Why Google Ditched The + Operator

Some time in late October 2011 Google ditched the + search operator, used to search for an exact keyword or phrase as part of a query.

Many SEO’s had to switch to using quotation marks rather than +

For example +WordPress was now “WordPress”

A Google employee posted on the forums the reason for this:

We’re streamlining the ways you can tell Google to search for the exact keywords you type, whether it’s an exact phrase or a single word, by focusing on the functionality of the quotation marks operator. So, if in the past you would have searched for [magazine +latina], you should now search for [magazine “latina”] to get the same results.

Last night I was searching for a post containing the phrase WordPress, out of habit I occasionally enter the + rather than quotation marks and my search return the following results, incorporating Google Plus pages in the Google Search Suggest/Google Autocomplete (I’m not signed in to my Google Account):

Google Plus Autocomplete WOR

So, what’s the impact? It looks like this is another one of Google’s tests, so negligible. If this is rolled out then registering a keyword rich Google Plus page may be a legitimate way to capturing additional search traffic.

More screenshots below:

Google Plus Autocomplete G

Google Plus Autocomplete GA