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December 8, 2010

Google's AROUND Operator for Proximity Search

Google has an undocumented operator called "AROUND" for finding web pages that include words or phrases which are near to each other.

If you want to find results that include both "Steve Jobs" and "Andy Rubin", you might search for ["Steve Jobs" "Andy Rubin"] or even for ["Steve Jobs * Andy Rubin"]. Google's AROUND operator lets you specify the maximum number of words that separate the two names. For example, you could search for ["Steve Jobs" AROUND(3) "Andy Rubin"] and only get web pages that include the two names separated by less than three words.


"The AROUND operator is a handy trick to use when you're looking for a combination of search terms when one dominates the results, but you're interested in the relationship between two query terms. Note also that if Google can't find anything within the limit, it will just do regular ranking of the terms without the AROUND coming into play. Using AROUND is especially useful when the documents are rather long (think book-length articles). So try this operator in Google Books.... [slavery AROUND(4) indigo]," suggests Google's Daniel Russell.

Barry Schwartz notes that Bing has a similar operator, but it's called "near".

{ via Search Engine Roundtable }

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