Breaking: 5 Major Boolean Syntax Changes and #GoogleNose

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Things change so fast in our profession!

Here are the five major elements, that have just changed in Google‘s Boolean search syntax. If you are reading this blog, you will be one of the first people to know.

1. Synonyms in searching. Much to our delight, Google has restored the operator ~ (tilde). You can force Google to search for synonyms, again, using it right in front of a keyword (no spaces):



Note: At the same time Google has stopped searching for synonyms automatically. This was a failed initiative (named “knowledge graph”); this code has now been removed from the search engine giant.

2. AND. Google has added a new operator AND to the set of its basic operators. It is a Boolean operator.

Note: you must write this operator in all-caps for Google to recognize it: AND.

3. The location operator. Unfortunately, the location operator loc: that used to work on Google pretty well, uncovering search results in specific locations, has stopped working. It was a big help in sourcing, as well as in “social engineering”.  That change happened on March 23rd, 2015.

Well, it was great while it lasted!

4. Parentheses. While Bing allows to change the order of the Boolean operators using the parentheses (), Google did not provide this capability – until today. You can now use the parentheses to control how your Boolean statements are executed.

Note: If you are new to searching, be careful if you decide to use nested parentheses; don’t forget to write as many (‘s as )‘s. There’s a new Chrome extension to help with that.

5. Email Search. Finally, the following syntax for searching for email addresses


has started working! It finds email addresses at the mentioned in any web pages. Previously, Google interpreted the asterisk * as “any word” and ignored the special character @.

We can easily hunt for email addresses now. (I am investigating some Boolean syntax to reliably find phone numbers, but it’s too soon to tell what works and what doesn’t.)

The above report covers the major Boolean changes, globally, as of today, April 1st, which is also known as April Fool’s Day.

Additionally, for some interesting sourcing possibilities, check out a past Google innovation that you may have missed: Google Nose (still in Beta). We’ll be sharing some tips on that soon.

Happy Searching!




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