Does Google not count certain words in search queries? If so which words?

I remember hearing somewhere that woulds such as "how to" and "in" get discounted so if you searched for a "painter in new york" Google would query their index with "painter new york".

Is this correct?

  • painter in new york is pretty general, is that a house painter or portrait painter you're looking for? Google will use all words in some exceptions as listed below and who knows how else based on your location. – Anagio Jun 19 '12 at 21:40

Yes, this is correct. Google does not use all the words in your query to display search results - at least not all the time.

There does not seem to be a list for all the words that are in a query but which Google might not consider when displaying search results; likely they are articles (a, an, the), prepositions (of, on, in) and - possibly, and depending on the context - frequent verbs like be, is, are, go, was, went.

Google lists its policy on this site under Exceptions, though:

Google Exceptions

  • Not correct, Google does use all terms in the query, because if you search for the who you'll see Google uses both The and Who in the search query. search?hl=en&safe=off&q=the+who – Anagio Jun 19 '12 at 21:38
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    @Anagio this is clearly called out as an exception to the rule in the first point... – Mike Hudson Jun 19 '12 at 23:48
  • @MikeHudson saying Google does not count certain words isn't true. They clearly do weather it's an exception to a query or not. It's only a few examples Google gives us. Searching painter new york and painter in new york does not generate the same exact search results they are quite different. – Anagio Jun 20 '12 at 0:03
  • I have edited my answer to reflect that Google may or may not take some words into consideration when displaying search results. I have made a distinction between query (what you enter in Google) and search results (what Google displays). Everyone who uses Google on a daily basis must have noted that Google does not use ALL the words when displaying search results. – user 99572 is fine Jun 20 '12 at 7:18

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