In late October, Daniel Russel, one of the big brains at Google search, wrote a blog post on a less known search operator named AROUND(N). I subscribe to Daniel Russel's blog, I saw it, but missed it as something people really didn't know. Yesterday Digital Inspiration blogged about it and people took notice.
So what is the AROUND(n) operator? Well, it comes in handy when you want to find a set of search results that show more importance to both sets of words in your query and when the current results don't give you what you are looking for.
Daniel Russel gives some examples:
[ "Jerry Brown" AROUND(9) "tea party" ] will find you a bunch of hits illustrating the relationship between Jerry Brown (running for governor of California) and the Tea Party. (It's strained, at best.)
Using AROUND is especially useful when the documents are rather long (think book-length articles). So try this operator in Google Books.... [ slavery AROUND(4) indigo ]
The operator must be used in ALL CAPS.
A WebmasterWorld thread notes two things.
(1) Bing has a similar operator named "near"
(2) Tedster explained when he would find this useful. He said, "I can see this advanced operator being particularly handy when my first search gives me mostly results where the various query terms appear only in disconnected parts of a page."
Update: Gary Price has a lot more detail from a librarian's perspective at ResourceShelf.