Search Engines? Why are they Abandoning Search Terms?


I think DuckDuckGo’s developers still try to respect search terms, but since their upstream sources don’t, their results don’t respect search terms.

I doubt Google’s developers are trying to respect search terms. I keep seeing Google highlight results other than the search terms. For example, if I’m searching for “accessibility,” Google and sites using Google, return an absolute scatload of results involving “access,” instead, often password trouble and the like. If I’m searching for “Germanic,” “languages,” etc. I get results involving “German,” instead. If I’m searching for “War of the Rebellion,” in quotes, a collection of documents from the war, “noncombatants,” and some other terms, I get results involving “nullification.” I don’t want to ris adding “-nullification” to exclude this, but that wasn’t one of my search terms and I know it is replacing one of my search terms.



If you put each search term in quotes, it should only use that term and not synonyms.

I think the idea is that you should get search results for, say, “deal on screens” when you type “sale on monitors.” However, quotes should override the synonym search.


Yes, but I need quotes to talk about the terms.

Anyway, “access” is not a synonym of “accessibility,” “German” is not a synonym of “Germanic,” and “nullification” is not a synonym of who-knows-what.


You could use Google-search to find out how to use Google-search. I know… madness! But the information is out there in case Google doesn’t magically understand what you are looking for. This only answers the: “how”. As for the “why”? That’s a tough one.


So can anyone recommend a half-decent search engine which (a) isn’t Google and (b) respects search terms?


I’m not seeing that with Google; I suspect it’s their customization algorithm guessing wrong. Try logging out of google/chrome and/or use incognito mode and see if you get better results. Also, can try under Search Tools, switch from All Results to Verbatim.


It bothers the hell out of me. I have had a few searches lately where even quotes for verbatim results were getting me weird substitutions. For instance, I was looking up the name of a CD which had “all” in the title, but I kept getting results for a similarly named book which used “everything”. It’s also a nuisance when people have a name which is also a regular word, such as “David White”.

Lately I have been using DuckDuckGo more often than Google, but they substitute strings in my searches often. I even created an account so that I could talk with the DDG people and complained to them about it. I told them that there should be options for either verbatim or “corrected” search and they were surprised. I explained how the more technical or obscure my search is, the more likely they are to second guess it, so it amounts to a lot of extra work on my end. But they tell me that I am in the extreme minority. I find it hard to believe - a search engine has only one basic job to do!

I suspect that a lot of this is caused by the shift of internet usage from research towards commerce over the years. For commerce, getting no results for an obscure search is A Bad Thing. Wouldn’t you like to see this stuff instead? From a research point of view, getting more results even if it is a failure wastes a lot of time. I don’t need to sift through 1000 results no matter what, only if they are relevant to my initial query. KNOWING that there are only five (or one, or none) relevant results is a success.

The challenge of research in the age of information glut is precisely being able to sift through all of the extraneous bullshit and make searches as specific as possible. Rather than assume that the user neither knows how to spell nor what they are looking for…


Maybe you are but, as another member of that minority, making overrides difficult/impossible is extremely irritating. Maybe they don’t want their interface cluttered or whatever but it’s not like one more button/option is going to hurt the clutter. Especially since lacking the option renders them useless at their core function when I need to use the option.

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There’s a way to do this, still. Put "allintext: " before the search.

5 results -
no results -
lots of results -


That one gets 7450 results for me!

Thanks for the tip.

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