Google Drops Another Search Operator: Tilde For Synonyms

google-tilde-operator-goneGoogle has quietly dropped another search operator, the tilde (i.e., ~) search operator.

Google Operating System blog noticed the lack of support for the tilde operator over the weekend. Reportedly, Dan Russell, a Search Research Scientist at Google, confirmed Google dropped the feature. Dan said the feature was dropped to “lack of use.”

Dan told Alex from Google Operating System:

Yes, it’s been deprecated. Why? Because too few people were using it to make it worth the time, money, and energy to maintain. In truth, although I sometimes disagree with the operator changes, I happen to agree with this one. Maintaining ALL of the synonyms takes real time and costs us real money. Supporting this operator also increases the complexity of the code base. By dropping support for it we can free up a bunch of resources that can be used for other, more globally powerful changes.

Google has recently dropped several search features in the past month including:

There are probably other minor search features Google has dropped that we have not yet spotted yet.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Google: User Interface | Google: Web Search | Search Features: Query Refinement

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • David Edwards

    More money for giant balloons, I guess.

  • abigail_rocket_blast

    Good take on this from Phil Bradley: http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2013/06/google-explanation-of-lost-synonymn-search.html.

    Bottom line: “Google is not a search engine company, it’s an advertising company.” In other words, don’t expect them to make life better for searchers, as then you might see fewer adverts and they might make less money.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Well, I guess it’s about time for another round of SEO blog rumors about how Google is using Latent Semantic Indexing. Let the Google Gurus start Gurating.

  • http://www.stanleyoppenheimer.com searchengineman

    !#$!#$ – I used to use the tilde ..alot..for keyword research, or exploring verticals I’m unfamiliar with… Another feature returns to the black box, that is Google.

  • http://foomandoonian.net/ Foomandoonian

    I always use Google to find synonyms, but I had no idea there was an operator! I occasionally try tried the syntax for definitions (define:word), but never with any luck.

    Feels like there’s a bit of a brain drain going on at Google.

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