Google Subtracts Advanced Search + Operator

Google has made a change to the way advanced searches are done, much to the annoyance of numerous power users. Seems Google no longer is allowing use of the plus sign to indicate mandated inclusion in the search result offerings. In Query Refinements, the Plus (+) Operator has been removed.

google-plus-operator-replaced

Google now tells users "to search for an exact word or phrase, use double quotation markers" - but this has left many users questioning why. Why remove a Boolean search operator seems to be the popular question. Google is leaving the minus sign, so dropping the ying to the others yang is discordant.

Kelly Fee, a Search Community Manager who tried to answer a question in Google Web Search Help, gets some flack for not fully answering the questions or concerns. After selecting her answer as "Best", people were still shooting more requests for qualifications.

To which she replied "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."

JohnALT2 was just one of a number pointing out problems with the change:

"Kelly,
Please, a clear explanation needed for Google's and Google users' benefit.

I feel unable to properly assess this as there is only partial information provided.

1) Where's the link to the detailed change explanation? (important)

2) Precisely how does "inquotes" behavior differ from before?

3) How will searching [abc def ghi] differ from ["abc" "def" "ghi"]

4) Is '+' operator being retained as a non-promoted legacy/compatibility operator?

5) If not, why? (e.g. is there a new function planned for the '+')

Also will precise "" search now be precise? (e.g. "abc=" not return results for [abc] or [abc.com])

There may be a lot of miss-informed complaints due to lack of information provided. Though I suspect that most of the worries may be confirmed.

Personally, unless the existing "+" is retained as a valid functional operator, even if not listed, then I can neither see the benefit nor the sense in it unless logic AND (must include) becomes the default behavior and the "+" in [+abc +def] is ignored without error."

There were even mentions of it having something to do with the use of plus sign in Google+, Google's social product.

Regardless of why, people he use hacks when search now have to study the new method and the workarounds for things not covered.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.