you're fond of long, detailed queries, you might
never have noticed that Google has a hard limit of 10
words—that's keywords and special syntaxes
combined—summarily ignoring anything beyond. While this has no
real effect on casual Google users, search-hounds quickly find this
limit rather cramps their style.
By limiting your query to the more obscure of your keywords or phrase
fragments, you'll hone results without squandering
precious query words. Let's say
you're interested in a phrase from Hamlet:
"The lady doth protest too much,
methinks." At first blush, you might simply paste
the entire phrase into the query field. But that's
seven of your 10 allotted words right there, leaving no room for
additional query words or search syntax.
The first thing to do is ditch the first couple of words;
"The lady" is just too common a
phrase. This leaves the five word "doth protest too
much, methinks." Neither
"doth" are words you might hear
every day, providing a nice Shakespearean anchor for the phrase. That
said, one or the other should suffice, leaving the query at an even
four words with room to grow:
"protest too much methinks"
"doth protest too much"
Either of these will provide you, within the first five results,
origins of the phrase and pointers to more information.
Unfortunately, this technique won't do you much good
in the case of "Do as I say not as I
do," which doesn't provide much in
the way of obscurity. Attempt clarification by adding something like
quote origin English usage and
you're stepping beyond the ten-word limit.
Playing the Wildcard
Help comes in the form of
wildcard (Hack #13). It turns out that
Google doesn't count wildcards toward the limit.
So when you have more than 10 words, substitute a wildcard for common
words like so:
"do as * say not as * do" quote origin English usage
Presto! Google runs the search without complaint and
you're in for some well-honed results.
Common words such as "I,"
"of" actually do no good in the
words," they are ignored by Google entirely. To
force Google to take a stop word into account, prepend it with a
+ (plus) character, as in: