fleddr 7 days ago

Please now also improve search results without quotes. When I query a b c (without quotes) I want results exclusively containing all 3 words, not just one or two of them. There's a reason I typed it.

Next, remove content thieves like Pinterest entirely from the index.

Next, invest in recency + relevancy over just page reputation. A huge amount of high value recent content is written but it keeps losing against much worse old content which only ranks because it's old. As the typical example: the 15 year old Stackoverflow jQuery answer.

Invest in location awareness. Including location in your query gives laughable results.

Find a way to down rank sites gaming particular categories with shady tactics.

  • DamnInteresting 7 days ago

    > Next, invest in recency + relevancy over just page reputation.

    Counterpoint: Google already gives priority to recency, and it heavily rewards "flip shop" sites that essentially plagiarize existing content. The original researchers/authors who did the leg work get buried in lazy rewrites.

    • cpif 7 days ago

      Not only is the content on these "flip shop" sites lazy and plagiarized, it seems to have a high signal-to-noise ratio. The answer to a simple question is buried under unnecessary prefatory material. ("If you have ever wondered about changing your desktop wallpaper, you are not alone. Many people wonder about changing their desktop wallpaper...")

      Due credit is not the only thing misplaced; the author who did the legwork is also, by virtue of their legitimate interest in their subject, a better prose stylist. Interesting, readable writing has to be more relevant to a search query than what the content farm produces.

      • Naracion 6 days ago

        This is tangential, but threw me off a little bit. These sites have a _low_ signal to noise ratio. A high ratio would mean that there's more "signal" than "noise", which is the opposite of the argument you're making (which I agree with).

      • JHer 6 days ago

        Do you mean a _low_ signal-to-noise ratio?

        • solarkraft 6 days ago

          For Google it's actually high. It seems like they still fall victim to repeating the words over and over (Method 1 for changing your desktop wallpaper: Changing your desktop wallpaper is easy using this quick method, it will quickly allow you to change your desktop wallpaper ...).

    • johnmaguire 7 days ago

      Or how about how every single reddit post, according to Google, is from this year. Then you click it and find out its 10 years old.

      I assume this is reddit trying to game the recency metric.

      • throwamon 7 days ago

        I can't tell if it's incompetence or malice, but this happened after the redesign. I think it's caused by the presence of recent posts from the "more posts" section.

        Another consequence of the redesign, much worse than useless dates, is that you get completely useless results just because the same "related post" (the title of which Google happens to deem "relevant") appears over and over again at the bottom of different pages.

        To get around this you can search for "site:old.reddit.com" or "site:i.reddit.com". One downside is you get fewer results.

        • hbn 7 days ago

          I dread the day reddit stops letting you opt out of the redesign. It's absolutely unusable and hasn't improved at all since launch.

          • chalupa-man 7 days ago

            Check out an alternate web client, like https://github.com/spikecodes/libreddit. Even compared to the old design it's much more lightweight and clean, and compared to the redesign it makes 1/4 as many HTTP requests, uses 1/20th the CPU, 1/4 the memory, and 1/2 the bandwidth, doesn't require an account to subscribe to subs, can work as pure static HTML, and doesn't track anything. I have poor Internet and the difference is night and day.

          • ss108 7 days ago

            Yeah, what is up with that? It is unquestionably trash, and they simply aren't doing anything about it. The fact that they have an opt out means they acknowledge that a substantial number of users hate it.

            • louky 7 days ago

              Presumably plenty of people are fine with it and arewatching tons of ads and buying those absurd awards. I've been using old.Reddit and RiF app only forever, if that API goes so shall I.

            • boring_twenties 6 days ago

              Their existing users might hate it, but the new users they want won't accept anything else.

          • citrusybread 7 days ago

            yet from their point of view it probably improved the product -- how many viewers get suckered into watching an endless stream of content mixed in with ads.

      • elliekelly 7 days ago

        I’ve noticed a similar thing with news articles. I’ll search $breakingNewsItem and see an article that was supposedly written yesterday, before the news was even news! Likewise I can search $ongoingNewsItem and click an article that Google says is “1 hour” (or sometimes even “10 minutes”!) old only to follow the link and see that it was actually published a week ago.

  • swyx 7 days ago

    Pinterest and Linkedin are the top culprits for rug-pulling search interest - they blatantly display different results to Googlebot than to humans. If I cant see the result you linked to without logging in, it shouldnt match on your search index.

    The open web made you rich, please help keep it open.

    • Jaruzel 7 days ago

      Google explicitly say that you shouldn't present different results to googlebot than you would to normal users, and doing so would get your site down ranked...

      Funny how they don't seem to actually enforce that rule on the big guys gaming the index...

    • mathattack 7 days ago

      Amen on Pinterest. I wish there was a profile setting to add that never included them in my results.

      • newsuser 7 days ago

        You can use the UBlacklist addon to achieve that.

  • superbaconman 7 days ago

    I don't know... Recency sucks when searching for news related stuff. It feels next to impossible to look into the history of news commentary on any given topic.

    • rzwitserloot 7 days ago

      Google search has a feature to restrict your search to a specific period, such as 'only stuff that showed up in the last year'. I can foresee google semi-intelligently figuring out it's a news search and giving you recent stuff in that case. As long as explicitly selecting a search period completely disables any 'recency' filtering, that seems fine to me.

      I also wish it was possible to be very specific with the recency selector. I want to be able to say: I want to search for stuff that showed up in this month 5 years ago, because I know it was news then.

    • Taylor_OD 7 days ago

      You can add date ranges. I do this a lot.

    • phpisthebest 7 days ago
      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        If there's something newsy, we show recent stories because that's often helpful. If you want to older content, we have time range options. Check out before/after: https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1115706765088182272

        • emmelaich 7 days ago

          Date range is great, but unfortunately it can fail when for instance old newspaper stories still have recent news in the sidebar. Google will include those recent updates as belonging to the date of the old story.

          • dannysullivan 4 days ago

            It can happen. We keep working on improving in these cases, and we do give newspapers guidance on things they should consider to help avoid it.

  • YPPH 7 days ago

    As a non-American, I find Google's location awareness is already unmatched. It's what keeps me using Google over the alternatives. Googling a thing (business, place, location) near my house will give it as the first search result. The alternatives will often give me the title of something in the US.

    • etherealG 7 days ago

      I have the exact opposite experience. Living in France for 8 years means basically assuming the usual french mass media rhetoric or the English one.

  • dannysullivan 7 days ago

    By default, we (I work for Google Search). do tend to look for all the words indicated. It's just that sometimes, what seems to be the most relevant documents won't have all the exact words. If you want results exclusively to contain words, that's what the quotes command is for.

    • Jaygles 7 days ago

      > It's just that sometimes, what seems to be the most relevant documents won't have all the exact words

      As a user I would prefer to be the judge of what is relevant. If the results aren't what I'm looking for, then I'll modify the query until they are.

      Having the search engine make these opaque decisions on what it thinks I meant to search makes it feel like playing a game of Peggle, where I have no idea if what I'm going for will be what I get.

      • mattarm 7 days ago

        > As a user I would prefer to be the judge of what is relevant. If the results aren't what I'm looking for, then I'll modify the query until they are.

        Funny you should mention that workflow, because Google highly values reducing the number of times users have to do that kind of iteration. If they can work out what you actually mean and give you that first time, they count it as a win and stick with that approach.

        > Having the search engine make these opaque decisions on what it thinks I meant to search makes it feel like playing a game of Peggle, where I have no idea if what I'm going for will be what I get.

        I think on average this kind of "semantic search" works out for the better, for most people, most of the time.

        I tend to like precise results too, but I often appreciate Google applying its "magic," so I'm not sure Google running in a "all magic suppressed" mode by default would be better. E.g. I recently searched for help with an issue I'm having with my refrigerator. I searched for "Samsung BLAHBLAHBLAH drawer freezing" where BLAHBLAHBLAH was my fridge's model number. The search results included stuff for other similar Samsung refrigerators, which are all very similar, so the results were quite relevant to my problem.

        • ryanianian 7 days ago

          > The search results included stuff for other similar Samsung refrigerators, which are all very similar, so the results were quite relevant to my problem.

          Yes, but sometimes it's explicitly NOT relevant. Different models differ.

          What's infuriating is that searching for "Samsung MODELFOO drawer" IN QUOTES doesn't even return the right thing. The spam bots win this race nearly every time. TFA gives several reasons but doesn't address the core issue that searching for something in quotes often only shows unrelated garbage that just happened to be SEOd to hell. To beat this "new solution", a page needs just to include a bunch of pixel images with all the samsung models in the alt text.

        • ajnin 7 days ago

          > I think on average this kind of "semantic search" works out for the better, for most people, most of the time.

          Let's say that maybe before this "magic" was introduced, people needed to refine their search a few times but eventually got what they needed. But now, the majority gets a relevant result on the first time, but a few percent of searches don't go anywhere because you can't find a way to trick the AI and people eventually give up. You've improved your average metric, but arguably the search is worse since a few cases fail completely, when before they took just a bit more effort.

      • BeetleB 7 days ago

        It's very interesting to read the responses to dannysullivan.

        HN users need to understand: You are not a representative demographic. If they include results that only include words you typed, Google search will objectively degrade for the majority of non-HN folks. Even I sometimes find what I'm looking for because I didn't know the correct words, but Google presented me with docs with words of similar meaning.

        As dannysullivan pointed out, Google is providing you with the tools to do what you want: Just put the words in quotes if it really, really has to include it.

        My beef with Google is it returns too many results. I get that by including similar words in the results we'll dramatically increase the number, but I really shouldn't get 1M results for many things I type. Anything after the first 100 or so is almost always completely irrelevant to what I was searching for.

        • Jaygles 7 days ago

          I fully appreciate the fact that my ideal Google is not the majority's ideal Google. I hope my original comment doesn't come across as wanting Google to serve me more than others. I just wanted to add my perspective, and maybe provide evidence that there is a market for a search engine that is more raw.

          • BeetleB 7 days ago

            > I just wanted to add my perspective, and maybe provide evidence that there is a market for a search engine that is more raw.

            In this particular case, perhaps just providing your own frontend that transforms the input to what you need with the settings you need probably will suffice. So make a form where this string:

                 Python aphorisms
            is sent to Google as:

                 "Python" "aphorisms"
      • colinmhayes 7 days ago

        Well google has a billion users, they’re not just optimizng for what you want. Their tests have shown that people generally prefer relevant pages over all three words so that’s what they show, but they’ve decided to include the quote command for people like you.

        • Jaygles 7 days ago

          My original comment does not insinuate that Google should cater to me at the expense of others. I'm hoping just to provide one data point that there is a segment of users who are under-served with the currently available search engines.

    • fleddr 7 days ago

      "what seems to be the most relevant documents won't have all the exact words"

      In which case it isn't relevant. I typed those words for a reason, any result not containing all three is not relevant by definition.

      • rzwitserloot 7 days ago

        I can accept google search doing some trickery where it goes: Okay, I found nothing, or the few things I found seemed irrelevant, however, if I replace one of your words with something similar, or e.g. I take this one word you wrote and stick a space in between (not arbitrarily, also based on 'I observe that this one word is usually typed as two words in all the pages I scanned) - then I do get results.

        In other words, not a blanket 'the results for this query suck, but if I just stick my fingers in my ears and completely ignore one your words I get much nicer results so why don't I show you those?' - but a more intelligent presumption.

        With, of course, the option to force the search to show specifically what you exactly searched for with no such helpful alternatives applied.

        • normac2 7 days ago

          I think what you described is what they already have with the "including results for [similar wording]" version of the results page. They also have a link to see the exact results.

          However, as of right now they only offer it for actual typos/spelling mistakes (like your example with the missing space) as opposed to semantically similar wordings.

      • jrmg 7 days ago

        I definitely appreciate synonyms (which I may not otherwise consider, or at best have to think of one by one) and plurals being included by default.

    • thrwyoilarticle 7 days ago

      Goodhart's law in action. If the most relevant doc doesn't include all terms but there are docs that do, the 'relevant' metric is wrong.

      I understand eliding articles and pronouns but when I'm searching for an exact string or you just completely ignore whole subjects and objects - what?

      • colinmhayes 7 days ago

        When you’re searching for an exact string you should use quotes…

        • thrwyoilarticle 6 days ago

          I shouldn't have to

          • colinmhayes 6 days ago

            Google has a billion users. Most of them don’t want the same things you want.

    • dangerface 7 days ago

      > It's just that sometimes, what seems to be the most relevant documents won't have all the exact words.

      It may seem relevant to google but it's not to its users this is why people are upset. If the result was relevant no one would care that it didn't have the keyword, please listen to your users.

  • systemvoltage 7 days ago

    All this hostility to users in last few years is because of $$$.

    Google should just have a developer/engineer/expert mode that shows results using 2012 algorithms. I don’t mind paying $5/month in exchange.

    • trebbble 7 days ago

      '07. It went to hell in '08 or '09. That's when my much-remarked-upon search skills became entirely useless, because you could no longer direct the search engine with any precision.

      • erichocean 6 days ago

        Hey Google, you could get an extra $60/year from me if you offered the 2007 search engine as an option.

        Not kidding.

    • braindead_in 7 days ago

      I'll happily pay for filtering the search result with GPT3 or LAmDA.

  • estensen 4 days ago

    Staying in Italy for a while I got Italian ads (and I don't speak Italian), and was also often redirected to Italian pages when I explicitly wanted the English version. For example, looking up an error code for my watch I was redirected to the Italian product page for the watch instead of the forum with the answer I wanted.

    I guess a VPN could be a workaround, but does the average Joe know what a VPN is?

  • nurettin 5 days ago

    20 years ago, search results were controlled via + and - prefixes. +typography -cat means "I want typography to be present im the results, but cat is not allowed". I checked and they still seem to work.

  • paintman252 7 days ago

    Wow, Google search sucks but first three tips is horrible advice. Like it would only make it worse

  • russh 5 days ago

    I would like a way to maintain a list of sites I never want to see in my search results.

binwiederhier 7 days ago

This is fascinating. Not because of the content of this article, but because it's the first glimpse behind the Google Search curtain that I've ever seen in an official Google post. You rarely see details about search explained. Or maybe I'm just ignorant.

Even that bit about "don't" being turned into "don t" was interesting. Again, not because I was amazed in any way. More so because Search has been so mysterious for many years.

  • joelthelion 7 days ago

    I also find it very interesting to hear them say that they're listening to user feedback. Perhaps the years of outrage are finally paying off.

    • moultano 7 days ago

      I work on Google search, and have been posting in threads about it for quite some time here taking feedback, asking for examples to debug, and passing them on when I get them.

      • horsawlarway 7 days ago

        If you're here taking feedback: This is sincerely my number one desire -

        Please let me turn on verbatim mode and leave it enabled. Ideally across my google account, but I'd settle for just that device/application.

        • ratww 7 days ago

          I would also love that.

          One request from me would be for them to bring back the + operator and favour it instead of quotes, since Google Plus integration doesn't seem to be a thing anymore.

          • moultano 7 days ago

            Honestly I think using quotes for that is probably better, even though + was a bit less typing. You wouldn't believe how many people search for [tar -xvf] and are confused as to why none of their search results contain the string xvf. It's hard to come up with operators that are easy to type and will never collide with their normal meaning in language, and I think quotation marks work much better for that than + did.

            • MerelyMortal 6 days ago

              How about foo -"bar" to search for foo without bar?

            • ratww 7 days ago

              That's a good point. Quotes are definitely better for some cases.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            I explained elsewhere that it's very unlikely to come back because we actually do try to match + in queries now for thing like international phone numbers, and also as someone else noted, there's any number of names that make use of it (Disney+ for example).

            • solarkraft 6 days ago

              That's actually a change I appreciate. I'm delighted short words and characters don't just get dropped unseen anymore.

        • Karellen 7 days ago

          I've been thinking about this.

          How about a heuristic of: If the user phrases their search as a natural language query ("what is...?", "how do I...", etc...) then use whatever weird relevancy metrics and search word substitution your research suggests will answer the question best. OTOH, if the user appears to phrase their search as just a list of keywords, search for all the words verbatim.

          They already do query classification for things like Google Calculator. Extending the classifier to switch between "natural language query" and "strict keyword search" seems like a reasonable extension of that idea.

          • horsawlarway 6 days ago

            Ok - I totally understand the intent, but NOOOOOOOO!!!! (or more clearly: I have no problem with them trying this, but it doesn't solve my use case)

            The entire reason I ask is because I don't want google to try to interpret my search query and change it - I don't want it to guess what I'm looking for using [insert classifier of choice] - I want it to do as close to a text scan for the exact search query as I can get.

            Inconsistent tools are much harder to use. I really don't want to have to play a cat and mouse game with my search tool, and I don't want to have to have memorized all the "games" google is playing with my query and understand how to turn them off.

      • Fabricio20 7 days ago

        While we have you here, can you guys take a look at why the Google Cache feature is very hard to find nowadays? It's almost as if most big sites don't have an option to see the cached version, and even when they do, finding the "Cached" button on desktop seems impossible, this started happening ever since the "More :" menu got redesigned (to show "about this result"), the cached button just isn't there sometimes. (Ex: Amazon).

        • groffee 6 days ago

          Even better is when they do show the 'cache' button but don't actually have anything cached, so if the site is down their 'cache' is broken. They think users are too stupid to notice.

      • katbyte 7 days ago

        Please remove Pinterest, or at least lower their relevancy. So often when searching for images the are higher up then the source page the Pinterest image is from and don’t link back to it.

      • aantix 7 days ago

        Why isn't there a reasonably priced Google Search API?

        Besides being overpriced, the last I checked, the results returned for the custom search didn't reflect what was returned from the normal search product.

      • nradov 7 days ago

        Remove the recency bias, or at least allow users to permanently disable it. There is no correlation between content age and quality.

        Allow users to permanently remove trash sites like Pinterest from all their search results on both web and mobile.

      • Der_Einzige 7 days ago

        I remember you and other from Google search trying to gaslight us in the comments, claiming that there was no problems with quotes.

        No problems huh? Why does this article exist? Lol the hubris at Google...

        • moultano 7 days ago

          The article describes UX changes to make it clearer that quotes are working as designed.

      • solarkraft 6 days ago

        Thanks for doing so! Are you doing it in an official capacity (i.e. wait ... do they actually care? google? talking to users?!?)?

        Maybe this is my chance to repeat something I asked the DuckDuckGo CEO today (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32366664): Are you doing anything about SEO spam?

        It seems like Google often rewards low quality results: Sites with tons of ads or where I'm being shilled to buy a product that I'm looking for information on because I already have it. It's so bad that I've half-concluded it's due to misaligned incentives - keeping the user looking at the search results keeps Google collecting ad revenue and steering users to crappy sites full of ads also keeps Google collecting ad revenue.

      • d0100 7 days ago

        I want to be able to search with wildcard POS and synonyms

        Person <verbs> blue chair

        Should return any text where someone does something to a blue chair (and it's synonyms or similars)

      • Geonode 7 days ago

        Please put image search back the way it was. Are the lawyers really afraid of Getty? Just buy them. :)

        • Kye 7 days ago

          I don't think the Getty family is hurting for money. Getty Images is likely a prestige business for them.

    • yccs27 7 days ago

      Or maybe they realize people are starting to leave for DuckDuckGo etc. because Google no longer has better results.

      • sirius87 7 days ago

        If we are speculating why Google is now caring to pay attention to user reports, I strongly feel such things usually precede a wave of user monetization.

        I would not be surprised if the ads situation gets worse or some other egregious action takes place, as if to say, "Remember how we fixed search results for you? Well, here's how we plan to pay for it".

        • sdoering 7 days ago

          > Well, here's how we plan to pay for it.

          I would change one little word:

          Well, here's how we plan _you_ pay for it.

      • joaogui1 7 days ago

        Not just DDG, there has been an increase in search engine startups, some with pretty well-known people taking the lead, that probably got them worried

        • rr888 7 days ago

          Any good ones? I'd love to experiment.

          • mminer237 7 days ago

            Brave Search is quite good. They basically trained their model to give the same results as Google, but they give prioritized sections to real discussions. Plus they have a cool goggles experiment.

            Mojeek is hit or miss, but occasionally does better than Google.

            I haven't really used it myself, but I've heard good things about Kagi.

