Not Getting Strong Enough Results

ContentGems indexes hundreds of thousands of articles daily. Still, you may find that the articles in your Filters could be more relevant. This can happen if a search is too broad or ambiguous. There are a few easy ways to hone your results to get more relevant articles.

You can:

  • Search for a specific geographic region
  • Reduce ambiguity by using "Must Not"
  • Raise the minimum popularity
  • Sharpen the current keywords
  • Tweak the Boolean search
  • Try different keywords, and
  • And more sources

Search for a specific geographic region

Refine your content river by discovering keywords you want to exclude from your search. For example, let’s say you want to hone in on a specific region, like Europe, but notice a lot of articles coming from Canada. You can do this by using the “must not” option to remove any articles that include those words. 

If you want to remove Canadian results for example you would do:

Must Not Canada


Must Not Canadian

Reduce ambiguity by using "Must Not"

Perhaps one of the reasons the results aren't as strong is because of ambiguous terms. You can improve results by using  Must Not, which filters out articles that contain certain terms, in the Filters tab. 

A good example is the topic "Apple." Are you interested in the fruit or the company? If you are interested in the fruit, then under  Must Not you might add phrases like "iPhone,” "MacBook," "iPad," "Apple Watch," and "Tim Cook."

Raise the minimum popularity

In Filters, under the Settings tab, you will see the “minimum popularity” option. This sorts articles by how popular they are on social media. The “very high” setting for articles tends to draw from well-known, broadly read sources, while lower popularity settings may draw from more niche sources. To improve the quality of results, you may want to experiment with increasing the popularity level to achieve a balance between quality and quantity!

Sharpen the current keywords 

ContentGems looks for exact phrases, so think carefully about how often that exact phrase will be used. If your phrase contains a hyphen, there’s no need to include it. Searching for “third wave coffee” works better than “third-wave coffee.”

Incorporate fuzzy matching

To match similar spellings, you can make a term fuzzy by adding a tilde and a fuzzy factor. E.g.,   ~color0.3 will match both "color" as well as "colour". Here the fuzzy factor was 0.3: the higher the fuzzy factor, the fuzzier the matches are.

Try boosting

The ContentGems ranking system delivers relevant content into your river, and sometimes you may want to prioritize some important keywords over others. That’s where boosting comes into play: basically, boosting allows you to control the importance of a term in a search. 

To boost a term use the   ^ symbol with a boost factor (by the exponential of that number) at the end of the term. For instance, if you have a search that includes the keyword "AdWords" and want to boost this keyword then use the query AdWords^2. To boost a phrase, append the boost modifier after the closing quote: "content marketing"^10.

Any terms that don't have a field or boosting specified default to being searched in the title and body text fields. And the title gets a boost of ^25. You could accomplish the default behaviour with the following term:   (title:water^25 body:water). This is a Boolean Or query that searches for the term "water" in the article's title field with a boost factor of 25, and in the body field with no boost. This approach ranks articles with the term in the title higher than those that contain the term in the body.

Lastly, you can’t “negative boost” a keyword. So if you’ve included a   Must Not, there’s no need to boost it down further. ContentGems already will exclude that keyword.

Tweak the Boolean search

It could be how Boolean search interprets your commands. For example, if you are wanting to learn about organic coffee beans, you will receive more articles searching for “organic”  AND “coffee beans” than “organic coffee beans.” There’s no guarantee that people writing about that subject will use that exact three-word phrase.

Another thing you can do is change the rules that help you filter articles based on their content.

  • "contain the exact phrase"
    • Use this option to specify exact terms or phrases found in an article 
    • Example: The exact term "water" matches "Water down the bridge" but doesn't match "Watermelon Sugar"
    • Matching is not case-sensitive.
  • "contain words starting with"
    • Use this option to specify word prefixes found in an article
    • Example: The word prefix "water" matches both "Water down the bridge" and "Watermelon Sugar"
  • "contain text similar to phrase"
    • Use this option to specify fuzzy search terms
    • Example: The fuzzy search term "color" matches both "colour" and "color"
  • "be shared with Hashtag"
    • Use this option to specify the hashtag an article was shared under on Twitter. Hashtags have to match exactly, although they are not case sensitive
  • "be from Web Domain ending with"
    • Use this to specify the domain suffix under which an article is hosted. This rule is useful to specify from which kind of websites you want to get recommendations. You can, e.g., limit search to Canadian websites by entering ".ca" in this rule with a Must application. Or you can exclude articles from a specific website by entering the Web Domain in this rule with a Must Not application
  • "match advanced query"
    • Use this to specify advanced rules for matching content. The next section on advanced query syntax will provide all the details

Advanced Query Syntax

Here are some expert tips for pinpointing your search.


Your keywords may include a bunch of variations. For example, you may want to learn more about paint, so in addition to “paint,” you could also search for “paints,” “painter,” “painters,” “painting,” and “paintings,” which would net you more articles. You can use a wildcard search to cut down on the duplication, just by using the  * symbol. For instance, the query paint* would look for all of the above. 


Parentheses allow you to create queries with nested logic. For instance, to search for content that must contain either “information” or “technology" you would include the following term:  (information technology).

Field specifiers

Field specifiers allow you to query a particular field in an article. If you don't specify a field, the term will be matched against the article's title and body text fields.

The following fields are available for searching:

  • body searches in the article body only. Example: To find articles that have the term "apple" in their body text, enter body:apple as one of your query terms.
  • domain matches the domain suffix in the article's URL. Use this to find articles from a given Web Domain, e.g., for geographic filtering. Domains are interpreted from right to left. This may be unexpected. So to match any ".uk" domains, you just enter domain:uk.
    • Example 1: To match articles from Web Domain ending in "", enter
    • Example 2: To match articles from a specific Web Domain, enter
  • excerpt searches the first 300 characters in the article's body text only. Sometimes searching this field instead of the entire body will eliminate noisy results since the most important terms are typically found at the beginning of an article. Example: To search for articles that contain the term "content marketing" at the beginning of the body text, enter excerpt:"content marketing".
  • hashtag finds articles that were shared on Twitter with this hashtag. Example: To find articles that were shared on Twitter with the "#beyonce" hashtag, enter the following: hashtag:beyonce.
  • title searches in the article title only. Example: To find articles that contain the term "green tea" in their title, enter the search term title:"green tea".

Try different keywords

The Keyword Suggester, a yellow button above the keywords in the Filters tab, will help you find other potentially related search terms. For our example, for “coffee shop” it will also suggest “coffeehouse” and “cafe” as potential keywords to add. You can then select from the suggestions and include them in your keywords section, and then watch like magic as more articles appear. 

Another trick is to look at articles that you enjoy and to see which existing keywords are being found by using the info button. In addition, you could skim the article to see if any new keywords may pop up that you could experiment with to see if they may pull in more relevant articles.

Add more sources

Lastly, you could include more sources to expand the net that ContentGems casts. You can create new Feed Collections in three ways: through RSS feeds, through your Twitter timeline, or through an OPML import. 

You could include specific sites into your Feed Collections via their RSS feeds, or draw from articles shared by your Twitter stream. The Twitter Home Timeline option is especially helpful because you carefully choose the thought leaders and influencers to follow, and rather than trying to skim your entire Twitter timeline, ContentGems can surface all the articles being shared by accounts you follow.

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