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Google removes + search operator, expands quotation marks functionality
engine




msg:4378737
 4:39 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

According to a Google employee, when asked why the Google + search operator was removed, they replied [google.com]:-

We've made the ways you can tell Google exactly what you want more consistent by expanding the functionality of the quotation marks operator. In addition to using this operator to search for an exact phrase, you can now add quotation marks around a single word to tell Google to match that word precisely. So, if in the past you would have searched for [magazine +latina], you should now search for [magazine "latina"].


We're constantly making changes to Google Search - adding new features, tweaking the look and feel, running experiments, - all to get you the information you need as quickly and as easily as possible. This recent change is another step toward simplifying the search experience to get you to the info you want.


 

tedster




msg:4378745
 4:58 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I needed that knowledge just a few hours ago. Sure enough when I used quotes it did the job, but I hadn't thought of trying it.

g1smd




msg:4378764
 5:28 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I got so fed up with searching for [purple widgets] and having Google return "Did you mean purple gadgets?" and latterly actually say "results for purple gadgets, click here to see results for purple widgets" that I started searching for ["purple" "widgets"] some months ago. On some occasions, it actually had the desired effect. So, this thread is interesting to see as a confirmation of that effect.

Leosghost




msg:4378773
 5:43 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

^^ what he said..

engine




msg:4378774
 5:43 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I read that there was a suggestion it was removed because of Google+

netmeg




msg:4378782
 5:57 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google adds plus signs all over the place & removes it from the one place it belongs - as a search operator.

Robert Charlton




msg:4378788
 6:11 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've had the same experience that g1smd reports, and have been using quotation marks for some time. I've also been using them on single words and compound words that I haven't wanted changed.

martinibuster




msg:4378810
 7:02 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've never used the + operator with Google. Always the quotation marks.

Yahoo before Bing was a better search engine for drilling down, far more powerful and granular than Google. Since Yahoo switched to Bing I'm back to using Google for researching granular data for the first time in many years. Google's great for average run of the mill search queries. Not so good for drilling down.

The + operator was awkward because it has a mathematical meaning. Quotation marks make more sense.

travelin cat




msg:4378815
 7:27 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

So now that web professionals know this, when will the 99% of the world's population figure this out? You know, the people that actually use Google.

londrum




msg:4378820
 7:36 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

it doesn't work as advertised.

if you search for "apple ipod" (with the quotation marks) the first page that comes up is obviously apple's ipod page. but if you search the source code then there is not a single mention of the phrase "apple ipod"

apple appears. so does ipod. but the phrase doesn't

+"apple ipod" brings up the same page too.

how do you search for an exact phrase in google?

MrSavage




msg:4378824
 7:44 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can say that quotes is magical for my site. Use quotes, my sites tend to show up as they once did. Remove quotes and I'm gone.

I've been doing this for a while now. The quotes are like the sledge hammer to say, Google, take a break, I am freaking telling you exactly what to find me. Stop trying to read my mind.

So fingers crossed for me that it becomes mainstream. Sadly most people don't type worth a crap, let alone use the shift key and hitting the quote key. It's far from user friendly. For the masses, I'm not expecting this to be popularized. I would see people switching to Bing before realizing quotes is now the "must do" action in Google search.

Quotes in Google search disables the Google mind reading abilities.

jecasc




msg:4378826
 7:49 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Way to go. Now I have to use two " instead of one + with every search. Can we at least turn on " by default for every single keyword?

martinibuster




msg:4378827
 7:52 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

how do you search for an exact phrase in google?


That is the way to search for an exact phrase. I think you discovered a bug. :)

Leosghost




msg:4378829
 7:56 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was sure one time that they would eventually let us use regex to search..then someone rang the bell at the gate, and I woke up, and the unicorn that had told me they would ..vanished ..

MrSavage




msg:4378830
 7:58 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Forgot to mention. From the OP quote, serious the Google rep is suggesting that using quotes is moving in the direction of simplifying the search experience? Really? I like the idea of having a "use quotes" by default option.

Without realizing it, Google changed their search usability without telling anyone. If you're not using quotes then now more than ever before they are taking your phrase, looking at it, and then offering up something that actually wasn't exactly what you wanted. The reason? People have been using Google to type in exactly what they wanted to find. They didn't want and haven't in the past expected a big ol Google interpretation of what they want. A big source of the lousy results lately imo.

waynet




msg:4378838
 8:15 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed this the other day, it will take a little while for me to get used to not using + on my searches.