          • maronato 7 days ago

            Kagi has been pretty great in my experience

            • gabrielgio 7 days ago

              I started using as a test drive (as I have been a happy DDG user before that). I really like the fact that there is no ad, I can easily rank the pages or even block them (be gone w3schools) and ultimately I don't ever have to go to google anymore. The result are quite solid, even for local non-english searches which DDG struggles a bit.

            • Johnythree 7 days ago

              Very much This. It's good that google is now doing a panic because of Kargi.

              Too little, too late. Pity they didn't listen years ago.

            • rr888 7 days ago

              Ooof you have to pay? I guess I can't complain about ads any more. I'll try it out.

      • permo-w 7 days ago

        after a few weeks of trying all the different (free) options, I found that anything longer than 3 keywords and Google is the only option. duckduckgo doesn’t even have [consistently working] quote search

      • felipemnoa 7 days ago

        Personally I find myself using bing more. Nothing against google search, but a lot of times I just cannot find what I need in google so I go over to bing to see if I have better luck. Sometimes I do. Although, google search is still better, for now.

      • sh4rks 7 days ago

        I sometimes find that duckduckgo has better results than Google for a particular query, and other times it's the opposite.

        I wish there was a way to aggregate the two results together.

      • russellbeattie 7 days ago

        Google defines what good search results are. Any company trying to compete with them is just tilting at windmills. They'll always be a step behind, forever. "Hey, why does Google show me x and DDG doesn't?", "Why is it so hard to find x on DDG, it's on the first page of Google." Etc. It will never be the reverse for 99% of users.

        And face it, for all its flaws, Google's index is larger, it has more servers, has way more signals to use - including its own web browser, DNS and ads - more money to spend and actual computer scientists who've been banging away at the problem for decades. Bing is just Microsoft's way of siphoning off some search revenues from the most technically illiterate users who don't know better and never change their defaults on their Windows box they bought at Walmart. MS has zero incentive to improve the results.

        DDG is a cute little boutique web site. Good for them. But their impact on Google Search is so small as to be non-existent.

        • Beldin 7 days ago

          That used to be the case. It's why they rose to dominance (that and the "no extra crap on the page"). Nowadays, Google's search results are pretty meuh. However, the domain has become much more adversarial with many companies devoted to manipulating search results for a fee. Not sure, perhaps "meuh" is the best we can hope for nowadays.

          If a service can consistently deliver good results on the first page (like Google used to, 20-odd years ago), they could definitely dethrone Google. Of course, the moment that appears to be the case, all SEO spammers start focusing on the new rival and the newcomer's job becomes a lot harder.

          • permo-w 7 days ago

            google results seem meh when you compare them to google results. go and try and use duckduckgo or brave search for anything more than basic one or two keyword searches, and you’ll be back to google like a shot

            • eino 7 days ago

              That's just not true. I switched from google at least two years ago (first to cliqz now DDG), and haven't looked back ever since. And I run pretty technical queries. When I try google again, it's not better, and many times it's worse.

              • cassianoleal 7 days ago

                I've been setting DDG as my default search engine on all browsers for at least 4 or 5 years.

                Sometimes I get terrible results and add a !g to my search query to see if le gouglè gives me something better. Almost every time it's just as bad. Usually because of SEO crap.

              • permo-w 7 days ago

                lack of quote search is a huge downside for me

            • cycomanic 7 days ago

              When was the last time you tried. It is somewhat topic dependent but I've been using brave for a couple of month and have not missed any (except for significantly less content farm results). I sometimes revert back to Google, but at the same time I also used other engines for better results when on Google.

              • permo-w 5 days ago

                I tried a couple of weeks ago. my conclusions were solidly in favour of google, despite reluctance on privacy concerns

                I felt that for technical searches past a certain number of keywords (2 or 3), ddg and brave tend to lose focus where google doesn’t, a problem exacerbated by the lack of quote search on either

                google also much better answers local questions, like “[supermarket] [location] opening times”, and indexes wikipedia more usefully, plus ten other integrated features you don’t miss until they’re gone (e.g. imdb)

                I didn’t notice a change in SEO spam between the alternatives. I would imagine brave have made an effort here, but as far as I know, duckduckgo filters their content less than google does

                finally, brave lacks maps, which is incredibly annoying

                • richardsocher 4 days ago

                  Would love to hear from you if we succeeded with both at you.com - we've worked a bunch on these issues you outline.

            • hulahoof 7 days ago

              I find DDG to be better than anything other than finding local stores, but I just use (google) maps for that anyway.

        • roelschroeven 7 days ago

          I started using DDG a number of years ago out of principle, even though its search results were clearly worse than Google's (but still mostly acceptable). Quite often I fell back to Google to get better results.

          After a while, things started to change. I don't feel the need to fall back to Google nearly as often anymore, and when I do I'm very unhappy with the results from Google. They're often worse than what I get from DDG.

          YMMV of course. And yes, DDG's impact on Google Search is probably negligible, but market share is often only verly lightly related to quality.

          • russellbeattie 7 days ago

            Good morning! Always fun to come back and see a pretty straightforward comment getting downvoted to oblivion. :-)

            To be clear, I wasn't saying the current state of affairs was a good thing, I was simply stating in detail that Google is still a gargantuan machine. Unless a competitor is somehow able to fire a couple of torpedoes down a hidden exhaust port, they're all going to be outgunned for the foreseeable future. But sure, the unpredictable vagaries of public sentiment could somehow turn against them, I guess. I mean, it's going to be a while. Their company name is a verb.

        • pschuegr 7 days ago

          Yeah, I'm going to have to disagree with you on that. I was part of the Kagi beta test and I think the results were on average better than Google, and not just for lack of ads. I'm not a Google hater either, but their systems are just not as far in front as they used to be.

          • russellbeattie 7 days ago

            What's the fundamental rule to get users to switch products or services? Answer: 10x.

            When a competitor's results are 10 times better than Google's - not a little better, or sometimes better, or better if you add a special character to your search, or subjectively better based on your personal preference, but an actual order of magnitude better - then and only then will Google even begin to start worrying about its dominant position in search.

            "But Russ," I can hear you say, "How can a search result be 10x better? That's a straw man. What does it even mean to be 'better'? Faster? More accurate? More contextual? More personal? More predictive? Less spam? More niche sites? Less niche sites? More photos? More videos? More news? Less photos? Less videos? Less news? More languages? Less languages? More international? More local? More convenient? More customizable? How can you even measure something like that?"


            • andrelaszlo 7 days ago

              For me, not feeling spied on was the big part and the search results were also much more consistent and less frustrating. The final parts were the ads, and that I simply try to avoid Google products. 10x sounds like a lot but for me personally Kagi is probably like 30x when you take all the factors into consideration.

            • erichocean 6 days ago

              > but an actual order of magnitude better

              Well, when you can't get the result on Google no matter how you finesse your query, but you can get it on another search engine, is that infinity better?

              Because that's the situation.

        • joelthelion 7 days ago

          Disagree. I use DDG because I'm frustrated with Google search results. And granted, sometimes Google is better, so I just add "!g" to my query and let DDG redirect me to Google.

          • permo-w 7 days ago

            for me I’d be very happy to just use google through a proxy service. google now hides images and maps behind a cookie consent page, so if you’ve got their cookies blocked, you can’t access then

        • wrp 7 days ago

          Have to disagree. I've tried DDG and was never impressed enough to switch from Google, but I have found Yandex to increasingly give better curated results, especially for stuff originating in Europe. Bing has also gotten much better, but I don't find it adds anything to Yandex+Google.

          • cycomanic 7 days ago

            Sorry, but as critical as I'm of Google I'm not going to exchange it for a Russian propaganda instrument.

        • bambax 7 days ago

          I agree with you, but I also think that it's bad that they are unbeatable. It can only lead to complacency and monopolist behavior.

          I think as a society we need to think what it means to have one private company control access to all information.

          • russellbeattie 7 days ago

            Thanks. I don't think it's a good thing either. Was just pointing out that their dominance is pretty unassailable.

        • spaniard89277 7 days ago

          Maybe, I'm fine over here though, using both ddg and brave search

  • ma2rten 7 days ago

    There was an excellent talk from Jeff Dean a while back which went into a lot of detail.

    • plq 7 days ago

      Can you share a link to this specific one? He seems to be a pretty active speaker.

      • mrazomor 7 days ago

        Probably this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-3Ahy7Fxsc

        Or this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=modXC5IWTJI (terrible audio)

        Both are very old, but extremely well aged.

        IMO, the secret behind Google Search is not the smartness of the algorithms, but how much of it is baked in those O(100ms) which takes Google machines to answer your query. That's why the links above are the true reason Google Search performs well.

        Natural Language Processing and Information Retrieval state of the art is far beyond what Google/Bing/Yahoo/Yandex/Baidu employ. But, it's far too expensive to serve it at QPS & latency required for decent UX.

        • 12907835202 7 days ago

          I'd be super interested in a higher quality delayed search. Just each day you could go and look at your search queries from the day before and it would list any better results it found with more time.

          Then again maybe i'm underestimating how often I don't know exactly what I'm looking for and just grab the first result.

        • supernova87a 7 days ago

          Hi, would you know if there are any good explanations on whether Google searches (or in general the search strategy) say, creates a general search result for any given query, which is then tweaked with customizations specific to individuals / locations / languages? I.e. they've "saved" the basic search output in advance so that core doesn't have to be run each time, and only adjust around the edges specific to a user?

          Or is that not how it's done, and each search, for a given person, follows the same process?

          I've always been curious about that.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            There's a lot of information on how Google Search Works on our site by that name here: https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/

            While there's some very short caching of results, to my understanding, there's generally still going to be a lot of hitting the index because there's just a lot of new information coming in all the time. We can't somehow store a set of results for say "cars" and figure it's going to be the same info from one minute to the next.

            And results don't really have a lot of personalization for individuals. When you see differences, it's usually due to language and location.

  • rob_c 7 days ago

    It's only "myseterious" because google will have everyone believe so. They certainly have some of (if not the) best tuned algorithms for indexing and querying on the planet, but there's no angel dust or dark magic at work. (And frankly given how unreliable search in gmail is I'm amazed they keep their head above water)

  • londons_explore 7 days ago

    "don't" being turned into "don t" is due to the way search indexes work. It's a computer science problem, not Google specific.

    The index is like a dictionary - you look things up by word. But you need to find some way to split up every page on the internet to decide what is a 'word' and what isn't. If you decide that quote marks are part of a word, then you'll end up with apple and apple' making different entries in the index which you probably didn't want.

  • mr-pink 7 days ago

    the key thing is they call it "search" and not "find" because they don't care if you actually find anything. at least it's not "bing"

    • traes 7 days ago

      Or maybe because it's impossible to guarantee that you'll find what you're looking for and you may not even be looking for anything specific, making "search" a more honest and literal term? I'm not saying Google results haven't been getting worse, but blaming that on Google entirely instead of rampant SEO (which is mostly used by people who want to make money, not people who want to provide useful information) and the lack of hand curated directories to steal relevant results from are likely just as detrimental to good search results as Google's ad prioritization. While Google certainly hasn't been helping, the web has been falling apart (in terms of usability at least) for at least a decade. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetency.

    • bergenty 7 days ago

      Your comment is asinine but that’s a great gimmicky perspective for a competitor to distinguish themselves. “Don’t search, find”

      • boesboes 7 days ago

        I had a customer once that wanted a 'find' feature instead of a 'search' feature. Which was not a bad idea, it makes sense, you want to find something not just search for it. However, they also insisted the 'find' button would fall and bounce a few times after you click it. You win some, you lose some ;)

        • soco 7 days ago

          Actually, often you must first "search" (aka go to some search page to enter search terms) and only then you can click the button "find" - unless the search controls are already on the page you're on.

    • tapanjk 7 days ago

      'You tell us what you want, we show you what you need.' TM

dekhn 7 days ago

See also some context for Google search operators including ones that have been removed: https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-advanced-search-operators/ and changed: https://www.googleguide.com/quote_operator.html (IIRC this was due to Google+ and was an internally unpopular change, but my memory may be faulty).

  • modeless 7 days ago

    I don't understand why they never added + back after Google+ finally died. When I was at Google I actually went as far as looking for the code to re-enable it in superroot. If I recall correctly I actually found some of the code but never had time to learn enough about superroot to make and test a CL.

    Of course I probably wouldn't have actually been able to get it changed back just by making a CL but at least I would have learned why it couldn't be changed back.

    • grapeskin 7 days ago

      I feel like tech giants just absolutely never admit mistakes. Instead of reverting something and admitting it was a bad decision, they’ll at best completely relaunch a half-assed complete rehaul of it and pretend it’s a brand new feature.

      I guess it’s too hard to find a way to reframe adding back a + as something new.

      But god, I wish there were a way to do actual precise searches like there used to be. It’s especially awful with multilingual computing. I can search for things word by word in quotes, and Google will return things translated word by word into a different language. If I wanted that language, I would have input the words in that language. And there’s no escaping it, even if I change my settings to only search one language.

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        I work for Google Search. Quotes replaced the + operator but work exactly the same way. They do precisely search for content with the exact terms specified. They really do. They will not look for translations and so on. If there's no match at all for a quoted term, we will show other matches but also make that clear with a special message. And maybe we shouldn't do that to make it even clearer there are no matches. But we don't ignore quoted terms when there's a match -- if you ever have an example where you think this has happened, I'd love to know if you're comfortable sharing, so we can investigate.

        • grapeskin 7 days ago

          I search things in English daily. The results are translated word by word into similar sounding words in Japanese written in Katakana with zero English on the page.

          I’m sorry, but what you’re saying simply is not true. It’s immensely frustrating. Using bing, DDG, or literally any other search engine doesn’t have this problem. And I’m searching common words, common concepts, basic things that even the worst search engines will accurately provide results for.

          The most frustrating thing is sometimes the language will flip. I will get English on certain hours of the day. But if I make a single search in Japanese, it flips back into that mode and there’s no unsticking it.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            If you are quoting terms, we're not going to match what's quoted and not go beyond that. If you have an example of where using quoted terms, you find this happening, please share if you're comfortable. I'll forward to the team, and we'll investigate.

            If you're not quoting terms, we might go beyond the inputted language and the language preference if that seems useful. And if this isn't turning out to be useful for you, again, please share any examples you might be comfortable with (now or in the future). Ping me, and we'll look into it.

            • dannysullivan 7 days ago

              Oh, and I meant "we're going to match what's quoted" in the first sentence of my reply. Sorry -- can't edit it now.

          • rattray 6 days ago

            Can you provide repro steps?

        • chimprich 7 days ago

          > If there's no match at all for a quoted term, we will show other matches but also make that clear with a special message.

          I disagree that you "make that clear". It's rendered in the same light grey that the rest of the text on the page is in. I have several times noticed the message only after going through a few links. It's very easy to miss if you're in a hurry.

          I think usability has been sacrificed for aesthetics here.

        • tempestn 7 days ago

          The shame of this is, sometimes it's nice to be able to indicate to google which words in your complex query should be treated as a phrase, without forcing 100% literal matching. So the ideal for a power user would be to have both quotes for phrase grouping and +/- for exact search and exclusion. (Both of which could be used on either single terms or phrases.)

          Working numeric ranges would be nice too. And wildcards. Heck, full logical AND/OR search with parentheses.

          • saurik 7 days ago

            I still miss AltaVista :(.

            • mech422 7 days ago

              oh god yes... just the "NEAR" operator alone put it miles ahead..

              "Fred near jones" vs " 'fred jones' 'jones fred' 'jones, fred' 'fred micheal jones' "

            • Mezzie 7 days ago

              I miss Dogpile.

              Comparing everybody's results was fascinating.

          • mech422 7 days ago

            yep - quotes are not 'identical' to '+'

        • mianos 7 days ago

          This is one of the most clear examples of one of the worst user interfaces ever. If you can show a match it does show the results if it does not, it shows you show a bunch of useless, to me, pages anyway.

          There is little surprise there are so many people here saying quotes don't work at all.

          • trebbble 7 days ago

            I think part of it's that they just don't index a whole bunch of the Web anymore. You can search things in quotes that must exist, and get "LOL no such results here's some irrelevant shit". That's what people mean when they say quotes don't work as expected—you use them and more often than not get "LOL nothing, here's unrelated trash" even when there for-sure should be results.

            • rattray 6 days ago

              What are some examples of sites which don't appear to be indexed?

        • dangerface 7 days ago

          > I work for Google Search. Quotes replaced the + operator

          Quotes existed before the + operator was removed. Unless the algorithm for quotes changed from exact match to match anything, which seems likely from the results I get.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            Quotes existed originally as a way to match phrases, more than one word. + was meant for matching a single word. Quotes replaced the way to match a single word, while still remaining the way to phrase search.

            • rattray 6 days ago

              Hmm, that makes it sound like if I search:

              > lyrics "walk down the aisle at the store"

              it'll do an inexact phrase search, and if I do:

              > lyrics walk down the "aisle" at the "store"

              it'll do a normal search but with exact-match for aisle and store.

              But in this example, that doesn't appear to be the case - looks like the first example is exact match phrase search?

              • dannysullivan 4 days ago

                Yes, that's exactly what it will do. But keep in mind that if you do [lyrics walk down the "aisle" at the "store"] by default we'll probably rank pages that have many of the words adjacent to each other because we can tell those are probably more relevant. That's why you might get the same or similar results to [lyrics "walk down the aisle at the store"] -- and it's why the post suggests not even using quotes at all at first, because we might get things fine without them.

        • pessimizer 7 days ago

          I've heard that they respect one quoted term, and treat further ones as unquoted.

      • thomassmith65 7 days ago

          But god, I wish there were a way to do actual precise searches 
          like there used to be.
        It's probably not in Google's best interest to allow that. I assume Verbatim search puts higher load on Google servers, while simultaneously making it harder to confine the user to a Google-affiliated site (eg: AdSense client, Blogger, Youtube...)
      • dylan604 7 days ago

        >I feel like tech giants just absolutely never admit mistakes.

        The only one that comes to mind is Apple's mea-culpa on the Trashcan MacPro. They actually sat down with reporters and admitted it was a bad design. That one stood out due to the actual admission vs the typical silently revert design back without admission of bad idea (like the butterfly keyboard, magsafe, touch bar, etc).

        • Klonoar 7 days ago

          The difference may be that the MacPro target audience is less general and very vocal. Nowhere to really hide on that one.

    • dannysullivan 7 days ago

      I work for Google Search. We have looked at this, and while never say never, reverting is hard from what I understand because it means we'd have to ignore the + symbol which turns out to be useful to recognize when it comes to international phone number searches.

      • chimprich 7 days ago

        That seems like quite the edge case. I don't think I've ever searched for an international phone number. Is that worth making the search experience rather poorer for everyone?

        Besides: if you're searching for a phone number, you presumably are looking for an exact match, so how is treating it as such a problem?

        • jacoblambda 7 days ago

          Are you by chance in North America? I suspect this is a much more common edge case in Europe where you have a bunch of countries within close proximity to each other.

          • chimprich 7 days ago

            I live in the UK and travel regularly in Europe. I've very rarely Googled a phone number. The only times I can think of is when I've had an unknown number call me and I want to try to figure out who it was. (Of course, doing it the reverse way, Googling an org's name to find their phone number, is common).

            I'm suddenly curious as to why anyone would search for phone numbers regularly.

      • spacebanana7 7 days ago

        The + symbol also gets used in credible search terms like Disney+, Apple TV+, math equations, C++, code snippets (x += 1), indicators of age (e.g 2000+ year old pyramid) etc.

        I suppose many of these could be addressed by ignoring the + at the end of a word, but that weakens the robustness to user error in correct spacing.

        • falcor84 7 days ago

          I thought the + operator only ever worked as the first character of a word

          • pessimizer 7 days ago

            Or if it doesn't, than make it so. And tell people that if they want to search for a word that begins with a symbol, put it in quotes. That doesn't seem difficult.

      • breakingcups 7 days ago

        That seems like it is easy to special-case though.

        • dannysullivan 7 days ago

          Not so easy, the engineers tell me. Again, never say never. I miss + myself, but quotes do work.

      • modeless 7 days ago

        Thanks! I figured there was a reason something like this. But I have to say it seems like an eminently solvable problem.

