The Plus Sign No Longer Works In Google Searches


Google has long favoured results which include all your search terms, which means that using a plus sign doesn’t always make a huge difference, but it is still handy in contexts where Google assumes you meant something else or automatically expands abbreviations. However, as Google Operating System points out, the plus sign is now being ignored. If you want to force Google to search for a specific term, you have to put it inside quotation marks. It’s not a major nuisance, but it will require old hands to adjust their tactics. Fortunately, the minus sign to exclude specific terms or sites remains active.

Google’s Plus Operator, No Longer Available [Google Operating System]


  • Quotation marks don’t work either. If I put a phrase in quotes, Google still gives results that don’t include those words in that order.

    Google’s search illustrates why “do what I mean” technology can’t work till we have mind-reading hardware. Its search methods are designed to give us what they think we want, not what we say we want.

    • We don’t need mind reading search engines, we just need search engines that work. There’s no reason they can’t use wildcard characters, and ONLY return results that include the required words and exclude the forbidden words.

      That’s not rocket science, it’s been done for more than thirty years.

      Doing it in a microsecond going through gazillion web pages is what’s difficult, but the actual decision about what to present as results is very straight forward, and the only reason I can see for ignoring the many pages that fit the search, and displaying pages that do not, is some kind of money-making scheme google is doing, and they have no consideration about the user’s efforts.

  • I shot off an email to the “gods” at Google (aka teenagers with no fucking idea what they are doing).

    I was one of the original geeks who discovered Google in it’s “baby” years. it was fantastic, could finstuff that alta-vista and all the other search sites missed.

    Now, however,I find it intrusive. Google seems to want to dirext my searches to crap.

    So I picked up the + and – habit to fore Google to search for what I want rather tha the shit thwy pew up these days when the majoriity of the crap sites on the net know how dumb Goggle is at the moment and juat copy/paste a million search terms in the background color. Google obeys, reads them, and posts the site high in the list.

    They have never learned to + and – themseves.

    Now, we find that our only tool is fucked. + I want it, don’t piss me off with crap – i don’t want it.

    Example: +teenager +thailand (I’m a teacher)
    -sex -porn -blonde -boobs will kill most of the hype crap. I’m looking for business. Pure and simple, and i dont have a lot of free time.

    The “this is exactly what i want” signs had to be used very carefully. Of course you could say “”I live in Nevada”, but that excluded “My home town is in … nevada

    So you had to get into “I live in nevada” OR “my home town” +nevada and so on.

    With this latest change, Google is begiining to be irrelevant

    We need a new search engine that is
    a) Less greedy than Google has become
    b) Searches for exactly waht we want with minimum commands
    c) Explicitly.outlines any ads. I have no problem with ads that pay for my search, but don’t sneak them in, Put them in a big box called “ads”. Like most folks I have several credit cards. Give me an ad with a (short) line, and I MIGHT follow. Average for me is one buy for 100 good ad lines. If you take away the BAD buy lines, it drops to 1 in 100,000.

    The bottom line is that we need a new serxh engine.

    Google’s got too big for it’s boots. We made it. We can take it down.

    All it needs is an atrepeneur who wants to bleed Google. There are no patents in the way.

    It’ll need big bucks, but the slaughter is guaranteed. Google has lost it’s way. It needs to be taken out. Why prolong the inevitable?

    • We need Grep, with an option to pipe the entire Internet into it.

      Actually having “entire Internet” represented on the command line would be a great boost for lots of shell script hacking and what not. Let people write their own Google from query to query.

      Or the other, more boring way of doing it… have Google take regexps. I’m not sure if that would be even possible, the way it’s brain is rigged up. I get the idea that the hardware, network and software have all been designed and grown around each other.

  • I used to use + all the time to ensure I got to exactly what I wanted. I used ” ” lots too. I always impressed my friends who never used any operands on how much incredible stuff I could find. + and ” ” are far from being of the same utility.
    I have thought of leaving Google search before, but this is my last drop. I am going to be switching to a search engine which allows be to search for exactly what I want.

    I have noticed lately that I have to scroll down further and further to reach the results I am looking for, even with the Mozilla Google extension which removes all the side crap and stupid item scroll Google instituted recently.

    Goodbye Google.

    • Tracy wrote:

      “Goodbye Google.”

      .. haha, yeah right! Go back to Lycos why don’t you, I’ll be following straight behind. Or… er, are there actually any search engines still left? I preferred it when one had a choice, even though there was usually a best one, that the whole web-surfing crowd would follow in droves. Well, what droves there were back on the 20th Century Internet.

  • @Steve G — not exactly correct. It’s true that the + operator removed a lot of variants, but it also ensured that your term was actually in the pages that appeared in search results. Using the ” ” operator was not (and is not) a substitute, since Google still seems to include pages that don’t actually contain the term — specifically, pages that are linked to pages that contain the term and other such nonsense.

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