Google used to "+" each term by default, but lately I keep stumbling on pages that are omitting one of my search terms. Perhaps they've recently tweaked the engine for relevance?

I know the content can change between their indexing and my viewing, but I've suddenly run into this problem a lot recently. If I go back and "+" each term, it knows I'm serious about it and rejects the errant result for the next search.

Is there a default setting to change it back to absolutely require each search term?

I don't want to add extra characters to my search query, just tick a box or something to make it work like it used to.

  • For example: cisco air ap 1131ag repeater. One of the results were missing the 3rd and 5th word.
    – hyperslug
    Aug 13, 2009 at 0:42

3 Answers 3


the character "+" is not a trigger for requiring a term...if you want to require a term to be found then use quotations.

Example: cheese danish "block"

That query tells Google to only return results that has "block" in them...but it could return results for "cheese block" or "danish block" but not necessarily results with all three.

Quotations are how you can heavily specify what you are looking for but applies to more than just keywords.

You can require multiple keywords in a search and you can even require phrases or sentences.

Example: news "what did you call me"

That will return results that are news related whether based on the keyword or the site they are on but requires whatever is returned to have the phrase "what did you call me" somewhere on the page.

I know this question is old but it is valid info to have.

  • This actually seems to work! Even though there's no word of it in Google search help. Oct 22, 2015 at 4:20
  • They actually do describe it on the search operators page, support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?rd=1 (by the way, these also work on DuckDuckGo also check on duckduckgo.com/bang ) Nov 8, 2015 at 0:26
  • 3
    As of now - January 2016 - using quotes around all words does not give me search results that really have all words. Worse: Not even setting the search results to "Verbatim" does that any more! I just tried "webstorm" "indent" "jsdoc" and I got search results without "jsdoc" or "indent" even in verbatim mode.
    – Mörre
    Jan 22, 2016 at 13:50
  • Yes, Google is getting worse and worse, taking away the control from the user. Syntax working for more than 10 years doesn't work anymore. There is no way to force Google to search for what YOU want; they will always think they know better and give you results according to their own parameters. And it sucks! I waste so much time (since few years) trying to enforce keywords, ending on a page expecting to find answers, using CTRL+F to find the word in the page and discover that the result is totally not pertinent to what I actually searched. DuckDuckGo sometimes works better; but not always. Dec 11, 2018 at 17:47

From Google search basics: More search help:

A particular word might not appear on a page in your results if there is sufficient other evidence that the page is relevant. The evidence might come from language analysis that Google has done or many other sources. For example, the query [ overhead view of the bellagio pool ] will give you nice overhead pictures from pages that do not include the word 'overhead.'

Another search example is "loopback snuffleupagus". The first link is a wikipedia article with absolutely nothing about snuffleupagus. Only "+loopback + +snuffleupagus" will bring up relevant links.

[status-bydesign], apparently.

  • Yeah, what I said. If you click "cached" on the first link it will tell you that your words only appear in the links pointing to it. Aug 31, 2009 at 8:28
  • @Jim, I agree. This post is just documenting Google's reasoning behind making this change (relevance) and that there is no solution to my question (default require).
    – hyperslug
    Aug 31, 2009 at 17:00

Sometimes if the term isn't in the page it may be in a page that is referencing that page. If you view the cached version it will report on that. That may be what is going on.

At a test to see that it is doing an AND (just maybe with words that are not there) vs. an OR (what was previously the standard) is to look at your result count as you add or remove words. It used to be that as you added words you got more results because it included pages that included any words. If you try this with Google you will see that the number of results changes inversely as you add and remove words.

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