    • ASalazarMX 7 days ago

      Google+ has not died, it still wanders in Google Workspace purgatory.

  • a3w 7 days ago

    . works the way _ does, pretty much. So one more operator?

WatchDog 7 days ago

I'm glad to hear that they are working on fixing this, but I would be keen to understand why quote searches have been so much worse over the last ~2 years.

  • kurthr 7 days ago

    Me too.

    My anecdote was that during the winter Olympics I was looking for a college friend who's name was several characters off of one of the competing athlete's. It didn't matter how much additional information I put in the search. Even quoted, if it included anything that looked like that popular athlete, then that was all that was returned.

    When I finally found an old user name she used, then the searches worked. Her correct name and the other information I was searching with were in the page. So it was indexed, the information was simply ignored, because it wasn't news.

    Interesting that DDG did not find the page even with the username. I do not know why, but it appeared it was not indexed there.

    • trebbble 7 days ago

      > When I finally found an old user name she used, then the searches worked. Her correct name and the other information I was searching with were in the page. So it was indexed, the information was simply ignored, because it wasn't news.

      This is exactly what people mean when they say quotes "don't work". Elsewhere are google people in this comment section saying they do, and they may be telling the truth after Google applies some relevance pre-filter to the results. Anything that doesn't pass that, though, basically doesn't exist, which can look like quoting not working at all (and effectively is quoting not working as expected).

    • Jiro 7 days ago

      I once tried to search for a scammer named "internal revenue services" (with an S at the end) and it just wouldn't let me, quotes or not.

      I tried it now and it's better, but not perfect. Most pages contain the term (as a misspelling) but a few didn't seem to (one had the word "services" in many places on it, however) and there was still a big Google Maps result and a Wikipedia result at the top for the actual IRS.

    • permo-w 7 days ago

      quote search often fails on duckduckgo

  • Retr0id 7 days ago

    I hear this a lot, but it I haven't personally noticed any real problems with quoted search (other than the occasional difficulty actually finding the content on the resultant webpages).

    I have noticed a general decline in search quality over the last couple of years, but nothing specific to quotes.

    I realise I'm not saying anything particularly useful with this comment, but I just thought I'd add another datapoint.

    Edit: Thinking more, my biggest issue is when the quoted text occurs in the "recommended similar posts" section of a page (particularly common with reddit). That section gets re-rendered on each view, so it probably won't be there once I click the result.

    • 8192kjshad09- 7 days ago

      Quoted search is provably broken for some queries, try a google search for "[::]" (with the double quotes), it has no results. Similarly, try a search for 'linux next hop "[::]"' (with the double quotes), none of the results will contain [::].

      Proof: https://archive.ph/AAa6k and https://archive.ph/9WGe7

      • nomel 7 days ago

        > none of the results will contain

        More and more frequently I was getting this for the actual search terms, in quotes or not, to the point where I would Control+F any words just to find none of them existed on the page. It's the reason I switched to dumber search engines.

        I've assumed the "fast path" is to search for "phrases with similar meaning", rather than actual words. But that really destroys technical searches.

        • dannysullivan 7 days ago

          If you haven't read our post, I'd encourage doing do. Quotes do work to find the exact terms specified. But control-F won't locate some of the terms we find when fully rendering a doc -- that's why the list explains using developer tools to search if control-F comes up with nothing.

          • anonymoushn 7 days ago

            It might be useful to offer people a way to search for content that is rendered in the page, rather than content that is only visible in developer tools.

            • dannysullivan 7 days ago

              The content is rendered on the page. For example, say someone has an email sign-up box. When the page renders, the box appears and it might list all the countries in the world, so that you can pick your country from the list. All those countries are rendered, available if you use the box. But if you ctrl-f search, you might not see that text even though it did render. Real case I looked into which prompted the tip of using developer tools.

      • Retr0id 7 days ago

        This isn't evidence of anything changing, google has always ignored punctuation - treating it as whitespace, as mentioned in the article.

        • oktoberpaard 7 days ago
          • Retr0id 7 days ago

            Interesting - looks like they're doing this via a bunch of special-case rules.

            To any google engineers reading:

            Please add `really-verbatim` mode, indicated by backtick quotes, which also requires strict matching of punctuation.

            • lrem 7 days ago

              I'm a Google engineer way too far organisationally to ever have any say in this.

              I wonder if that will ever be worth the hardware cost. Back when I did some coursework on information retrieval, it seemed that you get superlinear savings via reducing the cardinality of tokens. So you'd do stemming, remove all punctuation, words that are too frequent ("do", "be", "and", "or", ...)... Basically remove all grammar. You do the same to your search query and the index. This intuitively reduces your compute by at least an order of magnitude, especially for languages with rich grammar (e.g. stemming nouns in Polish reduces the cardinality of tokens by a factor of 7 and verbs by a factor of 162).

            • ComodoHacker 7 days ago

              No way they'll inflate their indexes even 20% and add complexity into their algorithms for 0.1% queries that won't bring any additional income.

              • Retr0id 7 days ago

                They don't necessarily have to inflate their indexes. Backtick-quoted results ought to be a subset of double-quoted results, so they can use the standard quoted search algorithm, and then filter out imperfect matches from those results.

                • mkl 7 days ago

                  Google searches ignore punctuation, so it's not even indexed, so there's no way to search for punctuation without inflating the index

                  • Retr0id 7 days ago

                    Read what I said. They can use the standard index, then filter the results as a last pass.

                    • mkl 7 days ago

                      I did read what you said. Imagine trying to search for

                      as 8192kjshad09- suggested earlier in the thread. What standard index results are you going to filter? Since "[::]" isn't in the index, you won't have anything to go on. To do your back-tick really-verbatim searches, the index has to be enlarged.
                      • Retr0id 7 days ago

                        Ah, sorry, I see what you mean.

            • dannysullivan 7 days ago

              I work for Google Search. We did look a this, and we'll keep looking to see if we can improve, but it turns out to be a very hard lift.

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        The post explains that we see some punctuation as spaces so that query is a search for nothing, which is why it fails.

    • kens 7 days ago

      In my experience, quoted search works very well. I do a lot of really, really obscure searches with quoted search and Google finds the pages for me. Maybe other people get different results, but I'm puzzled by all the complaints about quoted search. You're all using double quotes ", opening and closing, right?

  • uo21tp5hoyg 7 days ago

    Some search engines seem to just completely ignore quotes now, it's very frustrating especially when I know what I want to search and the search engine just isn't letting me.

    • ramraj07 7 days ago

      The irony was that googles original claim to fame was that it was the first engine to start including all terms by default and respecting quotes perfectly. Then they just went back on it. Maybe it’s SEO pressure, or maybe it’s just incompetent product owners who didn’t understand what made their product click.

      • ratg13 7 days ago

        I think they just assume that they know better what you want than you do.

        That you probably don't want the thing you're searching for, but some alternate spelling, even if it's something completely different.

        I imagine this probably ends up being the case for the majority of their users, but for advanced users and people searching for specific technical strings, they've cheapened their service.

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        I work for Google Search. We never changed how we used quotes as a restriction tool. People seem to have had that impression because our snippets changed to not reflect where we were finding the terms. Hopefully our new snippet change will help stop that impression.

        • anonymoushn 7 days ago

          If you did not change how the quotes interact with the indexed text for a page, but you did change the mapping from pages to indexed text, then you have changed how you use quotes as a restriction tool.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            I'm not sure what you mean by "mapping from pages to index text" but no, we didn't make any change in terms of retrieval. None. Use quotes, we look for pages that have the quoted material and only show those pages. The change we announced this week was about how we display snippets -- descriptions -- of those pages. Now the snippets will show examples of where we found the quoted terms, when sometimes the snippets didn't. But even if they didn't, the quoted terms were on the page.

            • anonymoushn 7 days ago

              So in the year 2000 and in the year 2022, for any web page, when that page is crawled the same text would end up in the index? No observable changes were made to the process of computing the text to put into the index from the page in those 22 years?

              > we didn't make any change *in terms of retrieval*

              Users don't care which part of the system was changed to cause the results to be worse.

              It looks like maybe your reply is only about what changes recently shipped and are mentioned in the blog post. A lot of the discussion in this comment section is about changes much older than these changes.

              • dannysullivan 4 days ago

                Yes, we didn't make any changes in how quotes retrieve content with the announcement we made. We changed how we show snippets for quoted searches.

        • trebbble 7 days ago

          Quotes "not working" is because we search for things in quotes that definitely exist (and may even be possible to induce to appear on a search page, by other means) and get "no results, have some trash instead" in response.

          It may be true that quotes are working the way we expect, but the data set to which they apply is very obviously restricted before they get a crack at it.

        • ramraj07 7 days ago

          You are right. I think what I misremembered you guys changed was that WORDS became optional unless you wrapped each one of them inside double quotes which became super annoying.

    • Gigachad 7 days ago

      My best guess is its because people pasting things in with quotes are met with no results. Stuff like error messages often quote the only unique bit of the error leaving them with no results while ignoring the quotes would give them the result they want.

      Probably the vast majority of the population have no idea that quotes do anything in searches. Maybe they need some checkbox in the tools bar that makes quotes actually work if you know how they work.

      • ehnto 7 days ago

        And the vast majority of the population is who use Google now, rather than web enthusiasts. It was probably causing people to get no results when they had quotes, and most people wouldn't know why.

        • dylan604 7 days ago

          how hard would it be for Googs to do the search as requested, see no results, then try without quotes?

          they do this for other things that annoy the F out of me. for example, searching for a phone number. it's a specific set of numbers that is unique. if there's no results for that number (or very few), it gives me results for numbers that are similar like same area code, same prefix, different number. nope. that's not useful. in this situation, I'd much rather see that no results are found rather than making me think there's a result but forcing me to look closely that it is what I wanted

          • noduerme 7 days ago

            Also, how hard would it be for the majority of the population to learn this? They're perfectly capable of using the internet to find illegal drugs, porn and dirt on their dating partners. It's not like using quotes to get verbatim results is rocket science.

          • nomel 7 days ago

            I would prefer a "technical user" mode. Heck, they could hide the option until they've deemed me "technical", by looking at my search terms. Anything is better than giving me pages and pages that don't contain the quoted term I'm looking for.

            • TuringTest 7 days ago

              That mode exists, it's labelled "verbatim".

              • nomel 7 days ago

                Verbatim is useful, but it's also going to an extreme.

          • ehnto 7 days ago

            That's really not what I want quotes to do though, I want a definitive "not found". But it might be a good compromise. Their whole jam now seems to be zero UI except the box, no filters no exact match checkboxes etc. Stuff like that would be really nice to have on the main search.

            • dylan604 7 days ago

              yeah, but then where's the line? if you start adding checkboxes or other switches to control the search, the next thing you know you have something that looks like a gnarly ffmpeg cmd

              • Siira 7 days ago

                A gnarly ffmpeg CLI is exactly what we need for a service as complex as search. The people who can use such an interface are a tiny fraction, but they will produce a majority of economic innovation nonetheless.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            I work for Google Search and yes, that's something we are considering. No promise it will happen, but we do understand it might help people better understand there's no matches for what they wanted (though we do say that now, when it happens).

      • inimino 7 days ago

        If there's no results, you have plenty of room for a "No results. Try without quotes?" bright blue link.

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        We don't need a checkbox because if you use quotes, we will match only content in the quotes, as our post explains. If there's no content at all that matches, only in that case will we show a message making it clear there's no match and that we've conducted a search without quotes.

  • II2II 7 days ago

    It soumds like they are only modifying the presentation of results, rather than the quality of the results. Useful, yes, but it's not necessarily what people are looking for.

  • solardev 7 days ago

    Ultimately they just want to show you ads for you to accidentally click on

  • dannysullivan 7 days ago

    I work for Google Search. Nothing changed in how they worked over the past two years. I think it's just that our snippets weren't reflecting where we were finding the quoted terms, causing people to think they were ignored. Hopefully this change will now help avoid that impression.

    • mojuba 7 days ago

      It's just not true. Some years back (I think around 2017) I was showing to my colleagues how the phrase

          "The magic of Google is gone"
      in quotes brings a ton of irrelevant results, none of which contained the phrase or sometimes even any of the words (and no, it wasn't the suggested "results without quotes"). I also posted about it on an online forum which Google could at one point find as the only result, but now it's gone even though that page is still there, on the same forum. Today this phrase yields zero results and suggests some without quotes.

      I could occasionally see irrelevant results for quoted searches until very recently, but I presume it's been fixed now.

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        Quotes searches bring back pages we can see have the quoted terms. That's how it is intended to work, and that's how does work. I've looked into many of these cases, we find the quoted terms there. In this example, we don't see any pages with that quoted phrase. If there is a page with it out on the web, like the forum post you mentioned, it might be that we no longer have the page in our index -- so we wouldn't match it. Do you recall the URL? It would help me look into that more.

        • onli 7 days ago

          I have a different example of Google not finding a page with "" that ought to be found. Assume I want to find https://board.s9y.org/viewtopic.php?t=18685, which is on a ~20 year old phpBB forum that is certainly indexed. The post is from 2012 after all. And I take one sentence from there and search for it, with quotes:

          "Hast du besondere s9y eventplugins installiert?"

          This leads to https://www.google.de/search?q=%22Hast+du+besondere+s9y+even..., which so far has only one search result, to http://sw-guide.de/2006-11/serendipity-plugins-seitenleisten.... Which by the way does not contain the target sentence, but that might be because the search moved over into non-verbatim mode.

          If I search without the quotes I get more results, but I think not the target thread.

          Admittedly, this is not "" not working by showing pages that do not contain the target keyword. But it is "" failing by the search not properly searching its own index.

          What's going on there? Why is the index of a rather stale 20 year old forum not complete? The site is indexed in general.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            I don't see that particular page appearing to be indexed by us. If we don't have it indexed, we can't match it. Ideally, we'd index all the pages out on the web. But the web is really big.

        • Der_Einzige 7 days ago

          You're still trying to gaslight HN users about this. Just ADMIT YOU and GOOGLE ARE WRONG.

          Thread after thread of hundreds of people telling you your wrong and then you going "actually the community is wrong". Month after month, year after year, you pull this crap.

          Admit it, Google search is worse now than it was before, and partly because they are abjectly failing at handling quotes.

        • solarkraft 6 days ago

          it might be that we no longer have the page in our index -- so we wouldn't match it

          what the ... ? Why do you delete stuff from your index? Even if it's down there's a good chance it'll be archived ...

          • dannysullivan 4 days ago

            It's not that it gets specifically deleted. We just don't have infinite space. There's always new pages coming along. Like trillions of pages out there. So we might not get back to revisiting a page and it falls out of our index while other content is added.

    • dereg 7 days ago

      How do you folks think about the fact that sites provide privileged access to Google’s crawler but routinely restrict access/paywall the same content to a normal user? Among chronic offenders are LinkedIn Pinterest, Instagram, various media sites, and etc. are you folks well aware that this is occurring, and are there any plans to discourage or punish that sort of behavior?

  • kieckerjan 7 days ago

    Regular unquoted search has declined in the eyes of many people. Quoted search worked and works fine (if you take into account the caveats about tokenisation etc). They are improving the snippets. It is all in the fine article.

  • victor9000 7 days ago

    Doing some form of lossy tokenization would leave you in a pickle like this, but that's pure speculation on my part.

  • skybrian 7 days ago

    Maybe they're getting gamed somehow? With this change, it should be easier to see if that's the case.

    • L6489afSMNLNFDa 7 days ago

      They're absolutely getting gamed (by sticking clickbait keywords into the meta description or invisible content or even just in plain text at the bottom of the page - you'd think they'd have learned their lesson on Youtube but alas). This doesn't change that.

      • dylan604 7 days ago

        remember when sites would load keywords up with the same font color as the background, or in divs with display:none or visibility:hidden type of shenanigans? they supposedly penalized sites for that. so you're saying that keyword stuffing is back?

  • metadat 7 days ago
    • bigyikes 7 days ago

      I was a DDG user for the past year, and I consistently found myself falling back to the big G due to poor result quality.

      I recently started paying for Kagi[1] and I’ve been very pleased with the results. I haven’t felt the need to use a different search engine since switching. (No affiliation; just a happy customer)

      [1]: https://kagi.com/

      • DanHulton 7 days ago

        I am also a happy kagi paying user, for the extra data point.

        I do occasionally switch back to DDG for non-technical searches, but even that has been rarer and rarer as time goes on.

      • autoexec 7 days ago

        I still give DDG first shot at my searches, but their results have been getting worse and worse. I'd blame the people they scrape their results from but nobody is stopping DDG from handling search operators correctly so we can narrow down whatever gets spewed back at us. Even worse several times recently DDG just returns a blank page.

        • carrotcarrot 7 days ago

          A lot of DDG is just a front end for Bing.

      • Johnythree 7 days ago

        I'm very happy to pay Kargi a small fee, so that I never have to see Google ever again.

    • missedthecue 7 days ago

      Can you explain to me exactly how "political relationships" prevent bing or anyone else from improving quote search?

      • Jasper_ 7 days ago

        Lots of site operators explicitly allow Google and block other search engines.

        • lopatin 7 days ago

          While this may be true, I'm still confused what it has to do with quote searches.

          • mmmpop 7 days ago

            If it were me, I'd be waiting for his "sources" so I can tear them to pieces for not being the NYT or something trustworthy and 100% truthful, all of the time.

            • metadat 7 days ago

              Why would there be sources? [Unrecorded] phone call / encrypted-channel deals happen all the time. Do you want to pretend it doesn't happen and the world is actually fair? What a nice dream.

        • wowokay 7 days ago

          Those sites will lose out in the long run I suppose.

    • astonex 7 days ago

      Because ranking is very difficult

      • metadat 7 days ago

        PageRank isn't new at this point, has been publicly available for more than 10 years. If I were less of an idiot myself I'd found a fresh search engine. Other than Dear Bing (who doesn't support the "Verbatim" filter), there are no public independent full-web indexes left.


        • dietr1ch 7 days ago

          What makes you think that Search still runs mainly guided by page rank?

          If that were the case then search engines would differ only on how big their database is, but unless you care about the long tail you wouldn't be able to notice much of a difference.

          I don't work in ranking, but considering how the web has changed since the early 2000s I'd guess that page rank's quality has gone down as spammy websites and walled gardens appeared.

        • chongli 7 days ago

          PageRank is basically worthless at this point. Its baseline assumption, that keywords and in-links correlate with relevance, is now broken. The vast majority of stuff out there is SEO'd and link-farmed to death. If you want to find anything relevant with PageRank these days, you first need to find a way to filter out all of the spam. This is why search is so hard now.

          • rightbyte 7 days ago

            > find a way to filter out all of the spam

            It is the same spam sites I see again and again. A manual blacklist from one puny FTE would probably clean up the wast majority.

            • nikanj 7 days ago

              But that would involve hiring a human. Google's prime directive is "Never hire a human do a job well, when you can train AI to do the same job badly"

            • graftak 7 days ago

              They could even crowd source this by allowing users to block domains from search results, which should affect its ranking long term.

              • jpindar 7 days ago

                As with so many things, they used to do this then inexplicably stopped.

                • anticensor 6 days ago

                  You can use -inurl:example.com

          • metadat 7 days ago

            Impossibly difficult and resource intensive? Sounds like we need a reset of some kind.

        • ijidak 7 days ago

          Search is a really hard problem.

          And as the web scales, it's an increasingly expensive problem. (Servers, storage, bandwidth, etc.)

          I'd wager that it's easier to launch the next SpaceX than to launch the next Google.

        • monetus 7 days ago

          Full-web isn't something google can do anymore either, for better and worse.

        • collegeburner 7 days ago

          i've got my issues with brave but iirc they're actually doing an independent web index not just using bing (i think they still use them for images tho). it was really nice to hear somebody else is working on that even if i'm not using it rn.

          • godshatter 7 days ago

            I have issues with the Brave browser but I am a big fan of their search product. Just the fact that they are building their own index was enough for me to switch, but I've had better luck with finding useful search results than I previously had with DDG. YMMV, of course. Their forum search results section has been very useful, too.

          • metadat 7 days ago

            Didn't know about Brave's Index. I just emailed them to find out how I can help with the bottom line of making human knowledge accessible for lesser-idiots. Thanks!

