Don’t Want Google to “Correct” Your Searches? You Can Now Search Verbatim


Until earlier this year, you could do a Google search and use the ‘+’ operator in front of any word to make sure that Google would search for this specific term. Now that Google is moving towards using ‘+’ as a way to find Google+ profiles, though, this option is gone. Instead, Google asked users to use double quotes to ensure that none of Google’s usual corrections, personalizations or other changes are applied to this term. Now, however, after some vocal opposition against the disappearance of the ‘+’ search operator, Google is introducing a new tool that brings some of this functionality back: verbatim search.

verbatim_search_find_itThis new tool will be rolling out to all Google users over the next few days. Once it’s available for you, it will hide in the side bar, though, where you will have to click on “more search tools” and then look for it at the bottom of the list.

While few users are likely to really need this tool, it’s nice to have it as an option, though just adding quotation marks around a term seems to be a bit easier than clicking through to the “more search tools” option.

Algorithm Changes Coming, Too

Google also acknowledged that it plans to make some changes to when its “query broadening search improvements” triggers, which seems to be an admission that its current algorithms sometimes go overboard in trying to correct or broaden search queries.

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Google+ Finally Launches Brand Pages – Now Open For All (Updated)


Ever since the launch of Google+, businesses have been wondering when they could finally open up their own outposts on Google+. After a long delay, Google finally pulled back the curtains from its product for brands today. These new so-called Google+ Pages look pretty much exactly like regular Google+ profiles, but with a ‘page’ icon next to the page’s name, a +1 button and the ability to share a page with your friends. While Google isn’t ready to just let any brand onto the service yet, it is launching a number of pages with well-known brands like H&M, Toyota and Pepsi.

While you can’t create a brand page yourself yet, Google notes that it wants local businesses, brands, products, companies, arts and entertainment organizations and sports teams to set up their own pages on the service.

Update (1:15pm PT): Google just announced that the rollout is now complete and that anybody who wants to can now sign up for a Google+ Page. 

What Took Them So Long?

The Google+ Pages themselves aren’t really that exciting. Indeed, looking at them now really makes you wonder why it took Google so long to release this feature. The Google+ team regularly noted that it wanted to get this feature right and hence wasn’t ready to release it yet. I gather designing a ‘page’ icon and putting a +1 on a page doesn’t quite account for the long delay.

The only major difference between regular profile pages and Google+ pages is that they feature a cumulative +1 count that adds up all the +1s on a given site.

Direct Connect: More Interesting than the Pages it Powers

More interesting than the pages themselves, then, is the second new feature Google announced today: Direct Connect from Google search. The idea here is that you can now search for [+], followed by a page and Google will immediately take you to that brand’s page. This doesn’t work when searching for regular people, but it does work for Angry Birds.

According to Google, a page’s eligibility for being included in the Direct Connect program “is determined algorithmically, based on certain signals we use to help understand your page’s relevancy and popularity.” Publishers should also ensure that their content is linked to their Google+ pages.

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6:29 pm

Google Announces Google+: Its Most Ambitious Social Networking Project Yet


It’s easy to feel a bit cynical when Google announces a new social networking project and my first thoughts when I heard about Google+ were probably similar to those of many others: “Haven’t we seen this (fail) before?” There more I look into Google+, though, the more I wonder if the company isn’t finally on the right track.

So what is Google+ anyway? It’s not just a basic Facebook clone but  a new Google-powered social network that focuses on sharing content with the right people. To do so, you can organize your friends into groups (or +Circles as Google calls it). By doing this, you can then choose who you want to share content with and keep this information as private and public as you would like it to be.

For the time being, Google is calling this project a “field test” and not a beta. It’s by invitation only. You can get on the invitation list here.

Circles and Sparks: The Friends and Content You Care About

While +Circles is definitely the core feature of the service, Google wisely went beyond this and added plenty of other features to the service. +Sparks, for example, lets you discover new content on the Web based on your interests and then share those stories and sites with your friends on Google+.

Video and Mobile

A few other tools that Google has also included in its new social network show how ambitious this project really is. The company, for example, included a group video chat feature called Hangouts, where you can chat with up to 10 of your friends.

On the Mobile side, Google is focusing on instant photo uploads, location sharing and a group texting service called +Huddle (the Android app is out now and an iPhone app is coming soon).

Google+ is clearly Google’s most ambitious project in the social space yet. I’m still waiting for my invitation to give it a try myself, though, and as with so many other previous Google projects (I’m looking at you, Buzz), the details of how exactly it works and how easy to use it is could make or brake Google+ as well.

We’ll have a lot more about Google+ in the next few days. Until then, take the interactive tour here to learn more about the service and also take a look at Wired’s in-depth story about the people and philosophy behind the project.

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