From the post:
The “+” operator used to mean “required” to Google, I think. But it also meant “and exactly that word is required, not an alternate form.” I think? Maybe it always was just a synonym for double quotes, and never meant ‘required’? Or maybe double quotes mean ‘required’ too?
I’m not entirely sure that the quotes will actually insist on the quoted word being present in the page? Can anyone find a counter-example?
I had actually noticed a while ago that the google advanced search page had stopped providing any fields that resulted in “+”, and was suggesting double quotes for “exactly this form of word” (not variants), rather than “phrase”. Exactly what given operators (and bare searches) do has continually evolved over time, and isn’t always documented or reflected in the “search tips” page or “advanced search” screen.
The post is a good example of using the Internet Archive to research the prior state of the web.
BTW, the comments and discussion on this were quite amusing. “Kelly Fee,” a Google employee had these responses to questions about removal of the “+” operator:
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.
If you read the comments, having a simple search experience wasn’t the goal of most users. Finding relevant information was.
Kelly reassures users they are being heard, but ignored:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I especially appreciate everyone’s passion for search operators (if only every Google Search user were aware of these tools like you are…).
One thing I’d like to add to my original post is that, as with any change we make to our search engine, we put a lot of thought into this modification, but we’re always interested in user feedback.
I hope that you’ll continue to give us feedback in the future so that we can make your experience on Google more enjoyable.
After a number of posts on the lost of function by elimination of the “+” operator, Kelly creatively mis-hears the questions and comes up with an example that works.
I just tested out the quotes operator to make sure that it still works for phrases and it does. I searched for [from her eyes] and then [“from her eyes”] and got different results. I also tried [from her “eye”] and [from her eye] and got different results for each query, which is how it is intended to work.
Many people understand that putting quotes around a phrase tells a search engine to search for that exact phrase. This change applies that same idea to a specific word.
Would it help to know that Kelly Fee was a gymnast?