    • l33t2328 7 days ago

      If a competitor had perfect quotes I’d still use google. They’re too reliable at other things.

wodenokoto 7 days ago

> "Punctuation is sometimes seen as spaces. Our systems see some punctuation as spaces, which impacts quoted searches. For example, a search for [“don’t doesn’t”] tells our systems to find content that contains all these letters in this order: "don t doesn t"

Others have pointed this bit out, but I'd like to ask specifically: How do you search for special characters?

I recently came across some R code that used %||% and you cannot search for this. As in, you cannot search the internet for this at all.

Google, DuckDuckGo, Bing, Yahoo, all of them will ignore special characters. Even Github search will strip out the special characters leaving you to search for nothing.

jfoster 7 days ago

> Years ago, many people used operators because search engines sometimes needed additional guidance. Things have advanced since then, so operators are often no longer necessary.

In my experience, things have degraded since then, so operators are increasingly necessary.

  • mtlmtlmtlmtl 7 days ago

    Yeah this seemed completely bizzare to me, too. Not only are operators like site: and inurl: more necessary than ever, they're not even sufficient a lot of times, because if you don't know what website you're looking for you have to wade through oceans of blogspam that can't easily be filtered through operators since they're designed to match anything you search for. That's mainly a problem with the indexing; Google should be ignoring these sites. But it's probably padding their bottom line, so I guess they're not incentivised to.

    I'll keep saying it again and again. When companies have almost no incentives other than maximising profit, this kind of BS will invariably be what we end up with. Dark patterns are just too good for business if not kept in check through regulatory or other means.

    • jjoonathan 7 days ago

      > The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.


      • koheripbal 7 days ago

        When you don't pay for a service, you are the product, not the customer.

        This isn't a flaw of capitalism. If search ever became onerous or inaccurate enough - a paid service will emerge.

        For the moment, we've collectively "decided" that the current state is still worth it.

      • mtlmtlmtlmtl 7 days ago

        Wow, well they sure proved themselves right, didn't they. Interesting paper after a skim though, will peruse later, thanks!

    • hallway_monitor 7 days ago

      This is exactly the problem. Most companies put 90 plus percent of their effort towards maximizing profit once they go public. Your reason for existence as a company is to serve customers and provide for employees, not only to make money.

      Besides regulation for some industries, societal pressure and norms were the means of keeping companies in check in the past it seems. Boycotts would still work if people coordinated and cooperated on a massive scale.

      • pessimizer 7 days ago

        But this is the same argument that the companies make, and they start foundations and think-tanks to write papers and do press releases against the stuff that they themselves do.

        Companies are here to make money doing risky things. They (nominally) do this for the government, because the government wants to do things that are risky, but also wants to last forever, so it needs to offload the risk where it can. In return, they get limited liability, and often subsidy. It's the government's duty to set limits on what they should be doing. Any effective social pressure should be directed towards the responsible government decision-makers. Attacking companies directly is for emergencies and immanent danger.

        Also, companies have access to a lot of tools that we try to make it illegal for governments to use (although they do anyway, but sometimes it's stopped and sometimes it doesn't hold up in court.) They can look at everyone influential in your movement, find the most morally flexible and charismatic of them, then indirectly finance them and inflate their social media metrics - then hire them or put them at the heads of foundations. They can look at the others and pay people to troll them all day, get their ex-husband to file for full custody of their children and pay the lawyer, and get articles in the Atlantic about how they may have plagiarized their dissertation.

        It's a delusion that everything can be solved by slavishly imitating the early struggle for black civil rights in the US. Black civil rights weren't even improved by that movement directly, they were improved indirectly through white people watching the movement get absolutely brutalized, jailed, and murdered, and feeling ashamed. [edit: and also by the energy of young white men who feared the draft, and that fear made them feel like they were black people.]

        Corporate CEOs aren't going to be ashamed, and if they get ashamed, they'll get replaced. The funds that you've invested your own retirement into will be the ones whose pressure replaces them, too. Your mouth will be moving the CEOs heart, while your wallet is getting them fired.

    • skummetmaelk 7 days ago

      Maximizing profit is great if the side effects are beneficial. Currently maximizing profit means shoving as many ads down people's eyeballs as possible and that's the root cause of blogspam. Google is obviously not going to fight it when they often take a cut of the ad money shown on blogspam sites.

      We have to move towards a system where profit maximization closely correlates with consumer good.

      • phkahler 7 days ago

        >> We have to move towards a system where profit maximization closely correlates with consumer good.

        That's easy to say but IMHO requires the consumer to pay directly rather than the whole advertising nonsense that has nothing to do with the consumer searching for stuff.

        Starting to think the only way to stop this kind of thing is to remove the profit motive as much as possible. The whole 401k plan idea for retirement savings is causing huge inflows of cash into the market which is probably where a lot of the money looking for returns is coming from. When a whole society is seeking profits it seems like that's going to make things worse. I'm not even sure how much return rich folks were looking for in the old days - if you owned a big company and it was making money, was there such thing as "enough"? There definitely isn't today.

        • skummetmaelk 7 days ago

          Sure it's easy to say and difficult to achieve. Would it be easier to eliminate profit motive rather than limiting the ways in which it can be done? Eliminating profit motive would be an attempt to change human nature, we are greedy after all. Regulating the ways in which the profit motive can be expressed is an administrative exercise.

          If we could ensure that people are more like to get rich doing valuable things (value != money, value == things that match our values), then we wouldn't see the brightest minds of each generation slave away in ad-tech and finance. Spending their work lives manipulating people into buying things they rarely need or fighting it out in a zero-sum financial game for negative societal gain.

    • Robotbeat 7 days ago

      Of course, regulations are not a real substitute for having values beyond pure profit motive because regulations can actually reinforce profits by creating a regulatory moat. Regulatory capture is also a real threat.

      • jjoonathan 7 days ago

        > having values

        That's your plan? THAT'S YOUR PLAN? For the people in charge to magically start valuing your quality of life without beating them over the head with regulation?

        Look, I hope as much as the next guy that a competitor emerges with a better offering, against all odds beats the incumbent, and unlike the last 5 times this happened does not follow the market incentive to become evil, but hope is not a strategy.

        • thesuitonym 7 days ago

          The real answer is to change who's in charge. One way to do this is regulations, another is socialization.

          • falcor84 7 days ago

            The paradox is that as long as it's difficult to become in charge, only the really ambitious people will get there, and these generally aren't the people who'll serve others. Back to the lottery system?

            • thesuitonym 7 days ago

              If we move ownership from boards of investors to the people who work at a company, and make leadership democratically elected, such as in a co-op, things work out a little better. Yeah, ambitious people will still raise to the top, but their incentives will be to make the company better, not necessarily more profitable.

              • falcor84 7 days ago

                Ok, let's assume for the sake of discussion that co-ops are better in every way, what then? Should we just require all shareholders to be employed full-time at the company (effectively eliminating the stock market), or just the leadership?

                • thesuitonym 7 days ago

                  For a co-op to work, every employee (And often, every customer, though that's not necessary) gets one vote. They become the shareholders. Yes, this means that company in particular wouldn't have stock with voting shares, but that doesn't mean it can't have a stock market. For instance: There are other companies.

                  • falcor84 7 days ago

                    >There are other companies.

                    Oh, but that's the thing, obviously there already are co-ops; my impression was that you wanted all companies to be co-ops.

        • mtlmtlmtlmtl 7 days ago

          Not the GP, but: I wouldn't call it a plan, more of a goal.

      • mtlmtlmtlmtl 7 days ago

        Generally I take an evolutionary view. If we accept that companies evolve through competition in markets, regulations should be designed to put selective pressures on having those values.

        A regulatory moat, is in my view homologous to niches in biology. Things settle into a sort of equilibrium where evolutionary change drastically slows. The main solution to this: aggressively break up monopolies(I would argue duopolies too). Other ways this equilibrium breaks is just that the environment changes. E.g some new technological breakthrough makes older technologies obsolete. Or a natural disaster in biology, throwing the ecosystem into disarray.

  • Ralfp 7 days ago

    My average search starts with „site:reddit.com” because otherwise first three pages of results will be SEO blogs where 90% of article follows „First, what is XYZ?” followed by „so we see why it serms hard, but if you pay us/our affiliate money we will do it for you nice and easy!”

  • quitit 7 days ago

    Google was never good enough to remove the operators, and as you said it’s gotten worse not better.

    Seemingly people using operators would produce additional training for the algorithm which is currently not possible. This could also be a factor leading to the results decay everyone has experienced when trying to find something that isn’t leading popular culture. It’s that peculiar behaviour where tweaking the search terms didn’t affect the results.

  • jjoonathan 7 days ago

    Ugh, yes. Google is still pretty good for navigation-by-title on popular content, but it is increasingly terrible at search. Breaking operators is part of that story, but I've seen more and more instances where Google will prove that it can return a page but won't return results for some of the phrases on the page. I half suspect that behind the scenes there is a one-hot encoding or embedding that just ignores tokens with low frequency, which completely wrecks Google's ability to navigate technical writing with abbreviations, part numbers, small brands, etc. Sometimes it does work, so I think of it like a popularity algorithm plus a decrepit fallback for the content it deems "no longer necessary" to do a half decent job on.

  • O__________O 7 days ago

    Which is the core issue, Google has likely gotten better for the average user, but worse for above average users; say this as an above average searcher that has helped average users search for years.

    To my knowledge Google neither publishes search quality reports, nor acknowledges that there’s a gap between their search quality for average users and above average users. In my experience even their “Search Quality Raters” (contractors paid to evaluate search quality) are rarely above average searchers, they are just good at evaluating what they evaluate.

    • postalrat 7 days ago

      I can see how things have gotten better for the average user. All searches seem to lead to ads and questionable generated reviews and content.

      • O__________O 7 days ago

        Average user either likely: does not care, values ADs, understands ADs pay the bills, does not care enough to understand ad blockers, cannot tell search quality has changed, is unable to tell real reviews from fake, etc.

        If you care, in my opinion, you’re not an average user, since if the average user cared, so would Google.

        • postalrat 7 days ago

          Average users do care. How do you think google got to be so popular?

          • O__________O 7 days ago

            Why Google became popular is way to complex a topic for a thread like this, but no, average user at this point does not with any meaningful cadence look for other search engines to use and likely started using Google not because they compared it to others, but because someone told them to use it. If you’re doing more than five searches a day, you’re not average.

            • godshatter 7 days ago

              To add to this, most non-tech people I know just type their search in the URL bar and it goes wherever it goes, usually to google. They even do this with actual urls, without the .com or whatever at the end and just click on the google search result for the link they wanted to go to. As someone who has meticulously hand-crafted search queries since the altavista days of the web, it still stuns me when I see it.

              We haven't done a very good job of explaining how the web or browsers work to the general public, let alone the landscape of search engine companies.

              • postalrat 7 days ago

                Most non-tech people I know start typing and use the autocomplete of their previous visit.

  • SkyPuncher 7 days ago

    Yea, this is a case of not being customer centric.

    I absolutely believe that Google has advanced technologically. Whether that's translated to improvements for users, it's not clear.

  • Someone1234 7 days ago

    If you want the old, good, Google back: Turn on Verbatim Mode.

    Search Tools -> All Results -> Verbatim.

    Instead of Google throwing away 90% of your search query and looking for the "top hits" (and returning almost entirely auto-generated pages), it keeps every word you entered and returns actually relevant stuff.

    It really is night and day.

  • ubermonkey 7 days ago

    Exactly right.

    I hate modern "search". I understand nontechnical people probably like algorithm-based "enhanced" search fine, but if I search for something specific I want THAT THING ONLY.

    "Modern" search made it really hard to ask very specific, strict questions.

  • giancarlostoro 7 days ago

    Yeah, I suspect when they added all the "filter out all the piracy sites" features, and anything else that's bad on the internet, it really ruined what was once the most powerful search engine I had seen to date. I don't think we'll ever see that again. Probably also when they "personalized" the search results more and more.

    What Google needs is a built-in way to block domains, like idk... Pinterest.

    • flyinghamster 7 days ago

      That's one more example of why operators are more necessary than ever - you can add a -pinterest to your searches and (at least for now) it respects it.

      But I'm glad to see something finally done about my biggest gripe with Google (and even DDG sometimes does this): search results that don't contain the phrase, or not even part of it, that I'm specifically searching for, quotes be damned. If Google is finally getting the hint, good. This has been driving me nuts for years.

      A plain, no algorithmic "enhancements," regexp search would rock. I've wanted that since the Alta Vista days, but I doubt I'll ever see it. It might be a bit expensive to do something like that over a Google-sized search database.

  • emrah 7 days ago

    > In my experience, things have degraded since then

    "In my experience" is exactly right, search results degraded for a fraction of users such as developers.

    It's good to see Google is going back to making those users happy although that probably means bad news for DDG et al

  • cientifico 7 days ago

    I am willing to pay for the search experience of years ago.

    In their defense, Google now gets right what my grandmother searches.

de6u99er 7 days ago

Remember when we could use "+" to tell Google it must include a term and "-" to define what the search result must not include? This was helpful to filter out advertisements and other useless nonsense while making sure to get what we want.

  • mancerayder 7 days ago

    It must have been important to Google to remove agency from the user. If the user is too specific in their search, it's more difficult to use information gathered about the user to fulfill what it appears their ultimate goal is: to spoonfeed.

    That's what it seems like to me, moving to a world where technology tells you what you want, and you spend less effort telling it.

    I think Netflix did a similar thing some time back, just with their front page. Originally it seemed like a place you went to look for things. At a later point, it seemed suddenly a bunch of things were shoved in your face by default, and looking for a thing seemed secondary.

    Recommendation Engine, is that what Silicon Valley believes they're innovating on?

    An Orwellian nightmare is what is being created.

    • dannysullivan 7 days ago

      The change from + to "" as a restriction option removed no "agency" from users. It provided exactly the same functionality, allowing anyone to require that a particular word or phrase be present in Google Search results.

      • Jtype 7 days ago

        And removing "-"?

        • LegionMammal978 7 days ago

          The `-` operator has never been removed? If I search for `athens`, I get results for Athens, Greece. If I search for `athens -greece`, I get one map result for a random "Athens Greece", followed by web results for Athens, AL, Athens, GA, and Athens, OH. At most, the issue is that the widgets don't respect the `-` operator as well as the web results do.

    • jll29 7 days ago

      I fully concur.

  • nazka 7 days ago

    Hmm what do you mean by could? It’s not possible anymore? So far it seems to be still there.

    • jdefelice 7 days ago

      It doesn't work as it once did, Google will still ignore +keyword, It broke with the introduction of Google's social platform Google+

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        I work for Google Search. It works exactly the same as + did. We don't ignore the terms that are quoted. That was the point ofvthe change we made, that because the quoted terms weren't sometimes in snippets, it might seem like we were ignoring when we weren't. Hopefully this change will help.

        • chimprich 7 days ago

          > We don't ignore the terms that are quoted.

          This has not been my experience. I regularly use quotes and get back pages that don't contain the phrase.

          The article suggests that content might not appear because it is in the source of the page, or the page has changed since it was crawled. However, I've grepped the source of the page, and checked Google's cache of the page, and not found the quoted phrase.

          I used to report bad results to Google, but it's a complete black box and I have no idea if anyone pays attention to them, so I don't anymore.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            If you ever find an example where you think they don't work, please ping me. I've looked into many of these cases, and the material does appear on the page as we've seen it.

            • Kuinox 7 days ago

              On the page: "https://book.simply-logical.space/src/text/1_part_i/1.1.html"

              If I take the quote: "At the beginning of this section, we posed the question: can we show that our two definitions of the nearby-relation are equivalent?"

              Searching on google lead to 2 dead link, and another website republishing the book as pdf.

              Others search engines give me the link of the page I got the quote from, as the first result.

              • dannysullivan 7 days ago

                That's not a sign that quote search doesn't work. In fact, the opposite. The pages you get all appear to have that really long quoted phrase. Instead, it's a sign we don't have one particular page with that quote indexed. Certainly better if we did have that page included in our index, of course. I'll pass it on.

                • Kuinox 7 days ago

                  > The pages you get all appear to have that really long quoted phrase.

                  Two of three are dead links, so not really.

                  While indeed google doesn't look to have indexed this particular page, it looks like others search engine successfuly indexed it.

                  The "relevant"(where this verbatim string came from) result looks like a pdf dump websites, which is less relevant to what I want.

              • chrisan 7 days ago

                I also get the dead link, and the 2nd link is now this comment :)

              • stavros 7 days ago

                But a false negative (not getting a page that has the phrase) isn't the same as a false positive (getting a page that doesn't have the phrase), which is what the GP is talking about.

            • loloquwowndueo 7 days ago

              Sad that the only way to get Google to “listen” is to back channel requests via some obscure web forum and not through any official google-provided channel.

            • bnralt 7 days ago

              Here's a separate issue I ran into the other day that almost made it impossible to find something Google had indexed. Type in "mumbai comes to norway," and you get a page and a half of results, with the date on almost all of them being 2011. Now give it a time range between 1900 and today (IE, all results with a time stamp should be included). All of the results disappear except for one.

              For whatever reason any effort to use the time range can remove _many_ search results that Google knows are from that time range and that should be included. That can make it almost impossible to find old articles, particularly since Google pushes new less relevant hits if you don't restrict the time range.

              The only way I was able to find this article the first time was by searching through social media, which sometimes has less crazy search algorithms.

              • dannysullivan 7 days ago

                See this Twitter thread I shared (I work for Google Search) on our before/after commands we added to make it easier to do this type of searching. It also explains why it is sometimes difficult for us to determine the date of a document: https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1115706765088182272

                • bnralt 7 days ago

                  I don't think this has to do with the issue I mentioned. Google has gives a date for these articles when you do a regular search. As I mentioned, these are mostly around 2011. Again, these dates are coming from Google, not the site. If I do a time range that includes 2011 in it, even a time range that includes the entire existence of the internet (1900 to 2022), all of the sites except one disappear. It's not a matter of Google getting a date wrong, it's a matter of Google not displaying hits that it should be displaying per the data in its own system.

            • BWStearns 7 days ago

              I've also seen cases where the quote seems to be ignored. I don't have a full theory yet but I think it might be when the contained string is too long? Next time I see it I'll send it to you.

        • wildmanx 7 days ago

          I've used quoted searches now and then in the past, as recently as last week or so, and it definitely did not work. There were no usable results, none of the results shown did contain the exact words. Is there a bug somewhere?

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            If you have an example you're comfortable sharing, I'm happy to take a look with the team (I work for Google Search). It's designed to match content as described in the post.

            • cobbaut 7 days ago

              Search "xaverius franciscus"

              Only one of the first six results contains the exact phrase, the others all have other characters between these two words.

              Search +"napoloen" And it insists on including napoleon.

              Please include an 'expert' mode or something for people who know what they are looking for.

              • dannysullivan 7 days ago

                Every result I looked at on the first three pages have those words, and those words being clearly indicated in the snippets. Some of them have punctuation between the words. As the post explains, we see punctuation as spaces -- please do look at the post about this, if you haven't. As for the + operator, that hasn't been supported for ages. Putting the + symbol means nothing. You just need to do "napoloen" for an exact match on that. Which, if you do, causes us to say:

                Showing results for "napoleon" Search instead for "napoloen"

                So while you said you wanted a quote search, our systems are really really concerned that for this spelling, you're making a terrible mistake. Which, I get as a power user, is annoying. And which, we probably should review and perhaps never substitute a different search.

                But ... we are telling you that happened. And providing a link to override what we did and say yes, I really know what I'm looking for, do it. Which -- if you click on, we'll do.

                • cobbaut 7 days ago

                  Thanks. Yes, I understand about the punctuation now.

                  About 'napoloen', I often search for non-english words that differ only one letter from an English word (English is my fourth language). I wish there was a way to permanently disable "Did you mean?"-results.

                  A new one... I just got this, searching for: libmad +tutorial

                  Several results with "Missing: +tutorial"... Why are results included that do not contain the word 'tutorial'?

                  • dannysullivan 7 days ago

                    Again, the + symbol isn't a command and does nothing. If you searched for [libmad +tutorial] we saw that as as search for pages with both or either of two words, libmad OR +tutorial, plus any related words or synonyms, like tutorial.

