A bug in Google Search has been discovered that breaks search result links when using Safari in macOS if the link contains a plus symbol.
For example, if you search for a keyword and one of the search results contains a plus, like https://forums.developer.apple.com/search.jspa?q=crash+app+store&view=content, when you click on the link it will not do anything.
This was first discovered by a Twitter account belonging to the site wellness-heaven.de, who noticed on around September 28th a significant drop in their traffic from Safari users.
Safari Google „+“ sign bug in action pic.twitter.com/Km85DdyUzL— Wellness Heaven (@wellness7) October 1, 2018
When he reported this issue to John Mu, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, Mu responded that it was indeed strange and that he would pass on the bug report.
That looks weird, I'll pass it on. Thanks!— John (@JohnMu) October 1, 2018
For those who may have seen a dip in traffic starting around September 28, you should check your analytics software to determine if this is coming from Safari users being unable to click on your links.
BleepingComputer has been able to confirm this bug using the search results for Apple found here on Safari in macOS Sierra.
We have also contacted Google for comment regarding this bug, but had not heard back at the time of this publication.
Update 10/1/18 11:31PM EST: This bug is also affecting Firefox 61.0.1 in macOS, but appears to be working fine with Chrome 69.
Also broken on Firefox 61.0.1 / Mojave 10.14 (18A391). Works on Google Chrome 69.0.3497.100 though on the same system o_O— Sergiu Gatlan (@serghei) October 1, 2018
Update: 10/3/18: After discovering the bug, Dr. Tassilo Keilmann, the CEO of www.wellness-heaven.de, discovered that it was also affecting other browsers.
"I have now reproduced the bug in Firefox (win / mac), Safari (mac) and IE (win)," Keilmann told BleepingComputer via email. "However, Chrome and Safari iOS are fine."
Today Keilmann posted to his company's Twitter account that the bug has been fixed by Google.
@JohnMu @dannysullivan @glenngabe thank you for fixing the "+" bug so quickly! :) I am evaluating now also other domains impacted by the update, to statistically determine (via Analytics data) whether "+" URLs suffered more than others. note that the js bug persists in safari. pic.twitter.com/XaC896mCRT— Wellness Heaven (@wellness7) October 3, 2018