Everyone these days claims to be an expert in SEO, but I bet there will be many of you who won’t even realise that Google has discontinued one of the most useful and powerful tools in your SEO toolbox.  Wondering what it is?

I’m talking about the tilde operator.

It used to be that when you prefixed a keyword with the tilde sign you’d get synonyms for that keyword, so you could effectively avoid keyword/phrase duplication.  For instance, did you know that Job Coaching and Job Training would bring up pretty much identical results?  How could this possibly be with two different key phrases?

Of course it’s obvious really, they’re pretty much the same thing, but the tilde was what allowed you to confirm this with a simple search.  And now it’s gone.  Gone forever!

Google developer Dan Russell recently confirmed the death of the tilde, stating:

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.”

So there we have it.  Wave it goodbye, have a service for it if you need to, but the sad truth is that most “SEO experts” out there won’t even notice that it’s gone.  They didn’t know it was there to begin with.