                    So with that search, we're trying to show you things we think are relevant, and there aren't a lot of pages relevant with the word +tutorial on them. Tutorial, yes -- but not +tutorial.

                    In this case, what you really want is this: [libmad "tutorial"] -- that says get pages that have both words or words related to libmad but ONLY pages that actually have the word tutorial on them.

                  • skripp 7 days ago

                    libmad "tutorial". The + does nothing.

                    • cobbaut 7 days ago

                      So basically always double quote every word. Thanks.

              • towolf 7 days ago

                Are you aware of the "Tools -> Verbatim" mode?

                • cobbaut 7 days ago

                  Yes I am very aware of this.

                  Can it be set as default?

                  Verbatim will still include results with other characters between "franciscus xaverius"than a space. Like a ( or a dot. It includes results containing a phrase that ends with Fransciscus. And the next phrase beginning with Xaverius. This is useless when searching ancestors.

                  I know the service is free, but it would be really cool to be able to search for any (ASCII) string verbatim.

        • nikanj 7 days ago

          This implies "we do ignore the terms that are not quoted", which has been a common source of grievance with Google.

          Planning your trip ahead, you search for pizza restaurant Chicago. Google ignores 2/3 of your terms and returns local restaurants that serve Vietnamese.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            We don't support quoted restriction for local results -- results in a local box -- as the post explains. It also says that's something we're looking at for a further improvement.

            • nulbyte 7 days ago

              What is "a local box"? It sounds like GP was performing a regular web search. Surely you don't mean you ignore quotes just because I put the name of a city as a search term.

              • dannysullivan 7 days ago

                No, we don't. Which is why I specifically said local box (it's when we show local results almost always with a map -- the post explains this more). If it's a regular web search, and these are web pages about a local place, quotes work the same as with any web page.

          • martin_a 7 days ago

            Sounds like you use Google Fit, they will probably optimize your food recommendations based on your health information. ;-)

        • wakeupcall 7 days ago

          I don't have relevant queries at hand as you only notice when searching for specific documentation, however terms often weren't in the quoted snippets, but most critically not in the page and nowhere in the cached content as well (assuming the cache reflects what has been indexed). I could simply search for any of the term and not find it at all. Similar case for Bing BTW.

          Assuming this is going to improve, were I would submit an example of this not working in the future?

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            Yes, I'd be happy to review an example if you have it come up in the future.

        • dangerface 7 days ago

          Google often returns results that just don't contain keywords, not talking about snippets or stop words im talking about the first keyword not appearing in any of the results on the first page but it shows up on page 2.

          • mianos 7 days ago

            They seem to be denying this left right and centre on this item. In another thread they said it is due to bugs.

        • mannykannot 7 days ago

          When Google dropped the special meaning of a ‘+’ prefix, the change was not obvious to me (and, I imagine, many other people) because some responses would nevertheless contain the specified term. Consequently, the experience came across as just another degradation of quality.

        • mongol 7 days ago

          I hope Google can bring back the plus operator, as Google+ is now buried.

          • yreg 7 days ago

            Quotes do the exact same thing that + did back then.

        • jacquesm 7 days ago

          Why not simply revert to the old, sane option?

        • freshbright 7 days ago

          I use to be able to filter out websites like amazon from shopping search results with -, no longer works and I hate amazon.

        • chicob 7 days ago

          What about the "-"?

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            It still works, if you mean the - symbol.

            • chicob 7 days ago
              • JoshuaEddy 7 days ago

                I think what trying to exclude the .br TLD. Have you tried the "site:" syntax which can include or exclude domains. Loke this:

                teste de lingua portuguesa -site:.br

                • chicob 7 days ago

                  I often do it this way because it used worked in the past, and it works in other search engines.

              • TristanDaCunha 7 days ago

                Well this is a more complex case which includes combining negation with quotation and punctuation marks. I'll bet those factors explain why it didn't work.

                • chicob 7 days ago

                  Searching for 'Edgar Allen Poe -"The Raven"' does work as intended.

                  The search I printed was trying to omit some addresses (and I now realize quotes are not necessary and do not help for this specific case), but it did find a result with the term I was trying to avoid as a string.

                • chicob 7 days ago

                  I'm not an expert, but isn't this as simple as "omitting results that have whatever is found inside the quotes"?

            • chicob 7 days ago

              I don't understand why your comment is being downvoted. Downvotes shouldn't be used as a form of simple disagreement. I made a simple question, you gave it a simple answer.

              • danaris 7 days ago

                I think that actually raises an interesting question:

                Should downvotes be used when a comment states a fact, but the voter knows or believes that fact to be false?

            • chicob 7 days ago

              In all fairness, it does work without the quotes.

      • monetus 7 days ago

        Surely someone internally would have foreseen that? How in the hell was that greenlit.

        • jlampa 7 days ago

          They have foreseen it, and the plus sign was replaced by quotation marks.

          • jonathanstrange 7 days ago

            I thought these meant something else:

            +: the term following must be in the text (but may be stemmed)

            "": search for exactly this phrase (not stemmed)

            So for example: +hiking => a term like hike, hiking, hiker, etc. must be on the page

            +"hiking" => the string "hiking" must be on the page

            "hiking" trekking outdoor => look for the string "hiking" and preferably return results that contain it, though hits for trekking and outdoor (stemmed) suffice

            But apparently I'm wrong, and "" and + don't mean that any longer?

            • dannysullivan 7 days ago

              + hasn't been an operator for years with us now. Quotes mean find the exact term indicated, no stemming, nothing -- just an exact match.

          • jacquesm 7 days ago

            That's about as user unfriendly as it gets. Such things work their way into your muscle memory and to annoy 100% of your power users for some social media play that has nothing to do with search is textbook monopolistic behavior.

            • corobo 7 days ago

              Definitely their jump the shark moment for me.

              I know people (me included if I'm truly honest with myself) are still peeved about Reader but Google Plus was the Search service's sharkjump for me I think.

              Don't teach me how to use your engine perfectly for 20 years then change it for some half baked social thing lmao.

              I hope someone got a pisstake massive raise off it so it was at least worth something to someone!

    • slazaro 7 days ago

      It just happened to me, where I added a "-word" term to narrow it down and the number of results increased somehow. That means that they're doing something behind the scenes that's not as simple as "remove all results that contain "word".

      • dannysullivan 7 days ago

        I work for Google Search. Yes, totally agree, it's weird when the count goes up. It's something I hope we can fix. But it's not because we ignored the - symbol. It's because the counts are very fast, rough estimates. And when you go into additional pages, we start to refine them. IE: we actually found more than the count displayed on the first page.

        • tomrod 7 days ago

          > I work for Google Search

          A tangent. You have what I imagine is a hard job and, despite the many threads here about recent apparent quality decreases, the product brings enormous value to its users.

          Thanks for taking the time to discuss in this thread, it is very helpful to see your insights.

          • dannysullivan 7 days ago

            Thank you. Forum discussions here and in other places are really useful ways to gather feedback. It directly drove the improvement we launched this week.

      • lupire 7 days ago

        The "number" of results doesn't mean anything beyond a rough guess. it's an ad promlting the size of the index. You'll never be able to reach nearly all of them.

    • PeterisP 7 days ago

      IIRC not really, at least some times it will still return documents that do not have the exact "+'ed" term in it.

      • dreen 7 days ago

        - works, quoting a word was the same as +

        • breakingcups 7 days ago

          - doesn't work for pinterest

          • strken 7 days ago

            When I enter the exact string "bed design ideas" into google images it includes pinterest results, while "bed design ideas -pinterest" excludes them. Is there a specific failure case for you?

          • Xelbair 7 days ago


            works perfectly, and i use it in my all queries where i search for images.

            • appleflaxen 7 days ago

              This should be the default, TBH. Why google thinks that an image search leading to pinterest is going to be helpful is beyond comprehension.

              • iggldiggl 7 days ago

                If the original source is still online I indeed prefer it, but occasionally some images of interest only survive on Pinterest, in which case a Pinterest result is better than nothing.

                Another thing is probably how images are indexed in the first place. Historically image search could only look at the text surrounding the image (and the alt-text, if provided) to get some sort of tenuous idea what an image was about. Pinterest provides some additional tags for each image, which can help make it more discoverable.

                Of course these days Google also runs image recognition (and OCR) on the images it indexes, but I suppose sometimes the tags added by Pinterest still provide some additional context without which the original image wouldn't have been found.

              • rasz 7 days ago

                >Why google thinks that an image search leading to pinterest is going to be helpful is beyond comprehension.

                Both founder/ex ceo and current ceo came from Google. Pinterest directly deposits >$xxxmil/quarter into google.

            • danaris 7 days ago

              I've found that sometimes I have to also exclude specific "*.pinimg.com" (or something similar; don't recall the domain for certain offhand) domains, especially when doing an image search.

          • shever73 7 days ago

            I use two Chrome extensions “Unpinterested!” for Google and “Not Pinterested” for Ecosia that both remove Pinterest’s search engine effluent from results.

        • unicornporn 7 days ago

          This is the right answer and I was under the impression that this was in the the Google fu crash course these days.

      • manholio 7 days ago

        "-" still works, "+" was bastardized when Google launched Google+ but you can get similar functionality by surrounding your term in quotes, preventing it to be dropped.

        • gandalfgreybeer 7 days ago

          “-“ works but I’ve seen it fail so many times that I’m more surprised when it actually filters it properly nowadays.

  • 202206241203 7 days ago

    I got an idea: make search engine take useful results that you want and DALL-E them with ads to serve you mock websites with plausible content.

noduerme 7 days ago

Okay, except the quote operator doesn't work as described and hasn't worked that way in at least 10 years. "Did you mean x?" No, asshole, I put what I meant in quotes.

  • dannysullivan 7 days ago

    I work for Google search. It does work as described. If you have an example you're comfortable sharing where you feel it doesn't, I'd be happy to have the team look into it.

    • rexreed 7 days ago

      To be fair, very little of what Google search does works as described lately. Google is not about retrieving search results, it's about displaying advertising and promoting content that is related to your query, but not your specific query. Google search hasn't worked as described for at least 10-12 years.

    • memcg 7 days ago

      Is it possible that some variations in results are caused by variations in what phone vs desktop, apps or browsers send to google when people search?

      FYI, I have my Windows Desktop Firefox homepage set to Google Advanced Search: https://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en&fg=1 and I never (almost) logon to my google account when I search. It would be nice to add "site or domain:" exclusions.

    • noduerme 7 days ago

      Next time one comes up I'll post back. I'd say I almost always try it in conjunction with the + operator, and my sense is one or the other is often ignored.

      • dannysullivan 4 days ago

        If you're using that with the +, yes, + is being ignored. It hasn't been an operator for years. That's what the quote operators are for. If you search for something in quotes, that's the same as it used to be when you'd use +. IE, if you used to do this:

        [+find +all +of +these +"words and phrases"]

        After the + operator support ended years ago, in favor of quotes, this is how you would (and still should) do it:

        ["find" "all" "of" "these" "words and phrases"]

hedora 7 days ago

Now, if only they could solve the problem where the text they index does not match the text my browser displays.

I've seen a few searches recently (on DDG) where the indexed text is apparently hidden behind an authentication wall.

Google's cached page feature used to fix those sorts of shenanigans.

  • benreesman 7 days ago

    I’m still trying to forgive them for cutting the cached page feature. On the long slide from “the best thing on the Internet” to the eventual destination of “fuck this, fuck this in particular” that will probably for me be the moment the sign flipped.

    • MauranKilom 7 days ago

      Wait what? It's still there for me on every result...

      • mgdlbp 7 days ago

        Yea. I wonder how it becomes disabled for a site. Manually? Looking around, I only see 4chan and Instagram not having any cached pages available.

    • amelius 7 days ago

      It was probably removed for legal reasons.

  • MonkeyMalarky 7 days ago

    Ah the good ol "whitelist the google bot IPs but pop-up paywalls for everyone else" trick. It'd be cool if google randomized their crawler's IPs and made their bot look like just another user, then we'd all get the same viewing experience.

    • chrismarlow9 7 days ago

      Pretty old grey hat SEO tactic called cloaking. It has evolved from using basic js with obfuscation to redirect users to more sophisticated tactics where users are lured in via serps only to tell them they must sign in.

      This used to be a plague in the serps for technical error searches and Pinterest in the image searches.

      The problem with the random ip proposal is that it is a cat and mouse game. If I own 1000 sites on various topics and cross reference visits via IP, well now it's not very random anymore. At one point there was even a services (fantomas) that kept an updated database.

      This goes very deep in black hat SEO history with mosaic cloaking and other tactics.

      I used this as a teen in the earlier days of Google to make decent pocket change, and that was in the early 2000s.

      It goes even deeper when you get into parasite hosting tactics with paid backlinks and xrumer.

      What's funny is all of these old school black hat seos have moved on to social media. PVA social accounts combined with AI rewriting are where the magic is now and don't even get me started on repurposed content via YouTube. It's no longer economical to tackle organic serps.

      Heck I even have a bot that scans popular linked domains and monitors the expiration date on them for quick snatch with a nice grafana ui on it. And I've got quite a few nice domains with easy passive traffic and zero effort. All you do is restore the latest archive.org snapshots and setup a catch all email for leads.

      Dall e and gpt 3 are going to turn these into legit businesses.

      My point is if there is money to be made people will automate to the extreme. If you dig deep you'll realize an IP address doesn't mean much, hence recaptcha.

      • stef25 7 days ago

        > Heck I even have a bot that scans popular linked domains and monitors the expiration date on them for quick snatch with a nice grafana ui on it. And I've got quite a few nice domains with easy passive traffic and zero effort. All you do is restore the latest archive.org snapshots and setup a catch all email for leads.

        That's crazy. How does restoring an archive.org snapshot work, you just dump static html on the domain?

        Are those mostly just content sites?

        • chrismarlow9 7 days ago

          There are a few out there ready to go. Here's one


          You just dump and sync to s3 and use terraform to provision the route53 and bucket setups.

          Yes they are mostly content sites. The hardest part is filtering adult domains assuming you don't want them. There are a staggering number of adult domains that expire every year and get huge traffic.

          • stef25 7 days ago

            So you're purely dumping static html pages on those domains?

            Can you grab assets like images or even video from archive.org?

      • rawoke083600 7 days ago

        >Pretty old grey hat SEO tactic called cloaking. It has evolved from using basic js with obfuscation to redirect users to more sophisticated tactics where users are lured in via serps only to tell them they must sign in.

        Yup ! I find it MOST frustrating on "Google Discover" news-feed-stories on my Android phone.

    • jfoster 7 days ago

      My understanding is that Google have a policy against sites doing that. Does Google not enforce the policy sufficiently, or are there exceptions made?

      • nostromo 7 days ago

        Google’s policy shifted. You can show the crawler full text of an article and then put it behind a paywall for example.

        • MonkeyMalarky 7 days ago

          Not only does that benefit the site owners, it benefits Google by creating a moat. Any new entrant to search is initially restricted to the same content as you or I.

          • orangeoxidation 7 days ago

            Doesn't it make search worse though? I don't like my searches to end at paywalls and Google being able to do more of that doesn't seem an advantage.

    • generalizations 7 days ago

      I think there's an extension that lets you fake your user agent, and one of the options is to present like you're the googlebot. Haven't tried it, but wouldn't that bypass that trick?

      • Siira 7 days ago

        No. The Google IPs come from known subnets.

        • danuker 7 days ago

          Maybe some sites just check the User Agent, not the IP.

    • klabb3 7 days ago

      Google should just make their cache accessible. Want to Paywall and be indexed, ie eat and have the cookie too? Don't be upset when your readers access it through the cache.

      • sen 7 days ago

        That was one of my favorite features of Google as it let you see pages while the host server was down or if the content had been removed.

        Yet another actually-useful-for-users feature that got removed because profits.

        • kccqzy 7 days ago

          I thought that was because many news sites pressured Google not to support it. The cache feature still works for certain sites like personal blogs.

          • klabb3 7 days ago

            I don't get this mentality. First you go through hoops to serve the Google crawler with a full version of the article. Then you get pissed when Google presents it to the user.

            I think the publishers should go ahead and create their own paywall content search engine but I would like the option to have my search results actually be available when I click them.

        • ricardo81 7 days ago

          It's not removed, just less visible. Webmasters also have the option of hinting that they don't want a page cached, which some use.

  • MauranKilom 7 days ago

    > if only they could solve the problem where the text they index does not match the text my browser displays

    Half the article is about this thing. I mean, they don't present solutions, but most of the reasons for "Ctrl+F doesn't find the terms" are entirely reasonable to me.

  • klabb3 7 days ago

    The cache is actually a good feature, much more welcome than the forced amp-ification. If a website is bloated, paywalled, or offline, I can simply check the cache on an opt-in basis.

    Seems like they've made the cache harder and harder to find over the years.

zild3d 7 days ago

> Years ago, many people used operators because search engines sometimes needed additional guidance. Things have advanced since then, so operators are often no longer necessary.

Except it's been regressing to where operators are often more necessary again

  • alecco 7 days ago

    It's not entirely Google's fault. SEO-oriented content is ruining the web. It's a battle I'm not sure search engines can win.

    Keyword indexing and PageRank worked for a while because the underlying data wasn't written trying to game them. Then came spam linking and keyword stuffing and more. I'm surprised search engines are still useful in spite of that.

beej71 7 days ago

For some reason, this bit of the movie Whiplash came to mind:

Terence Fletcher: Really? Adjusting the seat, really? That's been your problem the whole fucking time, the seat height? So now you have it, right? Go!

[Ryan starts playing]

Terence Fletcher: Bullshit! Fuck you!

bearmode 7 days ago

"Punctuation is sometimes seen as spaces. Our systems see some punctuation as spaces, which impacts quoted searches. For example, a search for [“don’t doesn’t”] tells our systems to find content that contains all these letters in this order:

don t doesn t"

This is one of the most annoying things tbh, when you specifically need to include special characters it just gives you garbage

chaosbolt 7 days ago

Google and Youtube search are heavily censored, for example if you open Youtube and type "JRE alex" then Alex Jones will be the last suggestion despite his episode having the most views, if you type "JRE Robert" then Youtube will suggest Robert Downey Jr and other guests whose name starts with Robert, but it won't show Robert Malone, and if you write "JRE Robert Malon" it still won't suggest it.

Now those episodes have been controversial, and I only bring them up because it's the example that came to my head (before someone misses the whole point and starts looking at the finger), and Google Search also censors them, now while I still use google mainly to access Stackoverflow and Reddit threads, I see no point in using it if I'm searching for anything I want a neutral conversation about that I can examine and make my own conclusion.

All in all the internet seems to be getting smaller and smaller, I don't use any social media apart from HN and Reddit, and I only use Reddit because I seem to still be addicted to it since it's probably one of the most censored of all of them.

10 years ago as a 20 year old I benefited greatly from how the internet was, here is an example: I grew up on the idea that there was nothing wrong with porn, and there isn't per se, and no one ever spoke about addiction like behavior when it came to watching it, then one day I discover a controversial post on Reddit and dove down the rabbit hole and lo and behold I had the same problems as this community of people trying to quit watching it, and I benefited from their experiences and knowledge, same about discovering communities against social media like Facebook, which pushed me to research the subject and deleting my account, etc. but now it seems like any controversial community is quickly banned or pushed aside in its own unfindable bubble and that to me is a great loss.

I want to see people have an opposite opinion than mine, and I want to be able to get into heated non censored discussions in comment sections and get suggestions about articles, studies and content to challenge my views.

  • bambax 7 days ago

    > Google and Youtube search are heavily censored, for example if you open Youtube and type "JRE alex" then Alex Jones will be the last suggestion despite his episode having the most views

    This is provably untrue. I just searched YT for "JRE Alex" and the first three results are clips from the "JRE" show (I didn't know what that acronym was before now) featuring Alex Jones [0].

    Why are people repeating these complotist theories when it takes five seconds to disprove them.

    Also, even if it was true (which it isn't), it still wouldn't be censoring. Censoring would mean not returning results when a match exist -- not massaging the SERP. It would also mean not publishing clips from said "censored" content on Google's own video platform, where they have millions of views.

    In France there is a controversial (to say the least) comedian, Dieudonné, a holocaust denier and an anti-semite. He's heavily censored by the French government who regularly bans his shows; but canceling his YT channel happened only recently, after a lot of interventions by the state and other non-governmental agencies.

