A report from Google says that the "+" feature will no longer indicate that searchers are looking for specific results.

Google users looking for information about an exact phrase used to be able to put a “+” character between words in their queries to tell the engine they wanted only results containing a specific term. However, the company recently announced that it will no longer recognize the character for this, opting instead for increased functionality of quotation marks in search. Marketers will likely want to maintain their SEO keyword strategies, as Google says the quotes will ultimately have the same impact on search results.

Perhaps removing the character’s functionality makes sense with the increased focus on Google+ the company has pushed since launching it in June. Marketers might be on the lookout for other uses of the + character in search related to the search giant’s social network.

Google said that the increased functionality of the quotation mark will be fine-tuned over time.

Some are frustrated with the change, with one popular comment from a searchers asking, “How does requiring us to type two characters instead of one in order to ensure that a key word appears in the search results simplify the search experience?” Nonetheless, Google believes using the quotation will be best in terms of improving search.

“We’re constantly making changes to Google Search – adding new features, tweaking the look and feel, running experiments – all to get you the information you need as quickly and as easily as possible,” a Google employee spokesperson wrote on the related Google web search forum. “This recent change is another step toward simplifying the search experience to get you to the info you want.”

Google’s search has changed the way people interact with information, and the growth of search activity and SEO have altered marketing. Brafton recently reported that Google’s principal engineer Matt Cutts said that leveraging SEO is good for businesses, and he suggested that using it effectively will make websites more relevant and accessible to business prospects.  

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.