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Lucy Griffiths

Google Change Synonyms Display in Search Results

20th Jan 2010 Content Marketing, News, Industry News, SEO, Local Search 1 minute to read

Our in-house SEO Copywriter, Steve Logan, recently made an excellent post that explored the importance of spelling and grammar, with particular reference to writing for the web (see ‘The Typos and Language Errors that Turn Visitors Away).

Another consideration content writers and search engine optimisers need to have is for the use of synonyms in their writing. For some time now, Google have been showing synonyms bolded in the search results for stemming variants, such as the plural of a word, e.g. the searcher enters ‘picture’ but ‘pictures’ is also shown in bold.

Steven Baker, a Google Software Engineer, has just posted an article ‘Helping computers understand language‘ in which he explains how Google is constantly refining their algorithms in an effort to improve the quality of their search results. As part of this development, he announced that the search engine is now going to start putting in bold those synonyms where their algorithm is confident the meaning of a word is the same as the one searched for, e.g. searched for ‘pictures’ but ‘photos’ is bolded.

Clearly this can never be 100% successful and he even gives an example of a known error in their search results and some further examples of where this could be applied.

Although he doesn’t mention localisation, it will be interesting to see how this bolding of synonyms will (continue to) effect local search results. Just today, I carried out an experiment searching for UK results of the term ‘organise search engine optimisation’:

Google UK Localised Results

Google UK Localised Results

You’ll see that the second result has the US spelling of ‘organise’ and ‘optimisation’. To compound this, the site in question is very definitely an American company hosted in the US.

I’m sure Google will have ‘armies of Engineers’ looking in to refining local search results as well. Let’s just hope that our ‘special relationship’ hasn’t quite extended to swapping out the letter ‘s’ for ‘z’ just yet…

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