Google improves search function in quotes

Now, when searching for an exact term, the result will prominently display the point in the text where it appears

When you go to Google looking for some information or asking a question, do you usually use quotation marks or write a natural-sounding phrase in the search bar? For those who like to do a “literal” search, placing the term or phrase in quotation marks, a new feature will make it a little easier to find the answer in the search engine.

Since August 2022, anyone who types something in quotation marks on Google (for now only in the version desktop) not only receives back the content that the search engine found but also displays right there, on the response page, the exact place in the text where the search term was used. 

The new, explains the company, is that in this case the snippet (text that comes just below a page title) starts to display an excerpt where this term appears, highlighting it in bold. Previously, the result contained a summary of the content, which sometimes only included the keyword, and not the entire phrase. 

Want to see how it turned out? Open a tab in your browser and type “iFood electric motorcycle” there. You will see that, on the results page, the search engine will display the different content that has that exact phrase, no matter where on the page it was written (whether at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the content).

What is the best way to search on Google?

You may have already had this question, especially when you didn't find the answer on the first page of results. According to the company, the search by quotation marks is very good for those who already use the search engine a lot or when an exact phrase makes all the difference.

“But we generally recommend doing any research in natural language first,” explains the company. “By default, our systems look for the words and phrases you entered, as well as related terms and concepts. Whoever performs the search in quotation marks may miss useful content that makes use of this.”

Google also took the opportunity to reinforce some messages regarding the quote search functionality:

Terms used only in links or titles do not appear

If the term was only used in the URL address or in the title of the pages, it will not appear in this new configuration of the search result using quotation marks.

Punctuation can be understood as space

The search engine “transforms” punctuations into spaces, and this can affect a result. So it may be that a search returns a term that is not exactly the same, with words separated by commas, slashes or hyphens, for example.

Snippet may not show multiple terms in quotes

If you search for more than one term in quotation marks, the result displayed in the snippet may not highlight them all if the distance between them on the page is too large. If a term appears several times on a page, Google chooses to give space to the one it deems to be more relevant.

Searched content will not always be in a visible location

It may seem like what you searched for isn't there, but it is. Google explains that the term may be “hidden” in the meta description tag or in the ALT tag, a text field used to describe an image. In these cases, the company recommends using the developer tool to find the sentence you couldn't see.

Pages may have changed 

What you were looking for may no longer be on a page because the content may have been modified between the search engine's visit to that page and another. This can be resolved by trying to access the copy “stored” by the technology company (also known as cache) of that page.

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