Nov. 16, 2011 at 3:11 PM ET
Just weeks ago, Google eliminated its longtime "+" symbol, used to let the search engine know exactly what you're searching for, replacing the plus sign with quotation marks. That resulted in a rebellion by search mavens, but Google is making amends. The plus sign — competition/confusion with Google+, perhaps? — is not back. But now, "verbatim" search will do the same thing.
SearchEngineLand.com's Danny Sullivan was among the leading voices lamenting the plus-to-quotation marks change.
I can’t believe Google has done this. I use the + command all the time, especially in an age when more and more, Google constantly reshapes a search based on what it guesses a searcher wants, rather than what they entered.
The functionality is still there, which is a relief. But having to do a search like this:
mars +landings +failures
now like this:
mars “landings” “failures” is more complicated.
But Google was not keen on bringing "+" back. Google's Corin Anderson, principal engineer for search, said in a blog posting that users "typed the '+' operator in less than half a percent of all searches, and two thirds of the time, it was used incorrectly."
But because of the outcry, "we’ve received a lot of requests for a more deliberate way to tell Google to search using your exact terms. We’ve been listening," he wrote, and starting now users will be able to do that using verbatim search, which will be rolled out over the next few weeks:
With verbatim turned on, we'll use the literal words you entered without making normal improvements such as
- making automatic spelling corrections
- personalizing your search by using information such as sites you’ve visited before
- including synonyms of your search terms (matching “car” when you search [automotive])
- finding results that match similar terms to those in your query (finding results related to “floral delivery” when you search [flower shops])
- searching for words with the same stem like “running” when you’ve typed [run]
- making some of your terms optional, like “circa” in [the scarecrow circa 1963]
You can find "verbatim" under “More search tools” on the left-hand side of Google's search results, as shown in the screenshot above.