In our first article (of three) we will demystify Boolean search logic and introduce you to tools to help you create smart searches that remove the noise. At first, this might seem complex, but there is a clear logic to its use, and with a little practice you’ll be mastering Boolean 🏆.
Looking for a quick introduction? Here is a 3-minute video covering search fundamentals.
What is Boolean?
Boolean is a type of search that allows you to combine keywords with operators (or modifiers) such as AND, NOT and OR (to name a few. We'll cover more in article 2) to produce more relevant results.
Let's revisit our old friend from the How to Create a Search article where we introduced you to the following search:
A Boolean Example
When we convert the search above to Boolean logic it looks like this:
((apple) AND (watch OR iwatch)) NOT ("apple sauce" OR "apple juice" OR "apple orchard*")
Let’s break this down to its three components to help us piece our brains back together:
results that include apple that also...
|(watch OR iwatch) NOT||
include either watch or iwatch but not...
|("apple sauce" OR "apple juice" OR "apple orchard*")||apple sauce, apple juice or apple orchard|
How to Modify a Boolean Search
Now that we’ve wrapped our heads around this example, let’s look at two scenarios where we want to modify our original search. In the first one, we’ll widen the search and in the second one, we’ll narrow the search.
1. Widen the search by adding another product category (e.g. iphone):
- ((apple) AND (watch OR iwatch OR iphone)) NOT ("apple sauce" OR "apple juice" OR "apple orchard*")
2. Narrow the search by excluding all mentions of the iphone:
- ((apple) AND (watch OR iwatch)) NOT ("apple sauce" OR "apple juice" OR "apple orchard*" OR iphone)
Note that by adding iphone as an exclusion term (NOT) in the second scenario, we run the risk of excluding results that include watch or iwatch, as the iphone and the watch are product categories that are often mentioned together. We, therefore, need to carefully consider how we use the operators to structure our searches and prevent false negatives.
Syntax You Need to Know
A few notes on syntax beyond the AND, OR, NOT operators:
- “ “ quotation marks must be used for phrases
- ( ) parentheses are used to define logic between operators
- * asterisk can be as a wildcard to capture different permutations of a word (e.g. “apple orchard*” gets us singular and plural forms).
Above we introduced you to Boolean search and the most basic set of operators (AND, OR, NOT). Meltwater offers additional operators and syntax that can further refine your searches. We’ll cover that in article 2.
💡 Pro Tip: Target your search further by filtering it using Source Selection.
Other Articles in this Series
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