Google: Less Than .17% Of Searches Used ‘+’ Correctly, But Here’s Verbatim

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Know exactly what you’re searching for on Google? It’s now a bit easier to find it.

Google is constantly doing things to automatically tweak your queries — it’ll swap in common synonyms, correct spelling, omitting certain terms that might not be necessary, and so on. Most of the time these tweaks are helpful, but occasionally they can get in the way. It’s long been possible to search with just what you entered with some advanced search operators, and now there’s a streamlined way to do it.

Today, Google is announcing a simpler way to do this: a ‘Verbatim’ option under its search tools in the left sidebar. It does what you’d expect: run a query with Verbatim on, and you’ll get results for whatever you had in the search box.

Google has allowed you to craft these verbatim queries for many years by appending a ‘+’ sign before any specific term you wanted to search for (in other words, it wouldn’t look for any synonyms, spelling corrections, or related terms). But Google killed off the + operator so that it could use it to create a feature for Google+ called Direct Connect (you can read more about that right here).

Google’s decision to axe the old ‘+’ operator angered plenty of long-time Google users, but in its post today Google writes that it was used in less than half a percent of all searches, and even then, it was used wrong two thirds of the time (i.e. less than .167% were actually using them right). The Verbatim feature will likely be used by a lot more people, and it’s harder to mess up.

And if you prefer the old way — which let you specify certain terms to look for verbatim while still leaving others open to Google’s search logic — you can accomplish the same thing by wrapping each verbatim term in quotes, “like this”.