    It's been my experience that Google is quite resistant to censoring, in general.

    [0] Here are the top three results on YT for "JRE Alex":

        Alex Jones - God Doesn't Know Where He Came From | Joe Rogan
        2.6M views 3 years ago
        JRE Clips
        Taken from Joe Rogan Experience #1255 w/Alex Jones: https://youtu.be/-5yh2HcIlkU.
        Joe Rogan Experience #911 - Alex Jones & Eddie Bravo
        13M views Streamed 5 years ago
        Alex Jones is a radio show host, filmmaker, writer, and conspiracy theorist. Eddie Bravo is a jiujitsu black belt, music producer, and ...
        Joe Rogan Experience #1555 - Alex Jones & Tim Dillon
        23M views 1 year ago
        Tim Dillon is a standup comedian, actor, and host of the Tim Dillon Show. Alex Jones is a filmmaker, writer, and host of the Alex ...
    • chaosbolt 7 days ago

      >This is provably untrue

      I'm not talking about when you click search (even though that itself is censored), I talk about when you're writing on the search bar and see the suggestions in the dropdown, and that isn't untrue for me at all since I verified that it still was there before writing my comment.

      • jeromegv 7 days ago

        So the result is still accessible through the search, but you would want it "suggested"?

        You claim you want to see Alex Jones because you want to be challenged in your opinions, but is that possible that SUGGESTING Alex Jones is actually causing harm to many people? It might not cause you harm, but if we suggest it to people that might not have looked for it otherwise, we are sending people down the line of starting to harass parents of victims. It seems clear to me why it's not suggested. Perhaps for you it doesn't matter, it' just to "challenge" your views. Obviously, your kid wasn't shot in a school and you don't have people calling you every hour of the day to tell you you're a criminal that just made it up and have random people going to your house and fire at your house.

        Perhaps your personal freedom must stop when it starts causing violence.

        Again.. those videos are still there in the search results, just the suggested terms are not there.

        • godshatter 7 days ago

          I'm not the parent poster, and this is just a reaction to the specific wording of "causing violence", not an attack on your beliefs or anything.

          In my opinion, showing a suggestion in a drop-down box in a YT search field with "Alex Jones" in it does not equate to "causing violence". I get your point about some people (such as parents of Sandy Hook victims) being caused harm just by seeing his name, but equating that to "causing violence" just waters down the term. I lost a parent to leukemia years ago and seeing references to the disease causes me slight bits of "harm". I wouldn't even call it that, though maybe I would have directly after they died. It's not "violence" though, because that presupposes a type of deliberate one-on-one physical harm that even the most well-engineered drop-down menu can be expected to achieve. It's also not something I would expect the developers at YouTube to be working hard to shield me from.

          In my opinion, personal freedom needs a much higher bar before it can be restricted than seeing personal names in drop-down menus in search boxes. I get that this sentiment is going the way of the dinosaurs these days, but I at least still believe in it.

        • cal85 7 days ago

          > Perhaps your personal freedom must stop when it starts causing violence.

          Just about everyone agrees that personal freedom does not extend to causing violence. The difficult bit is what constitutes 'causing'.

        • chaosbolt 7 days ago

          >Now those episodes have been controversial, and I only bring them up because it's the example that came to my head (before someone misses the whole point and starts looking at the finger)

          As you can see in my initial post.. or maybe you don't, I avoid talking about things like this on HN because most people here are smart enough to look between the lines but some only pretend to look at the finger to win an argument, well..

          I was talking about censorship, and I don't "want" or "not want" Alex Jones to be suggested, and I won't pretend to tell a private company how to do their business, so I just stopped using Youtube and most other social media.

          >Perhaps your personal freedom must stop when it starts causing violence. Of course if you call for violence on others, but if I say that people of party X are liars, then my fans start attacking them on the street, am I causing harm or are my fans the ones who cause the harm? If it's my fault then most politicians call each other liars and criminals every other week...

          Also about the children thing I'm not up to date with it, but I know he said Sandy Hook was fake and something happened (I'm not American), but the guy says lots of crazy stuff and always has, it's still not a reason to censor anyone.

          I doubt you'll understand how small steps like this can lead to somethings that in hindsight we see as catastrophic, but a system (like soviet russia or nazi germany) is built step by step, today we censor you, tomorrow we deepfake the president's face and post it on twitter, very soon we throw you in a concentration camp.

          >but is that possible that SUGGESTING Alex Jones is actually causing harm to many people?

          There are videos of kids challenging each other to balance on the rooftop of a skyscraper, videos of Islamic priests calling for the death of unbelievers, ads for fast-food with a shit ton of sugar and fat, videos on how to make high powered infrared lasers that can blind someone without even being visible to the naked eye, videos of home made guns, etc... and they all get suggested in the search bar once you type in a few words.

          Other thoughts:

          Also an important thing to note is that the Alex Jones lies (that he maybe believed since he's not 100% in there) on Sandy Hook resulted in zero deaths. Mainstream media and CIA misinformation on weapons of mass destruction resulted in 1 million+ innocent Iraqis dying in "Operation Iraqi Freedom" yet no one has ever tried to ban them from anything, are those Iraqi kids just not that important? Are they less than us because they're not white?

          Alex Jones and Johnny Depp gets publicly televised trials but none for Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, all the "terrorist suspects" in Guantanamo, Julian Assange, and so on and so forth

          I never would have thought that in the 21th century in the first world I'd be arguing FOR freedom of speech while being talked down to as the bad guy.

      • Aunche 7 days ago

        JRE Alex Jones appears as my first suggestion as soon as I type "JRE Al". "JRE Robert" initially didn't show Robert Malone, but I didn't know who he was, and after I searched his name, his Joe Rogan podcast appeared as a suggestion. Honestly, it sounds like you're coming into this with a huge preconceived notion that Google goes out of the way to mildly inconvenience the far right. If you really care about "conservative censorship", ask your Republican representatives to make Google a common carrier instead of virtue signalling about how bad big tech is to score cheap political points.

        • chaosbolt 7 days ago

          >Honestly, it sounds like you're coming into this with a huge preconceived notion that Google goes out of the way to mildly inconvenience the far right.

          If you think any tech company doesn't do this then you've been living under a rock for the past 5 years. All you have to do is look for some videos or upload one yourself about certain subjects and see.

          >If you really care about "conservative censorship", ask your Republican representatives to make Google a common carrier instead of virtue signaling about how bad big tech is to score cheap political points.

          I'm not American, and don't care about conservatives or democrats, and the only politician I admire is Bernie Sanders, but we all know he'll never win because (even though he's on the left), he's a good man. I just used to admire the freedoms you guys had that's all, how Nixon had to resign because of Watergate, meanwhile Clinton did worse to Sanders and no one even cared, Biden's daughter's journal got out where she describes weird things and no one cares, his son being a crackhead and no one cares, imagine if Trump's son got pictures of him doing crack and tell me how you think the media would have reacted.

          The ideal world would be libertarian, do whatever you want without hurting others, a few decades ago it seemed like the world was moving towards this direction but not anymore, it doesn't matter anyways since humans have the same DNA we did 100 years ago so we'll probably repeat the same mistakes over and over again, we seem to organize in systems that eventually move towards violence and oppression, and people in 100 years from now will ask the same question we ask about "how could X people allow Y to get into power".

          None of this will ever change until maybe we figure out a way to transcend our genetic encoding or evolve out of our current situation (which is unlikely to happen since usually the bad people are the ones who survive our wars, famines and dictatorships).

      • bambax 7 days ago

        This is also provably untrue.

        The YT search box suggests "JRE Alex Jones" for "JRE alex" not once but twice, once in the second position and once in the 9th position as "JRE Alex Jones Returns".

        Conspirationists used to infer evil motives behind random events. That itself was bad enough. But now they are inventing new facts entirely, that never existed, or pretend things that did happen in plain sight didn't. (Such as... Alex Jones and Sandy Hooks).

        It's a sorry state of affairs.

    • Flankk 7 days ago

      Everyone gets different search results. Suppressing content is a form of censorship. You're just out of the loop. Silicon valley is left wing. Anyone paying attention can see they're using these platforms to enact social change. What do you think this whole Elon/Twitter thing was about?

      • bambax 7 days ago

        > What do you think this whole Elon/Twitter thing was about?

        Interesting that the first version of your comment didn't include that; you added it as an afterthought.

        I don't know what you think "this whole Elon/Twitter thing" is about. What I think is, it's about Musk being bored and saying one thing one day, and another another day, and having armies of lawyers scrambling around to clean up the mess he makes. Musk hates lawyers; I think he enjoys giving them unwinnable cases.

        But do you think Musk is trying to fight "left wing censorship"? Or was? (since he doesn't want to buy Twitter anymore).

        Please share your opinions or insights, because we can't guess what's on your mind.

        • Flankk 6 days ago

          You didn't acknowledge your lack of understanding about search results. The algorithm suppresses results based on location data. Ranking is based on your prior search history. Censorship varies by country. There is no point in continuing discussion when you are ignoring my points entirely.

        • chaosbolt 7 days ago

          >I don't know what you think "this whole Elon/Twitter thing" is about. What I think is, it's about Musk being bored and saying one thing one day, and another another day, and having armies of lawyers scrambling around to clean up the mess he makes. Musk hates lawyers; I think he enjoys giving them unwinnable cases.

          >But do you think Musk is trying to fight "left wing censorship"? Or was? (since he doesn't want to buy Twitter anymore).

          You probably don't see the bias in what you say but if I say that say some left wing tech guy did something to push his agenda you'll probably say "that's conspiracy theory" then you go on and say the exact same thing about Elon, sure he probably doesn't care about it that much as to spend 44 billion $ to try and fix it, but he's been talking about it for a very long time, if you see some of his interviews from 2018 where he speaks about AI (in that context he means something different) he gives the example of the emergent system that's made from Twitter and its users becoming by itself an entity with its own motives, etc. (imagine the brain where each neuron is a used and the rules between their communication is twitter, the neurons can't conceptualize what the brain wants or means or tries to do, but as a whole it's something more than its components).

jedwhite 7 days ago

Note here - they aren't changing what results are returned when you search with quotes, they are just highlighting what you searched with quotes in bold in the snippet displays in the search results page.

O__________O 7 days ago

@dannysullivan (Google’s public liaison of Search [1]; he is commenting in this thread)

- What is the best way to ping you and how do I format my search bugs/features in a way that makes it easy for them to be processed by Google?

- Already pointed out and documented replication issues in another comment in this thread [2].


[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=dannysullivan

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32354078

  • dannysullivan 7 days ago

    You can ping me here on Hacker News, probably best to reply to this, and I can watch for replies. I'm also on Twitter, @dannysullivan

    For search issues, if people are comfortable, it's always best to share the exact query that was used. Putting it within brackets, as if those are the search box, can be helpful. Like if you searched for "this that" as a quoted search, ["this that"] would represent it. Explain what the issue is, list any particular URLs if helpful, screenshots if those are also helpful.

throwntoday 7 days ago

There was a moment in time where quotes and negeation hyphens were completely ignored. I have no idea why they ever thought that was a good idea.

  • colechristensen 7 days ago

    I still find that they often don’t do what i intend them to

    • metadat 7 days ago

      Yes, this. 50% of the time or more I need to flip to the burger "advanced" menu and add the "Verbatim" constraint.

      Apparently Google search has been optimized for the lowest common denominator of an idiot.

      Truly shameful. If anything, it's the idiots who should be forced to use the UX of lesser idiots like myself. Let them select the "Hazy" constraint from the advanced menu.

      If DDG (or any alternative not incentivized to serve dimwits) would do this by default, I'd switch in a heartbeat and never look back.

      • phailhaus 7 days ago

        Not a good idea, because it's much easier to figure out "google is treating my query too loosely" than "google is treating my query too strictly and there is such a thing as 'looser'". People would just think the results suck.

        Instead, it should be possible to set that as a preference so that it persists across your searches.

        • metadat 7 days ago

          This is still optimizing for the LCD of an idiot. Ignoring quotes is unforgivable, IMHO.

          If I could opt out of this shitty Big-G reality by means other than suicide, I gladly would.

          • phailhaus 7 days ago

            You are firmly in the minority, probably by an order of magnitude. Sorry, never happening.

      • danuker 7 days ago

        Thank you for mentioning "Verbatim".

        As for the "hazy" mode, I suspect it's the defaut because it uses a cheaper, smaller index limited to popular queries.

    • Thorrez 7 days ago

      What do you intend it to do? Do you dislike that it looks in hidden text (e.g. img alt text), or that it ignores punctuation?

      Or are you saying it returns pages without the text on it at all? I don't think that's the case.

      Disclosure: I work at Google, but not Search.

      • colechristensen 7 days ago

        When I quote "two words" in a group I expect to only get results based on those two words, spelled with those characters, exactly as quoted. Not split, not with different spelling or related meanings, not with anything but actually the string of bytes which I have quoted.

        • Thorrez 6 days ago

          Google doesn't replace them with split versions (except that it ignores punctuation), nor does it replace them with different spellings or related meanings. The words you search for will be there, in order, the only difference will be all whitespace and punctuation is treated as a space.

          >string of bytes which I have quoted

          That's tricky. What if there's a line break? What if you search for "some text" but the html contains "some <b>text</b>"? Punctuation would be a problem too. What if you searched for something with "-" (hyphen-minus, unicode 0x2d), but the page contained a "‐" (hyphen, unicode 0x2010)? What if you searched for something with a dumb quote, but the page contained a smart quote? What if you searched for something with a space but the page contained a non-breaking space?

  • epistasis 7 days ago

    It could also be that the quoted term was in the page source, but not visible when doing a ctrl-f search from within a web browser. Whenever I have been frustrated that a term didn't appear in the visible text, it did show up in the source. So my searches were paying attention to the term, but not in a way that I cared about as a user.

    • sidibe 7 days ago

      What I'm reading again and again in the comments is that people are 100% sure this wasnt happening. But that would suggest they were clicking on the results that weren't what they wanted according to the snippet and Ctrl+F'ing. I'd be surprised so many people do that

      • epistasis 7 days ago

        I'm not sure I follow what you are saying.

        Are you suggesting that people will discard a result based on the snippet presented? I ignore the snippets entirely, as they are seldom relevant, and click each link in the results.

        Especially if I have put quotes around a word I really want.

  • notacoward 7 days ago

    Somebody got a good review for breaking it (but improving some other metric), somebody will get a good review for fixing it. Net result for users is zero, but all the churn looks like productivity in a "metrics based" GAMMA review process. I've seen worse.

    (Same problem with GDP as a measure of economic productivity BTW, but that's a topic for another day.)

  • wetpaws 7 days ago

    Cause they likely have some internal metrics we are not aware of that has a priority over the search quality.

jrm4 7 days ago

I'm amused at how an equally valid headline would be

"Search results will continue to suck for those who aren't tech-savvy enough to use quotes"

  • danuker 7 days ago

    They don't mention anything about result quality, just snippet quality.

cycomanic 7 days ago

Google search is generally so much worse than it used to be. They are improving search with quotes... great thanks please also make it really just contain exact phrases (at least for me I often get none exact results even with quotes). Location is terribly annoying if I'm in France and go to Google.de maybe I do want German results, not google thinking just because I have an IP from a certain place I want results from that place (do Google employees not travel?). I now seem to often enough get results which might not contain any of the search results I'm looking for, I guess because somehow a ML algorithm thought they might be relevant (hint, usually they are not). And then there are all these content regurgitators which for some topics just guarantees completely irrelevant results.

I admit not all of this is Googles fault, but somehow everybody largely optimising (and exploiting) for the Google algorithm, makes it worse for them. Alternative engines seem to fare better, and I guess less Google dominance is a good thing.

mixedmath 7 days ago

I wish that google would enable quote search functionality for youtube too. That is, if I put quotes around a youtube search, then it will only return results containing that in the title or description, and not show related videos or anything like that.

endisneigh 7 days ago

Ultimately one thing people misunderstand is what it means philosophically to search.

Suppose I have some great content "bt its writen lik dis". One could argue saying searching for content with the query 'like this' should yield the previous statement. Others would disagree.

That's basically the crux of the problem. The more exactness you're demanding the fewer results you will receive. The fewer results that are available reduce the perceived utility of the search engine, Google in this case.

Case in point: I've been searching for some "FoundationDB" related stuff. If you use HN's algolia for "Foundation DB" (no quotes) it will show you queries where FoundationDB is a single word.

Is this good or bad?


  • jodrellblank 7 days ago

    > "That's basically the crux of the problem. The more exactness you're demanding the fewer results you will receive. The fewer results that are available reduce the perceived utility of the search engine."

    I disagree, so I went to search for the Joel Spolsky blog post at joelonsoftware.com from antiquity where he complains that search engines prioritise finding 5,000,000 results instead of the result you want, and that's completely useless because you can never read that many results. DuckDuckGo changed my search because "Not many results contain 'joelonsoftware" and then offered to search for what I typed in, if I arm twisted it. I only wanted one result, and think less of DDG for changing what I tried, in order to give me more results, instead of what I wanted.

    It's here[1][2] from 22 years ago and says "there are three important ideas from computer science which are, frankly, wrong, and people are starting to notice. I’m sure there are more, but these have been driving me to distraction: 1. The difficult part about searching is finding enough results," then "Most of the academic work on searching is positively obsessed with problems like “what happens if you search for ‘car’, and the document you want says ‘automobile'”. So when the big Internet search engines like Altavista first came out, they bragged about how they found zillions of results. An Altavista search for Joel on Software yields 1,033,555 pages. This is, of course, useless. The known Internet contains maybe a billion pages. By reducing the search from one billion to one million pages, Altavista has done absolutely nothing for me."

    The fewer, better, results that are available increase the perceived utility of the search engine.

    [1] https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/08/22/three-wrong-ideas-...

    [2] I tried a couple of DDG searches including inurl: and site: then switched to Google, went through 4 pages of results, and a couple of searches, before "site:joelonsoftware.com "useless" "results"" got it at the top.

  • makeitdouble 7 days ago

    > That's basically the crux of the problem. The more exactness you're demanding the fewer results you will receive. The fewer results that are available reduce the perceived utility of the search engine, Google in this case.

    Isn't the use of quotes an explicit request from the user to have fewer results and more exactness ?

    If you do a default search, the question of 'lik dis' being included or not is pertinent. Putting quotes puts you straight into the "don't show me variations" camp.

  • darkhorse222 7 days ago

    When I'm using quotes it's usually because the first, unquoted search ended up not being fruitful. In a world of algorithmic nonsense, quotes turn google back into what it should be best at: being an index.

  • chrismcb 7 days ago

    I would argue that a search for "like this"without quotes should maybe find that page. But the search with quotes should not find it.

  • DoingIsLearning 7 days ago

    > One could argue saying searching for content with the query 'like this' should yield the previous statement. Others would disagree.

    My guess is the split will follow the lines of those who were used to do meta search in library indexes and databases and those who started using computers when we already had 'natural language' in computing.

    Exactness is the whole point of search queries in my opinion. I am trying to filter out a whole universe of search space, last thing I need is second guessing heuristics.

    To me excluding that "great content" that slips through is the price to pay for accuracy.

kevin_thibedeau 7 days ago

Now they just have to solve the problem of the first results page being 100% e-commerce sites.

bitL 7 days ago

With Google+ gone, will + make a return as well?

  • pipeline_peak 7 days ago

    Yeah, to get 2010 search performance, you’ll have to buy the new Google+ Premium Service package for $5/month

    • speedgoose 7 days ago

      I would gladly pay to avoid all the SEO spam and get a better Google search experience. I think we are many there.

      Unfortunately we are not enough, and ads bring more money to Google on average than what we are willing to pay.

      • nikanj 7 days ago

        Google would also gladly pay to not have any SEO spam. It makes no money for them and annoys their customers

      • carrotcarrot 7 days ago

        There's several paid search startups to choose from. I'd rather do that than willingly part with my money for Google.

slater 7 days ago

OK, now re-implement the "-[searchterm]" filtering that used to remove all results with that searchterm, up until about a year or so ago.

Had a search last week where i specifically stated "-[big european capital city]", and results were chock full of "best [whatever] in [specified big european capital city i didn't want]"... what?!

