells are gone too, but not all. Some buried searches do come to the surface, but judicious use of quotes can do much the same thing.

On single word searches, with or without quotes, Verbatim results and single-word default searches are generally significantly different from each other.

Now, why did I believe that using double-quotes and Verbatim were the same?....

a) I've been using double-quotes for years, along with many of us here. I'd almost never used the "+" operator (see below).
b) after dropping the "+" operator, Google initially suggested we use double quotes
c) the announcement of Verbatim below suggested Verbatim would be "a more deliberate way to tell Google to search using your "exact terms", which for me meant (and still means) use double-quotes.
d) I don't remember seeing any differences before, but I may not have checked further (blush). Double quotes were easier to use, and all reports as I read them had Verbatim as returning "exact terms".
e) Possibly, though, Verbatim and double quotes parted ways at some unspecified point in algo development. I really don't know.
f) something else might be going on that we don't understand, about how Google values keywords in searches?

Here's a long but only partial quote from the official Verbatim announcement, with my emphasis added...

Search using your terms, verbatim
Posted: 11/15/11
http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/11/search-using-your-terms-verbatim.html [insidesearch.blogspot.com]

Behind the simplicity of Google search is a complex set of algorithms that expands and improves the query you’ve typed to find the best results. Automatic spelling correction ([vynal] to “vinyl”) and substituting synonyms (matching [pictures] to “photos”) are just two examples of the improvements we make.

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. In the past, we provided users with the “+” operator to help you search for specific terms. However, we found that users typed the “+” operator in less than half a percent of all searches, and two thirds of the time, it was used incorrectly. A couple of weeks ago we removed the “+” operator, encouraging the use of the double quotes, which are more likely to be used correctly.

Since then, we’ve received a lot of requests for a more deliberate way to tell Google to search using your exact terms. We’ve been listening, and starting today you’ll be able to do just that through verbatim search.
With the verbatim tool on, we’ll use the literal words you entered without making normal improvements such as...

So... I will continue to use double-quotes to find exact matches, but I can see uses for Verbatim as a research tool... checking the effects of stemming, synonyms, etc. This is too new to explore further right now, and too late at night for me to care. ;) ...except to say that I don't think double quotes are going to disappear as search operators. I think some of my other questions are worth considering. Am I the only one who had this misapprehension? I'm guessing not.

PS: Removed paragraph paste error and fixed typo.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:44 am (utc) on May 4, 2015]

9:42 am on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I use verbatim exclusively. It basically enables two features:

- Turns off synonym matching

- Prevents Google from ignoring words in your search query.

If you tend to query in question for like "What is the X" then verbatim is awful. It will only find pages that actually contain "what" on them somewhere. I'm used to using search for words that I expect to all be on the page. Verbatim is how I expect search work, so I use it.

I started using verbatim because Google was dropping important words from my search queries. For example I was looking for instructions for building a treadmill desk for my particular treadmill. I searched for "BRAND treadmill desk". Google recommended the brand home page as the first result despite the fact that it had nothing about desks on it. I wouldn't spend the time typing those extra words if I didn't want Google to try to find results that have them.
10:21 am on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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deadsea - Thanks. I'll have to recheck it for the dropped words, which is where I've been running into problems. I've assumed, that since I'd put those words in quotes, they'd appear if they were there. Will check and report.

Note in my post above that I've inadvertently entered "*" on occasion where I meant "+". They all refer to the plus operator, "+".
10:54 am on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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and wondering how many people even know this exists.


My non-scientific pub analysis amongst mostly small busness owners with a couple of mega corps thrown in there would suggest zero!

Ok, we know it's not zero however no one had a clue what I was talking about yet no one had a problem finding what they wanted but several did say they don't even use search now since they knew exactly where they were going.

Make of that what you will and the worry for G overall.
7:12 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Short version: verbatim search is equivalent to putting each separate word in quotes, right? So it's the difference between "blue widgets" (continuous string) and "blue" "widgets" (excluding wildly popular article about widget used in the blues, but permitting article about blue and green widgets).
7:29 pm on May 3, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Short version: verbatim search is equivalent to putting each separate word in quotes, right?


That would seem to be the case whereas the order of the words is important in a quoted search term (if I understand correctly). Sad fact is that pretty much the entire world uses generic search and many great matches are getting lost in all the "we thought you meant this" algorithms.
2:18 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Never used Verbatim Search. After I gave the option a GO - I am quite delighted of the results. Indeed, to bad that even some advanced searchers are oblivious of the feature and rely on the general brackets or quotes filters while searching. Thank you for the feature!
2:35 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I wish there were a way to set it as one's default, but yea of course that will never happen.
2:43 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Once upon a time, a very long time ago, Google delivered the exact search you were looking for - so was verbatim the default without having to specify it?

Wasn't that why we all liked Google?
2:50 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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>Wasn't that why we all liked Google?

I did prefer the old way, having to syntactically rewrite a search is a fail of the system IMO.

There may be both commercial and technical reasons for their reductionism though. IIRC Google had mentioned sometime in the past couple of years that ~30% of queries every year had never been typed before. I can see the sense in it being applied, sometimes, sometimes not.
2:56 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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For the record, we originally covered this here, as reported by Tedster Search Results with no Corrections - Google Introduces Verbatim Search [webmasterworld.com]

How else is Verbatim helpful to you?
2:57 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I don't know what this is or what you're talking about. I'm sure I'm not alone. "" isn't what we're talking about? Edit the original post and explain "how to", then it may grow in popularity. If I've been wasting my time with the quotes, then shame on me! I realize that being baffled on a daily basis with webmastering and using the internet is par for the course. This might save me flip flopping from going between Bing and Google.
3:16 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@MrSavage Unfortunately, I can no longer edit the original post but @netmeg did describe where to find this feature a bit later in the thread. Frankly, I thought I was the only webmaster on planet earth who had never seen this and was going to get laughed out of town for even bringing it up. Apparently, it's new to a lot of folks though.

...on the Google page (the one with the results, not the one that just has the box) look under Search Tools (at the top) and then under All Results.


So, in other words, you have to run a search and get some results back before you can even see the options mention in the quoted section.
3:20 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Oh wow, LOL. I did just check it out. Oddly enough, it sparsed out some of the text of the last word in my phrase. Odd. I'm going to see how Bing handles this. For clarity sake, the Verbatim is not = ""?
3:29 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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"" isn't what we're talking about?

"" around each individual word, not around the whole string.
3:37 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Here's the partial URL that results from a standard Google search for the word "test."

...google.com/#q=test

Now here's the URL for a verbatim search for the same term...

...google.com/#q=test&tbs=li:1

And just for completeness, here's the URL produced by a "Reading Level" search

...google.com/#q=test&tbs=rl:1

It appears that &tbs=li:1 is what makes it a verbatim search. Not sure if this leads to a shortcut or could be used with an api or whatever but thought I'd throw it out to the universe and see what comes back.
4:04 pm on May 4, 2015 (gmt 0)

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To answer the original question by Webcentric, I e-mailed some friends to ask them if they used it. The answer was an emphatic no. In fact, most of them couldn't find it easily, and they'd certainly not heard of it previously.
 

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