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January 21, 2012

Google Search, Punctuation Marks and Other Symbols

Google usually ignores punctuation and mathematical symbols from a query because it doesn't index them. They rarely change the meaning of a query and Google's index would have to grow a lot bigger, without improving the results too much. Some punctuation marks and mathematical symbols are used to provide advanced features (for example: colon, quotes, minus sign, plus sign).

I've recently noticed that Google started to show results for queries like [.], [,], [:], [;], [#], [%], [@], [^], [)], [~], [|], ["], [<], [$]. When you search for [%], Google shows the results for [percent sign] and that happens irrespective of the interface language, so it's not a synonym generated by Google's algorithms.


Search for [:] and you'll get the results for [colon]. Most results are about the colon from the human anatomy and they're not relevant.

18 comments:

  1. now google's next step is to adopt a wikipedia-esque searching by context. If I search [PC], am I searching for a [Personal Computer] or am I searching for [political correctness]? It would be nice to have that choice

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    1. they already do that mate

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  2. I tried it in google.co.ve (in Spanish) and although it recognizes the colon (:) results come unexpectedly, giving pages about the colon (intentine) and percentage, come to results in English.

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  3. About time Google realised there's punctuation in language!

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  4. New Google Drive evidence on Google Docs: http://tecno-net.blogspot.com/2012/01/nueva-prueba-de-google-drive-en-google.html

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    Replies
    1. https://drive.google.com/robots.txt

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    2. www.drive.google.com redirecting to Google Docs

      http://tecno-net.blogspot.com/2012/01/el-dominio-de-google-drive-redirecciona.html

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    3. Google enhancements ... Good thing.

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  5. It still doesn't know what is "€" ;-)

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  6. This is so that Google+ searches will return Google+ links. It has nothing to do with actually trying to improve search.

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  7. Still can't google %%. I have been trying to find out why people use "kill %%" rather than "kill %"

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  8. I very much doubt it's the case globally. I did notice *some* difference a few weeks ago. As an example I have noticed a difference with the "&". So some changes are happening.

    But searching for special characters would require re-indexing a whole lot and redoing search algorithms big time. In fact, try searching for punctuation marks plus words and you will soon see examples with no difference in the results.

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  9. For a few more details and how false rumors get spread please check out this post: http://bit.ly/Ao6kcZ

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  10. I have noticed that a lot of people building links on websites will sometimes use the [ ] symbols as a way of apparently bypassing onsite spam filters. Google may be including some symbols as a way to ferret out these apparent spam comments and links. Just a thought.
    My [$0.02]
    David

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  11. Sometimes they are. Sometimes I get really annoyed because I DON'T want any punctuation, I want a specific sentence.

    It should at least be an option. C'mon Google. You have the resources I know you do.

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  12. You couldn't preserve the comment when I went to change user?

    Google is lazy. If Google wasn't so lazy they would include punctuation as an option. If I had a dime for every time I got frustrated because I go to search for something that's supposed to be one sentence and every result has punctuation like a question mark or a period in the middle I would be a rich man.

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