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Google Restores Verbatim Search For Exact Results

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Users conducting web searches using literal words can now opt for the Google verbatim search option

Google has brought back a function that will allow users to search for results using the literal words they type into the search box.

The search engine provider used to enable this capability through the + operator, which searchers could preface search queries with, in order to ensure that results would include the exact term. For example, a search executed as “Google launches +Android Market” would include the term Android Market in all results.

+ Confusion?

Yet Google did away with this operator in October, noting that users use the + operator in less than half a percent of all searches, and when they did use it, they used it incorrectly. Google also uses the + operator in its Google+ social network to call out or mention users within the network, which may have something to do with the change.

What Google did is replace the + operator with the double quotation marks operator — “”. So get the same results in the example above, a user would have to render Android Market as “Android Market” within the larger query.

Users who had grown fond of the Boolean + operator cried foul. Google Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts said on Twitter he would look into the issue, which Google Operating System detailed well.

Going forward, when users select the verbatim search tool under the “more search tools” refinement in the left-hand rail of Google search results, Google will use the literal words users type into the search box without making its “normal improvements.”

These improvements include automatic spelling corrections; personalising search by using information such as previously visited websites; using synonyms of search terms; finding results that match similar terms to those in your query; searching for words with the same stem; making some terms optional.

Ongoing Tweaks

“In addition to verbatim search, which will be rolling out to all users over the next few days, we’re also applying similar ideas directly to our algorithms, such as tuning the accuracy of when our query broadening search improvements trigger,” explained Corin Anderson, a principal engineer for Google search, in a blog post.

Verbatim search is the latest tweak Google has made to tune its search engine, which is under scrutiny for the Federal Trade Commission, US Congress and the European Commission.

Other changes include serving fresher results for 35 percent of queries, including those that feature hot trends, current events or recurring events.

Google also increased page content and decreased header and menu content for its search snippets, extended rich snippets for applications, and improved the way its finds official web pages.