Google Verbatim

Google announced the demise of the ‘+’ operator a few weeks ago.  The new Verbatim tool supposedly replaces the ‘+’ search operator to get exact terms users search for.

To switch on the verbatim search tool,  go to “2. More search tools” in the column on the left side of the screen.

Verbatim is not the same as the unary operator ‘+’.  In a unary operation, in a mathematical system, one element is used to yield a single result. Verbatim forces all terms to be searched “verbatim” not just one term. Verbatim searches also switch-off some of the standard corrections. Sometimes this hinders your search. According to SearchEngineLand, Verbatim searches without the following:

  • 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]

If you want to conduct a search where one word is misspelled, but the other is correct, and you also want synonyms, stemming, etc., then you can’t use verbatim unless you put the required word in double quotes.  This will make searching for misspelled names (the “27 Mohammeds problem”) along with other search terms more difficult.

Verbatim may help limit the impact of “personalisation” that makes some searches difficult in Google, but the loss of functionality isn’t worth the gain in my opinion.

If as Google insists, it dropped the + operator because it wasn’t used, then I shall begin worrying about search operators such as intitle, allintitle, ~, *, – and other advanced search features that make Google my first choice.