Boolean Tricks OR Treats

Cackling by sage_solar

As it’s Halloween, I thought I would use its most iconic phrase to demonstrate some Boolean search basics with Google Search.

Trick or treat

Halloween - tot1

This is probably the way Google expects us to search for this so it is probably the most visually pleasing set of results. Google will most likely be searching for both the words trick and treat on the pages, as we didn’t capitalise our OR, not making it a Boolean operator. Google does still highlight the or in results, clearly giving priority to the phrase “trick or treat”.

“Trick or treat”

Halloween - tot2

This set of results doesn’t look quite as pretty, Google probably doesn’t expect its average user to use quote marks when searching. It will be looking for the whole prase “trick or treat” so the results are similar to the last search. You will note that the estimated number of results for this search is less than the previous search. While these numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt, this is likely to be the case as the exact phrase will appear on fewer pages than simply both the words trick and treat.

Trick OR treat

Halloween - tot3

This search doesn’t make much sense in the context of Halloween. This searches for one or more of the words trick and treat. The results reflect this as the top two are definitions of the two words. You will also note that we have an estimate of many more results – obviously this is because we’ve been much less fussy with our search, any page that mentions either of the words trick or treat will satisfy this query.

Please note that I was logged in to Google when I ran these searches and yours might look totally different.

Image credit.