  • dannysullivan 4 days ago

    If you don't want a city name being matched, then you need it inside of quotes and the - outside of those. From the examples you've given, it sounds like you might have it reversed. IE, there aren't correct

    ["-berlin"] ["-new york city"]

    These are the correct way to indicate you do not want (the - symbol) a word or phrase (the quote symbols:

    [-"berlin"] [-"new york city"]

stevage 7 days ago

This seems like the tiniest of tiny improvements in a tiny aspect of Google Search.

Am I missing something?

How did this become the #1 story on HN?

  • judge2020 7 days ago

    It's top HN because HN commonly sees complaints about quotes in Google Search not performing correctly; i'd link to some of these complaints, but the algolia search is needlessly fuzzy and doesn't seem to include all comments on HN.

    • zerocrates 7 days ago

      I hope you appreciated the irony.

  • wraptile 7 days ago

    It really shows how frustrated google search users are when a minor improvement is celebrated to this extent.

  • CameronNemo 7 days ago

    I think developers and technologists use this feature often to locate people experiencing the same technical issues. Don't know what an error means? Google it. With quotes.

  • robbrown451 7 days ago

    Something like that is about as key to using the web as anything. I've used quotes on searches to get an exact phrase since, what, 1995? The fact that has been broken for a long time and now fixed is absolutely worth top story of the day to me.

gotbeans 7 days ago

I'm not even mad anymore about the search quality.

Google search is such a shitfest right now, you have to scroll a full page in a 100% 4k screen to get to actual results, it's absolutely disgusting.

I don't care if they search is unoptimal or downright bad. The ad situation is so much worse IMO.

  • metadat 7 days ago

    Big-G only shows about 10 or fewer actual (non-advertisement) results on the first page, too. Regardless of screen size.

    What's up with that? Seems a little stingy.. why go to the effort of HTTP2 to deliver so few hits?

    • gotbeans 7 days ago

      The critique is about the quantity of ads, not the quantity of results.

kurtextrem 7 days ago

If an official blog post, meant for regular users, lists using the search of Chrome Dev Tools to find hidden content instead of the actual Ctrl+F search: "in Chrome, you can search from within Developer Tools to match against all rendered text, which would include the text in drop-down menus and other areas of the site." it is maybe time to change the Ctrl+F search instead of recommending regular users to use developer tools.

squeaky-clean 7 days ago

> For instance, in Chrome, you can search from within Developer Tools to match against all rendered text, which would include the text in drop-down menus and other areas of the site.

I've never thought of doing this. This would have been helpful in so many past searches.

ldjkfkdsjnv 7 days ago

The second Google starts to give in to the common complaints about search, its maybe over. Meaning, they have lost their edge, know it, and know they are vulnerable.

  • thehappypm 7 days ago

    To who, Bing? There are no serious competitors

    • carrotcarrot 7 days ago

      I use Bing, DDG, and Kagi. I also keep tagged bookmarks with Pinboard which I rely on much more than search.

      Even if people aren't finding good alternatives, they might be searching less. Subconsciously, searching ends up feeling futile. The less tech savvy tend to just let one of their algorithms "find" things on its own terms (TikTok, YouTube for short entertainment, Spotify for music , Netflix for shows, Instagram for shopping)

      TLDR a true competitor is not needed to see a lack of search volume. To some degree Google search is entertainment and (was once) useful for discovery. Now it can be substituted with other ways of discovering things.

Karawebnetwork 7 days ago

"For example, a search for [“don’t doesn’t”] tells our systems to find content that contains all these letters in this order: don t doesn t"

Well, that explains why some technical things are hard to find.

For example "... in javascript" gives unclear results but "ellipsis in javascript" or "three dots in javascript" will provide what you are looking for.

qikInNdOutReply 7 days ago

If search foo could really influence results, somebody would create onionlayer over google search to wrap it in search foo and deliver better results without adds.

The degradation is part of the buisness model and can not be allowed to be circumvented.

edumucelli 7 days ago

For what I understood the search results are the same, just the display of the results that is changing by highlighting the quoted terms.

I thought "improving search results" meaning that results itself were more relevant, not only the display.

userbinator 7 days ago

I think for many of us, the ultimate Google should just be some form of "grep for the Web". Defaulting to case-insensitive would be the only "massaging" of the query that I'd consider a good idea.

  • robbrown451 7 days ago

    You don't even want it to spell correct? That's pretty extreme.

    My 8 year old thinks I'm old fashioned because I don't just talk to the google lady casually like she is my friend, when doing a search/asking a question.

    • cesarb 7 days ago

      I think for many of us, "correcting" the spelling is one of the biggest annoyances of Google search, and the main reason which forces us to resort to using quotes so often. When I search for a word, I want to search for that word, not some other completely unrelated word which happens to have a similar meaning to one of the dictionary definitions of a word a few characters different from the one I typed.

      • robbrown451 7 days ago

        Usually that is one click to correct, which works for me.

        I often search for things I don't know how to spell, typically a proper noun, and often specifically because I am trying to figure out how to spell it and that is the quickest way.

robot 7 days ago

Dear Yonghao, no matter what you improve, when I see 6 ads before any actual search results everything turns to shit.

Hard_Space 7 days ago

Fine. It would also be great if I could search for filetype:pdf without getting gamed results where academic publishers either create a folder hierarchy that simulates a PDF result (but you actually have to pay), or else only shows GoogleBot the actual PDF (and the rest of us have to pay).

Would additionally be great if Google's autocomplete on filetype:pdf didn't default to "filetype pdf" (i.e. adds a space and omits the colon, nullifying the token).

belter 7 days ago

Quality of search still has some improvements open. Searching right now with quotes for the title of this HN post:

"We're improving search results when you use quotes"

The first three results are interesting:

1- First result is the Google announcement but not this post. The title is "How we're improving search results when you use quotes" not "We're improving search results when you use quotes" and the search was with quotes, but to be accepted, maybe...

2- Second result is this post

3- Third result is a quackery page made by some SEO spammers. Now what is interesting is that is almost a copy-paste of Google with changes like this:

Google announcement text:

"...We’ve heard feedback that people doing quoted searches value seeing where the quoted material occurs on a page, rather than an overall description of the page. Our improvement is designed to help address this...."

SEO Spammers write on page ( with enhancement misspelled):

"...We’ve heard suggestions that folks doing quoted searches worth seeing the place the quoted materials happens on a web page, somewhat than an total description of the web page. Our enchancment is designed to assist handle this..."

And the page becomes the third link from Google results...

  • knodi123 7 days ago

    > folks doing quoted searches worth seeing the place

    Ah, I remember this trick from my college days, using a thesaurus to beat exact match tests so you could copy from wikipedia et al. Glad to see it's still alive and well, and totally not being abused to make the internet a less useful place.

puffybeignette 7 days ago

Why am I conditioned that anytime I see google post about something they’re doing for users, that it’s really something that benefits them behind the scenes.

Pxtl 7 days ago

If I can't ctrl-F and find the text I googled after I click through, using Google's browser, then either the browser is bad or the search engine is bad.

  • danuker 7 days ago

    Or the site is bad. Some sites show some content to Googlebot, and other content to mere mortals.

    • rawoke083600 7 days ago

      I feel Google should be able to solve/identify this ?

    • Pxtl 7 days ago

      That falls under "search engine is bad"

lehi 7 days ago

DuckDuckGo's absurd handling of quotes finally forced me back to Google. Adding quotes in DDG gives nonsense results: https://imgur.com/a/2SHpjPG

  • wizofaus 7 days ago

    It seems DDG handles quotes somewhat similarly to how Bing does (I just tried "input: dispatch" and got the same list of useless results from both. Google's are no better though.) But Bing is much better for "life sucks and so do you". Strikes me that DDG just isn't "there" yet, which is the impression I've had almost every time I've used it.

    • Hallucinaut 7 days ago

      Haven't done the search myself but... Novacaine for the soul?

  • marricks 7 days ago

    All my search results have that exact phrase in it, just some with non alpha characters in that phrase.

    I have no clue what your DDG is doing but it’s not behaving right.

  • johnklos 7 days ago

    Same about DDG, but since I'll never go (directly) back to Google, I set up my own SearXNG instance. So much better!

  • emptyparadise 7 days ago

    I love DDG but it's so overzealous with rewriting queries to include more (usually irrelevant) results.

jll29 7 days ago

"The snippets we display for search results (meaning the text you see describing web content) will be formed around where a quoted word or phrase occurs in a web document."

Keyword-in-context (KWIC) is useful and well-tested, with a history going back to early scriptural concordances. The context tells the searcher that the right sense of the phrase is talked about in case the quoted phrase is ambiguous.

Snippet extraction has a long history, the standard paper is Turpin et al. (2007), there are regularly new improvements: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=de&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=snip...

pipeline_peak 7 days ago

They’re being lazy and irresponsible. Non tech savvy people don’t use delimiting quotation marks, nor should they. They are a technical feature for narrow searches.

Google Search has always been the dominant bridge between users and sites. Given the obvious complaints over search results, for a company of this stature to talk about explicit search performance during these times is pretty tone deaf.

To me it’s a clear indicator that Google Search is many years away from being their flagship product. It’s truly unfortunate to know there are thousands of people who’d like to change that by working together but simply can’t because Google put their flag up first. And it’s all because this once curious academic project has devolved into a surveil marketing machine.

Fuck Silicon Valley and brogrammer culture

  • dannysullivan 4 days ago

    The post specifically did NOT tell people to make use of quotes when searching. It said the opposite, and simply explained the change with snippets is to better help those who decide they do want to use quote searching for whatever reason. Here's what we said (I work for Google):

    Using quotes can definitely be a great tool for power users. We generally recommend first doing any search in natural language without resorting to operators like quotation marks. Years ago, many people used operators because search engines sometimes needed additional guidance. Things have advanced since then, so operators are often no longer necessary.

    By default, our systems are designed to look for both the exact words and phrases entered and related terms and concepts, which is often useful. If you use a quoted search, you might miss helpful content that uses closely related words.

    Of course, there are those times when the exact word being on a page makes all the difference. For those situations, quoted searches remain available and are now even better.

adam2k 4 days ago

I started using Neeva several months ago and, although this is totally anecdotal, I find the results much more accurate than what I get through Google even when using the quotes in my searches. I'll occasionally test out the same search on both engines and see the differences.

AraceliHarker 7 days ago

It would be more beneficial to many people to restore "The Blocked Sites Feature."

dcow 7 days ago

It’s interesting that they recommend opening dev tools to ”find” in the whole rendered text page once you land on it. Seems out of touch. Why not improve browser find to include looking in those helpful but not visible places too?

brynjolf 7 days ago

Just bring back the default to be to search for what I typed. I know what I want

Some colleagues at work have switched off Google since C# regularly gets ignored as a parameter. It didn't use to.

Just annoying having to argue with a tool every day.

benreesman 7 days ago

Quoted searches getting better is good. I mostly use them for math and programming related searches.

If some bright spark is sitting around with talent to spare but no idea, the perennial failure mode “search engine for hackers” is an idea whose time has come.

Google is sufficiently beholden to search revenue that grew too much faster than use to be a death sentence for vertical search startups anymore. And modern OSS/cloud compute make the once technically impossible merely absurdly difficult.

And “search for hackers” -> “search for technical stuff of all kinds” -> “search for serious people” -> “…” sounds kind of familiar.

throw7 7 days ago

None of this information will be true or working in the short future. They'll "fail fast", "break things", say they've read your mind and give you what you really wanted.

michannne 7 days ago

One thing that immediately stood out to me is the mention of Developer Tools. Most laypersons don't even know it exists. I'm wondering if it's possible for Google to make the presentation of things like meta tags and descriptions more user-friendly? Like, a small banner or icon when your mouse is at the top of a page or even an icon in the address bar, when you click it, it shows you things like the meta and description

wizofaus 7 days ago

Funnily enough I just searched for "input: dispatch" and couldn't see a single match that included the key colon character so I really hope they fix that.

  • carrotcarrot 7 days ago

    Google has replaced punctuation white white spaces for at least a decade.

    • wizofaus 7 days ago

      Do # and ++ count as punctuation? But yes, that's my point, they should at least favour results that match on non-alphanumeric characters if used with double quotes (ideally I should even be able to search for double quote characters!).

wraptile 7 days ago

This has been my huge pet peeve from a content creator's point of view. I'm in charge of the blog at my company, and it has been frustrating to see spam articles perform better than articles I'd spend days working on just because of keyword mash (and backlinks, but that's a different topic).

Hopefully, showing quoted snippets encourages "fuller", real content rather than the current keyword mash that rises to the top.

whoisthemachine 7 days ago

Weird little nit about the blog, the progress bar disappears when I scroll up and reappears when I scroll down (using FF).

On a more related note, I haven't used G search in at least 5 years except on mobile, so this is kind of shrug announcement to me, but good on them for restoring functionality that they clearly didn't want to support.

s1k3s 7 days ago

> Punctuation is sometimes seen as spaces.

This is so annoying for me. Is there a way to get around it, like marking a character to disable this behavior?

josefresco 7 days ago

Great, now fix "Phrase Match" on Google Ads. Google is constantly pushing Broad Match, to the point where they loosen the definition of phrase match to include synonyms. If I want Broad Match, I'll use it but please let me use Phrase Match as it's intended. Match the phrase exactly, if not don't show my ads.

nyx_land 7 days ago

so Google is starting to get scared because they've noticed people noticing their main product has become trash.

kgc 7 days ago

So basically like how it used to work before.

  • fswd 7 days ago

    Yeah this was the standard in 2003-2005 if I recall. Then they removed it. Took them almost 20 years to reinvent it...

slim 7 days ago

I think I finally nailed what's wrong with Google. It's the Tiktokisation of every ad business model. The end game for google is, whatever search keywords you input, they will answer with results based on what their algorithms think will entertain you and keep you engaged

justanorherhack 7 days ago

As said in other comments this is great but I wish they would get lower some of the search stealers like Pinterest, redbubble, yelp, and LinkedIn. There also a lot of top x sites that are practically generated and thinks like user benchmark that are complete garbage.

O__________O 7 days ago

First, I sincerely appreciate Google’s efforts to acknowledge there are issues and fix them; it’s amazing, thank you!


TLDR: It’s impossible to report issues when Google makes it impossible to replicate the issues. In the below text, found four errors: (1) feature mentioned in Google’s blog post is not working; (2) quoted search is not working; (3) + search operator does not work as it used to work; (4) it is impossible to replicate results. — Aware of likely hundreds of bugs like this, wish Google would listen.


This comment was a response to another comment, but given all the bugs I found, decided to make it a top level comment.


It does not, at least in one way, which was as a substitute for quotes when injected into a string where +’s replaced spaces; just confirmed this does not work, indifferent about it returning; see links below for proof.

My core concern is Google list ALL search operators OR operations AND publicly make SERP experiments per each that are reproducible without millions in resources AND whitelist for automated execution of these tests; if in unlikely chance Google’s looking for strong opinions how to radically improve search quality, I am willing to do it for free or paid.

Here’s the example searches that show + does not work in at least one way it once did as mentioned above:

- millions of results


- 3 results


* This is not the same as the +keyword syntax mentioned in thread; I will try to find an example.

EDIT: weird...

If I click this link:


I get zero result results, but if I click:


Then edit the a to z without making any other changes, like this:


I get 3 search results... which clearly is a bug.

EDIT: Grr... I was able to reproduce it, but then Google broke it. Using method above, here’s proof it returned 3 results:


- Note: if you look at the screen shot above, you will see a SERP that breaks the feature Google announced that in the blog post; specifically that the query is not highlighted in the SERP description. More importantly, I searched for "test test test test test z" but got results for "text text text text text z" — which means quoted search itself is broken.

And proof I then got a bug (zero results) using the exact same search:



* Conclusion: To me, if you cannot share a search result and get the EXACT same search results (and possibly ability to see different ones AND annotations of why they are different) — how this not a bug; how can anyone independently test Google’s search quality?

  • rnnr 7 days ago

    If you want the old stricter Google behavior be sure to check the "Verbatim" option under 'tools', or add "&tbs=li:1" to your uri. Around 2008 Google started testing a new search engine logic, codenamed caffeine?, which eventually became the default. Without being sure, I think verbatim uses the old engine which wasn't trying to be smarter than you and your query, certainly is stricter and reminds the old Google a lot.

    • O__________O 7 days ago

      True. Aware of verbatim, though oddly forget and assume “quoted” text is verbatim. Personally I would perfect Google provide option to have verbatim on by default and enable non-verbatim per keyword; obviously average user would not like that.

      EDIT: Tested if verbatim flag fixed the issue above, it did not; Google still randomly returns or does not return results, returns description with the query shown in description (or does not), etc

      Proof verbatim does not help:


      Oddly, if you get no results, and add [stack exchange] to query, which in theory should be from same index since it a more narrow subset of the prior, does return results, which is odd:



kazinator 7 days ago

Regarding "improving" --- just look at how you had it working in 1999, and crib from that.

sidcool 7 days ago

I always wonder how the search architecture is. Must be one of the most complex ones out there. It's a challenge in everything: Data Engineering, ML/AI, Search (duh), Algorithms, Scaling, Availability, Performance etc. etc.

orwin 7 days ago

I feel like Google search quality declined those past few years. But bing and those using bing results declined so much faster that I have to accept it...

I actually started to use RSS again this year. For the first time in a decade.

smrtinsert 6 days ago

I really wish google gave you access to which search algorithm it used when you queried. I refuse to believe a general purpose algo is appropriate for all domains.

gverrilla 7 days ago

Google is like an abusive partner: it may be gifting you something nice, but in the end we all know he's doing it only to soften you and hurt you later. It started like a beautiful love story about knowledge and freedom, but now Google arrives drunk and hits us with a keyboard every night.

  • hericium 7 days ago

    > Google is like an abusive partner: it may be gifting you something nice, but in the end we all know he's doing it only to soften you and hurt you later.

    Wasn't this something nice just a normal, granted thing at the start of this relationship?

    I'm not using their services for few years now but I remember the search engine working well with quotes in the past - before they started bubbling people in personalized results.

    • autoexec 7 days ago

      Google seems to periodically disregard pretty much everything they said they supported in terms of search options. Whenever I try something else to actually get the results I want (or remove the ones I don't) they throw up a captcha and treat me like I'm some criminal hacker warning me that my IP address has been logged.

      Sadly, even duckduckgo can't seem to figure out what the '-' operator means anymore.

      Here I was hoping that by now we'd have a decent search engine with full regex support, but instead I'm longing for features we already had 20 years ago.

      • shreyshnaccount 7 days ago

        full regex support sounds incredible, but is probably pretty damn hard to do now with the scale to which the internet has grown.

        • autoexec 7 days ago

          You're probably right, but our servers have greater capacity and capabilities than ever and in a lot of ways, the web is a whole lot smaller than it used to be. Most people have a handful of sites they regularly visit and they only occasionally stray outside the confines of social media. Reddit alone caused the death of countless forums and online communities. Most of the search results we see today are just useless spam. Once you strip out the ads, the massive amounts of JS and the CSS the text you're left with should be easily compressible and quick to parse. The actual content people care about is more centralized and standardized than it's ever been. That has to count for something.

      • psydvl 7 days ago

        What you mean by minus operator? If one that exclude word from search results, you're wrong https://imgur.com/a/mOYUGsG

        • hericium 7 days ago

          Yup. Those work as intended with DDG:

              hacker news -site:ycombinator.com
              office -microsoft
              picard -"star trek"
              japanese fish and rice -sushi
          • autoexec 7 days ago

            heh, not only was: 'office -microsoft' filled with microsoft links but when i tried 'office -microsoft -site:microsoft.com' all I got was a blank page!

            I'll give them some credit though, using duckduckgo.com I only got a page full of Microsoft that shouldn't have been there. It looks like it's https://html.duckduckgo.com/html/ that has the blank page problem

            • duckmysick 7 days ago

              Are you talking about duckduckgo? I tried `office -microsoft` just now and got the expected results: tv series, tv series podcast, government sites, bunch of businesses named Office. Nothing about Microsoft Office.

              • Thorrez 7 days ago
                • duckmysick 7 days ago

                  Interesting. I clicked your second link and I still got the results respecting the negative operator I mentioned in my post above.