Seems a little odd that they still have the - operator without the +, or maybe they will be replacing that too?

rlange




msg:4378843
 8:18 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

londrum wrote:
if you search for "apple ipod" (with the quotation marks) the first page that comes up is obviously apple's ipod page. but if you search the source code then there is not a single mention of the phrase "apple ipod"

apple appears. so does ipod. but the phrase doesn't

I've been noticing this, too. The exact match functionality of the double quotes seems to have been significantly weakened. I don't know if it's intentional or if some other changes Google has made are overriding the intent of those double quotes. Either way, it's kind of annoying.

Sometimes I wonder if Google is being undone by its own over-engineering...

--
Ryan

londrum




msg:4378845
 8:19 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

its totally useless.
i've done some other easy searches and couldn't get an exact match for any of them

as well as my "apple ipod" test, try searching for "chicago bears games" (with quotes). that brings up a page that doesn't contain that phrase

neither does "new york train timetable" (positions 1, 2 and 3 in the serps all fail for that)

neither does "president obama speeches"
neither does "london weather report"

all of the pages are relevant... but none of them contain the exact phrase.

Mike_Feury




msg:4378879
 9:42 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Sometimes I wonder if Google is being undone by its own over-engineering..."

A big Yes to that, I imagine. A lot of engineers who must keep coding to keep their job.

As noted, what was previously one key press [on keyboard number pad] is now two presses, with shift key also required. Plus [sic] the logic of no plus, but still the minus operator. I like Bing.

zeus




msg:4378892
 10:02 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

hmm i have been using quotes for years, its nothing new or am i missing something here.

johnhh




msg:4378899
 10:34 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I always used + the extra keystrokes is now 4 including the shift seems too much work, another "des points nuls" by Google .. if my French is correct

lexipixel




msg:4378900
 10:38 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I know what you're thinking. Did he search for "blue" +widget or +"blue widget"? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a Google search engine, the most powerful search engine in the world, and would blow your website clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

johnhh




msg:4378902
 10:49 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
Did he fire 5 times or did he fire 6, or did Google shoot itself in the foot to show more adverts ... think broad match / exact match adsense adverts .. which sort of crosses my mind.
g1smd




msg:4378904
 10:57 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

how do you search for an exact phrase in google?

You often can't.

With stemming, similar words, synonyms and so on, Google will serve a page of results containing stuff they think you might want.

To stop that, the quotes go around each individual word; but that still doesn't allow a phrase.

MrSavage




msg:4378916
 11:32 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

How this works in my opinion:

Type: pink yellow widget c

Google returns: widget brand site, not pink yellow widget c site.

Solution: try quotes because it's about the only hope you have while using Google

gadget26




msg:4378919
 11:40 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Note that, on page 103 of the leaked Google Rating Guidelines, raters are told to check for copied content by searching for whole sentences surrounded quotation marks.

Since that functionality has been broken for some time, perhaps it should tell them to use Bing to perform that test. :-)

So the test they are supposed to perform comes back with tons of listings. Therefore: This page is spam. (Or at the very least, is marked of as duplicate content.)

P.S.: The manual doesn't tell the rater how to determine which copy is the original either, and we all know that Google itself doesn't seem to know. How can the rater know?

minnapple




msg:4378935
 12:46 am on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wish that you could search for "word/phrase 1" + "word word/phrase 2" with each phrase separated by other content.

Example: [1]Exact Match + [2]Exact Match = Result
[1] must appear before [2] in the content.
"yada yada" "blah blah"

Or a star
  • could be placed in the front the of search, removing the ordering criteria.
    *"yada yada" "blah blah"



  • Dijkgraaf




    msg:4378936
     12:55 am on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

    What really annoys me most about Google searches recently is that when you do a search for multiple words, you got the the page in the results, that the only place some of the word appears in is a Google add on the page.

    AG4Life




    msg:4378973
     3:22 am on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

    It's annoying because I now have to type in an extra character to use exact word match, and doubly annoying because I've had to use it far more often than in the past thanks to the state of the current search results (or rather, the way Google casually drops or devalues the keywords you type in).

    lucy24




    msg:4378979
     3:30 am on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

    In addition to using this operator to search for an exact phrase, you can now add quotation marks around a single word to tell Google to match that word precisely.

    What do they mean by "now"? The quotation marks around a single word have been around for, I dunno, months at least. I remember trying it in exasperation after searching for an unusual word and getting the predictable "You can't possibly have meant 'hovercraft' so we've given you the results for 'hooverville' instead".

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