Please Say No to OR on Google

booleanstringsBoolean, Google 3 Comments

As I tweeted the other day, “I celebrate each time I talk a recruiter into stopping using long ORs – or any ORs – on Google. Stop – it is an outdated, ten-year-old technique.”

And I do not mean using | instead.

Here are some brief notes on the subject – and I hope to convince you, too!

1. Using OR defeats useful Google’s semantic interpretation of your search

What happens if you use the OR operator, for example, search for Developer OR Engineer? Google will find pages with “Developer” and pages with “Engineer.” It mixes them up and displays. But it will have a hard time deciding which should go first because you have asked about several different things, not specifying priorities. (Does it make sense?)

If instead, you search for (just) Developer, Google will find Developer, developing, development, Software Engineer, Coder, Programmer, and others who develop code and show the most relevant pages first.

On a tight search, with no ORs, you will get more results than with ORs. You can test it yourself.

Using ORs for synonyms and similar terms on Google is counter-productive. If you want to include either term in your search, it’s best to run two or more consecutive searches, where you will know what you are looking to find in each.

2. Using OR does not help to find many terms on one page

For example, if you search for Accenture OR Deloitte, Google will run queries with one, then another, and mix up the results pages. It won’t prioritize pages with both terms if that is what you wanted.

3. If you must use ORs, look into Custom Search Engines

In some cases, you will have a long series of search terms that are not synonyms – for example, school or company names. If you must search for a long Boolean OR of terms, Google will not help very much because its searches are limited to 32 words. This approach can help, though it’s a bit technical. But you may want just not to utilize Google for those.

I will be sharing this type of content, with many how-to examples, at our upcoming

Online Sourcing Learning Day, May 6th.

You must join us!





Comments 3

    1. Post

      Hi Betina, we do not have tickets for separate sessions. I recommend signing up for all. (You will get the recordings as well).

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