                  Edit: To confirm, `office` alone returns a page full of Microsoft results.

                  If anyone from DuckDuckGo is lurking by any chance, I'd love to hear what makes it different.

                • anonymoushn 7 days ago

                  I have these same results. Maybe there's an active A/B test where one bucket has a working search engine.

              • autoexec 7 days ago

                Yeah. For a site that claims to help people escape the filter bubble this seems like evidence that they don't. Maybe it's your location, or your typical searches that are giving you better results, but duckduckgo fails that test for me every time.

        • Lio 7 days ago

          I'm sorry but that behaviour is very, very flaky in Duckduckgo and breaks for me regularly.

          Filtering retailers out of search results in Duckduckgo can be very difficult because of it.

          An trivial example that springs to mind recently was trying to search for information on the manufacturer of Hycosan Extra eye drops.

          The results are swamped by ecommerce sites with no actual information on them. Adding terms like "-pharmacist" or "-retailer" actually boosts sites with pharmacist in their URL to the top of the results.

          I sometimes have the same issue searching for programming topics where the results are swamped by Microsoft related tech. That would be fine if that's what I was searching for but when it's not it's a real pain in the arse. Using "-microsoft" or some other exclusion just boosts the incorrect results from Microsoft's own site even further.

          Sometimes Duckduckgo fix this behaviour but it seems to break randomly for me.

      • bhrgunatha 7 days ago

        I've also found DDG ignore quotes often too.

  • SllX 7 days ago

    For real. My first thought on seeing the headline was to click through and find out how they were ruining it. Probably most of my queries have quotes in them, just to try and enforce some sanity on the results I get.

    Instead this appears to be restoring functionality that was lost. I swear Google used to actually do what this blog post says Google will now do, and I’m not sure when it disappeared, just that I stopped looking at the text blurbs since what they show usually isn’t what I got. Maybe that will change now with this backpedaled change?

    At least they’re not ruining it.

  • disantlor 7 days ago

    i get your point but this is really pretty dramatic.

    it’s a website. not everything needs to be found, let alone searched for

    • gverrilla 7 days ago

      "Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. […]. For this type of reason and historical experience with other media, we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers."

      The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page

      • ShamelessC 7 days ago

        Great quote (given the context) - gonna go give this a read now, thanks.

    • Gigachad 7 days ago

      Almost everything posted on this site is blown way out of proportion. Google is a tool you can use if you want. The vast majority of people think it works great. But from the comments that get posted here you'd think the government is sending police forces to bust down your door if you don't endure an hour of google waterboarding.

      • BuyMyBitcoins 7 days ago

        My increasing dissatisfaction with Google’s core product, what made it a company in the first place, it’s prime product, it’s raison d’être, Internet search, is because it now seems to fixate on the most generic terms in my query and returns answers for a question it assumes I have - rather than just being a powerful keyword search like it was two decades ago.

        You can still use something while lamenting that the product is not as good as it used to be.

      • frostwarrior 7 days ago

        Early google represented "the good guys" against the bully Microsoft.

        Back then, they created Google Talk which rivaled MSN. Android started as a "open source mobile Linux" which rivaled Windows Phone.

        People trusted Google as the good guys open source powered company and, when it got big enough, it screwed everyone over.

        And that disappointment and outrage is still there

        • dymk 7 days ago

          You may feel screwed over, meanwhile a billion people happily chug away on Google, GMail, and YouTube.

          • trasz 7 days ago

            Inferior products can still be popular, how surprising.

            Seriously though, the only actually valuable thing Google has at this point is its market share.

            • dymk 7 days ago

              Given it's an inferior product, weird how nobody's come and made something better and eaten Google's lunch, isn't it?

              • trasz 7 days ago

                Network effect; can’t really compete until the current monopoly is solved. Also it’s disputable whether a business model based on invading peoples privacy should be legal.

                • dymk 6 days ago

                  What does Google have a monopoly over?

                  (Hint: nothing)

                  • trasz 6 days ago

                    Every market it's still in, from search to mail. Google can't compete on markets it doesn't already have monopoly; see... well, see the vast majority of its products.

        • tourist2d 7 days ago

          > when it got big enough, it screwed everyone over

          How did it screw everyone over? Almost all my non tech friends adore most Google products.

        • herbst 7 days ago

          Ok they broke Google Talk however they actually made Linux mainstream, something no one else managed on this level before.

          • rawoke083600 7 days ago

            lol what ? I'd give Google a lot of credit for a lot of stuff, including all their Linux contribution to the kernel.

            But stating "Google made Linux mainstream" ? I can't see how ? I'd wager orgs like Ubuntu had a lot more todo with making "Linux mainstream".

            • herbst 6 days ago

              Linux is now a majority of active devices on any website statistic.

              It's not unusual to have more Android users on any given day than windows, Mac and Linux together.

              How is that not mainstream?

    • eyelidlessness 7 days ago

      But I can’t search for things I know exist and very much want to find. I could previously do this with the same search syntax, really hoping this announcement means I can again.

      And if that seems dramatic, in the intervening period do you want to know what Google served me for very specific search terms? Malicious content and very little else.

      • disantlor 7 days ago

        that sounds frustrating but it’s not the same as being with an abusive partner

        • eyelidlessness 7 days ago

          I’m sensitive to the distinction you’re making, I have had abusive partners. One of whom is a routine and often daily reminder of things I’d like to leave behind but haven’t yet been able to. I didn’t take the figurative way the other comment was phrased to mean literally that. Because you’re right, it’s not the same.

        • catach 7 days ago

          Consider that the analogy is intended to illustrate the mechanisms at play, and not the import.

          • dymk 7 days ago

            A bad analogy is a bad analogy. If you want to illustrate the mechanism at play, come up with an analogy that fits the situation.

            • catach 7 days ago

              I'd agree that it's an overall failed analogy because people here are being distracted by the intensity signal, but I still see it as a good analogy for the purposes of illustrating the mechanism.

  • threatripper 7 days ago

    If you don't like him then go to your other friends! What, you lost contact long ago? Do they even exist anymore? Too bad. Sounds like we're stuck together for a long long time.

  • dymk 7 days ago

    You've clearly never been in an abusive relationship. At best it's a bad faux-dramatic attempt at humor that trivializes what abuse actually means.

pmarreck 7 days ago

Did Google remove the ability to do boolean searches? When I recently tried to do something like (word_a OR word_b), it tried to match on "(word_a" which was wrong

  • dannysullivan 4 days ago

    In a Boolean like that, the command would be to match either of the words, A or B. But sometimes our ranking systems might find that A seems more relevant, so it could get weighted more. That's still a Boolean match, though. And you don't need to do that. By default, we'll search for any of the words (OR) that are entered.

    • pmarreck 3 days ago

      I thought the default search was AND? And that it only starts returning results that don't include a word if that word is rated low in relevance (possibly due to misspelling) and the number of results from the original search are low? (Which is literally what it says it's doing when you do such a search?)

      • dannysullivan 2 days ago

        Ages ago, AND was the default. That was true of many search engines, too. I can't pin down when exactly we shifted to OR as the default, but it's been that way for years, probably over a decade easily.

turdnagel 7 days ago

I miss when you could jump to the cached version of a page which would have all your search terms highlighted in different colors on the page. Peak Google search.

droptablemain 7 days ago

This functionality has been totally degraded over the past few years to the point where it's hardly useful. Hopefully this is the tide turning.

boring_twenties 6 days ago

Quotes used to work fine until they broke it. Hopefully this "improvement" is as easy as git revert.

throwaway743 7 days ago

Switched to Kagi recently and haven't looked back

bslorence 7 days ago

Am I the only one who finds that quote-searching sort of kind of sometimes works in Gmail, but usually doesn't?

dqpb 7 days ago

Do Google Search Engineers use Google Search?

dvh 7 days ago

Wait does this mean there is a new player in town? Anybody knows who that is? Why else would Google improve search?

carrotcarrot 7 days ago

Why can't we have options anymore? Is it that difficult to have a toggle for what the description shows?

rob_c 7 days ago

either reverting a broken feature or listening to how search has become almost unsuable for technical work in the last few months in favour of ramming some nonsense "popular" article down your thoat.

thank you google overlords for your brief allotment of sanity

codefeenix 7 days ago

keep the ad placement the same, but make search work. Is it so hard to separate the two?

causality0 7 days ago

I can't believe I was so naive as to think this was going to be Google apologizing for how it screws up most search operators by only obeying them if Google agrees with you. Most of the time it happily includes all sorts of SEO horseshit like synonyms, related words, and even companies who happen to be competitors of what I wanted exact results for. Words in quotations aren't supposed to be suggestions.

  • dannysullivan 4 days ago

    Words in quotes aren't suggestions. They tell us (I work for Google Search) to find only what's in the quotes. That's how they've worked for years. We haven't been "only obeying them" if we agree. I'm not even sure what that's supposed to mean. We obey them as outlined in that post. The problem is that people sometimes can't find the quoted material on the page -- that we definitely did see and definitely did restrict to -- so we made it clearer in snippets to help them understand what we saw, where we saw it and hopefully guide them to the right locations in the doc.

  • mcswell 7 days ago

    Just to be persnickety: If you do a search for "dog" (with the quotes), do you expect to find hits with only "dogs"? What about "doghouse" or "Dogbert"? "Dogged" (the past tense or past/passive participle of the verb 'dog')? If you search for "goose", do you expect to also see "geese"? (And for good measure, what should be done about languages where most nouns have case marking suffixes, like Russian, or languages with lots and lots of suffixes, like Turkish or Finnish.)

    I'll agree about synonyms, if you use quotes you shouldn't see those.

    • causality0 7 days ago

      No, I don't expect to see those things, because those things aren't what I searched for. My problem is that i get results for those things anyway. It's especially infuriating when, to use your example, I'm looking for something that happens to be called "dog" but has nothing to do with canines and Google won't stop giving me puppies.

      • mcswell 7 days ago

        That's the synonyms thing; I was asking about inflected forms (dogs, dogging, dogged) and compounds containing the word (doghouse).

    • Daneel_ 7 days ago

      Honestly? I expect "dog" and nothing else. Not dogs. Not dogged. Just dog.

      • rawoke083600 7 days ago

        Agreed !

        "dog" --> exact match

        +dog --> stemming allowed: i.e "doghouse, doggies, dogs"

        That would be nice to have

        • dannysullivan 4 days ago

          That's how it works. That's how it has worked for years, except you don't need the + symbol -- that tells us nothing.

          ["dog"] or anything in quotes means exact match, and that's what we do.

          [dog] or anything without an operator means we'll generally try to exact match but also might do stemming or synonym or other matching, if it seems helpful.

        • mcswell 7 days ago

          Agreed, it could work that way (but doesn't). As a computational linguist who has worked a lot in morphology, I support this :).

fareesh 7 days ago

This explains why Google search has been so bad recently

retrocryptid 7 days ago

That will be a cool feature when they implement it.

sizzle 7 days ago

Please solve the Pinterest spam results

Yizahi 7 days ago

Google search? What's that? :)

copperx 7 days ago

Google is the Clippy of this day and age.

Why can't we have a Google Advanced Search? Is it that hard? Is it rocket surgery? Is it forbidden by the powers that be? Would it start WW3?

I've always found it baffling that we have to play guessing games with a capricious search engine that tries to interpret what we want. There are some times when we know exactly what we're looking for!

  • flenserboy 7 days ago

    Those users probably don't give their clicks to ads, obvious or otherwise. Their focus on useful results means they cannot be easily monetized, and therefore need to be dissuaded from using G as much as possible.

  • jabits 7 days ago

    I’m pretty sure indexing and searching the entire internet satisfactorily to all is harder than rocketry or surgery…

  • Nition 7 days ago
    • cma 7 days ago

      Have to have an extension to make that show up on new tabs, so cant get right to it on mobile? Why did google kill the option to set a home page for new tabs? Obviously some kind of user hostile monetization reason I guess.

  • collegeburner 7 days ago

    google literally starts captcha blocking me if i do too many quote or intext searches. there is obviously a business case for fucking over power users. "you will look at the results The Algorithm surfaces and you will like it".

miked85 7 days ago

quote searches always seems to work fine, until recently

throwaway30dc7 7 days ago

Too little too late. I have used G for like maybe 5 of my last 1000ish searches.

There ARE between alternatives now. I like Kagi the most. Worth every penny.

  • disqard 7 days ago

    I too pay for, use, and swear by kagi now. It's great!

    • emptyparadise 7 days ago

      I think what scares me about Kagi is the privacy aspect. One thing to look up "hot steamy decompiler software in my area" in an incognito tab (even if it's not particularly that private) and another to do that logged in to a service linked to your credit card linked to you through all the KYC.

      • jlarocco 7 days ago

        Do you not pay for your own ISP or cell service?

        And for all practical purposes, switching to an incognito tab is pointless against Google. If there are 99 searches from IP using Firefox version 123.4 with Google cookies, and now 1 search from IP using Firefox version 123.4 without Google cookies is practially "good enough" to assume it's still the same person.

        Anyway, I'm also sold on Kagi, and DuckDuckGo before that. I didn't even know Google had broken quote searches, but I'm not too surprised.

        • emptyparadise 7 days ago

          But ISP dangers are at least mitigated by HTTPS/proxies/VPNs/public Wi-Fi/Tor. Does Kagi have any comparable protections? It would actually be extremely cool if it did.

      • richardsocher 7 days ago

        That's why at you.com we made private mode accessible without any login. And we don't even do analytics and do not store your query in private mode.

        (richard, ceo of you.com here)

BrianOnHN 7 days ago

TLDR Google re-discovers decades-old search feature, users seemingly never realized it disappeared.

prometheus76 7 days ago

I love where they said they've "heard feedback". Where? Where can you possibly give feedback to Google about their products? Is this just from their family members at holiday dinners?

  • scrollaway 7 days ago

    The PR people writing the article are rephrasing the words of the division lead who has aggregated the feedback from a bunch of project managers who are relaying what the data analysts in each team are interpreting from a host of metrics their engineers implemented.

    It’s an onion of nonsense. At no point is any user involved.

    Edit: or as another sibling comment aptly points out, they also might have just heard feedback… from annoyed employees.

    • bushbaba 7 days ago

      To be fair, many Googlers are on Hackernews. There's been a lot of posts on HN recently complaining about how quotes was broken. Would not surprise me if a few Googler used the chatter to pull reports and quantify the impact leading to this fix.

      • scrollaway 7 days ago

        I suspect you’re right. But knowing Google I have my doubts most Googlers have any real influence over this, unless they are in VERY specific positions in the company.

      • RulerOf 7 days ago

        >To be fair, many Googlers are on Hackernews.


        I'd pay money for regex search.

    • mcswell 7 days ago

      Maybe a decade ago, there were feedback pages. I recall when Google Maps changed its format. (I forget now what the change was, maybe scattering controls all over instead of having a sort of legend where all the controls sat.) There was a place where you could provide feedback, sort of like a Usenet page. Anyway, after the change there were thousands of posts, and after a few days tens of thousands of posts--every last one of them negative. (Well, there were one or two positives, but they were /s.) After a week someone from Google showed up and said they were listening. They eventually changed some very minor part of the format to look sort of more or less a little like it used to, while not budging on most of the changes they had made. At that point, people started posting alternative map sites.

    • dannysullivan 4 days ago

      I was involved in writing that post and, in particular, that sentence about feedback. I don't work for PR. I work for our search quality team, as a liaison between the team and the public to ... bring feedback we hear in a variety of places to help consider improvements. Hacker News was one of the places earlier this year where there was a lot of feedback about wanting to see how to make quote search work better. In responding to (see my profile) and exploring that feedback, it wasn't that quote searching was broken but that people couldn't readily understand we really did bring back documents with the quoted terms. So that's the feedback that went back to our team, and we looked at how to improve things which lead to the change we announced.

    • indymike 7 days ago

      Translation: The HIPPOs have spoken (Hippo = HIghest Paid Person's Opinion).

  • thaumasiotes 7 days ago

    > they said they've "heard feedback". Where? Where can you possibly give feedback to Google about their products?

    This exact discussion is pretty common on HN. Some people complain that quoted search no longer works, and generally someone from Google will show up to tell us that it does.

    It's very interesting to me that this change is specifically targeted at quieting the complaints rather than improving the search functionality. The results are the same as before, but they will now show you the match they found so you can't say "but the string I searched for isn't on the page!".

    That will certainly address one half of the complaint. But I have also seen it mentioned that quoted search may fail to find pages that do contain the quoted text. The example given was along these lines:

    Website: "peering through reverent fingers <br> I watch them flourish and fall"

    Query: "peering through reverent fingers I watch"

    Result: "no results found for 'peering through reverent fingers I watch'"

    Unfortunately, highlighting where the quoted string occurs on the result page will do nothing to solve complaints that google fails to find pages that contain the quoted string.

  • endisneigh 7 days ago

    You would be surprised how many people who work at Google who hate Google products and say so in the internal groups. People have been complaining about this for years internally.

  • ancoron 7 days ago

    All Google products I have ever used provide the option to give feedback (including screenshots).

    • judge2020 7 days ago

      To add, I've had Google Docs, YouTube, Store (store.google.com), and Google Search all proactively ask me to rate the experience via a short survey element in the bottom right of the page.

  • nextos 7 days ago

    You can do this in google.com > Settings (bottom right) > Send comments. My translation might not match exactly what you see in Google US.

    I sent a comment about 3 months ago about a bug in night mode and it got fixed. No idea if my comment was the cause, though.

  • hnburnsy 7 days ago

    Yeah ironic considering this blog post (or any post at blog.google AFAICT) doesn't allow for comments. It is more like pressrelease.google or marketing.google than blog.google.

  • taspeotis 7 days ago

    At the bottom of the search results:

        Australia | Brisbane, Queensland - From your IP address - Update location
        Help Send feedback Privacy Terms
    If you click "Send feedback" you can ... send feedback.
boredemployee 7 days ago

Lately I've been using books when I need information, instead of google, much better and less privacy issues. I recommend it!

  • mcswell 7 days ago

    I recommend clay tablets. Fire them, and they'll last pretty much forever, or at least a few thousand years.

    • brodo 7 days ago

      Parchment also lasts quite long and is easier to store. If you have a lot of goats, it might be the better option!

  • klysm 7 days ago

    That’s a very expensive alternative compared to a VPN

    • trasz 7 days ago

      It’s actually free, unless you live in some weird country that doesn’t have libraries.

      • klysm 7 days ago

        Most of the stuff I’m interested in isn’t going to appear in print in libraries unfortunately

        • trasz 7 days ago

          Even university libraries? What kind of books do you have in mind?

          • mcswell 7 days ago

            Conference proceedings. When I was at a computational linguistics conference back in ~2004, I was appalled when another attendee checking out from the hotel left his printed conference proceedings there, saying the electronic form (CD then, web pages now) was good enough and a lot easier to carry around. I thought about that as I carried the printed proceedings (large conference, so large proceedings) back on the flight home.

            He was right, I was wrong. And I haven't seen printed conference proceedings for some years now.

treeman79 7 days ago

Will google stop suppressing political positions they don’t like?

  • jabits 7 days ago

    What are Google’s political positions?

    • kristopolous 7 days ago

      There's antisemitic conspiracy theories and hate filled documents they simply won't give you. Such as white replacement videos calling for vigilante killing sprees.

      Many of the qanon "baker" sites aren't indexed on Google. You can type in the domain, try to feed Google as much leading information as possible and it'll simply not tell you the site exists.

      They'll give you articles about them but if you want to see the content you'll have to find it another way.

      I've explored multiple of these. There's no robots.txt asking you to go away. The pages are readily scrapable. It's clearly a proactive decision.

      Also dangerous medical quackery (such as ingesting heavy metals, infecting yourself with deadly diseases as medicine and bleach enemas) that's led to numerous deaths they simply will not provide to you.

      I'm guessing the lawyers told them to de-index these sites. Some see this as "censorship by the liberal woke left".

      You can go to a Yandex or Bing index to get these things if you're curious although Bing is starting to follow suit as well because I'm guessing their lawyers are equally insistent.

      Listen to the Qanon-anonymous podcast back catalog (investigators of the far right) and you'll run into this constantly - they'll have entire episodes dedicated to some document or video Google claims doesn't exist. But then you open up, say, baidu and get 10,000 results