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How Does Google Search Use Synonyms?

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How Does Google Search Use Synonyms?


Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller explains how the search engine uses synonyms and whether there’s a human component to it.

Mueller discusses this topic when addressing a question submitted to the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on January 14.

The question asks how automated the process of understanding synonyms is, and if humans are involved in helping Google understand which words are related.

Further, the person who submitted the question notes that generic keywords sometimes bring up knowledge panels for major brands.

They give the example of “moving trucks” bringing up search results for the Budget truck rental company.

Mueller touches on each of these concerns in his response, which you can read below.

Google’s Understanding Of Synonyms Is All Automated

Google’s system of understanding synonyms is fully automated, Mueller confirms.

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There are no humans manually writing code to teach Google’s algorithms which words mean the same thing as other words.

“As far as I know, the whole synonyms system is completely automated. It’s not something where someone is manually working on a spreadsheet of synonyms and saying, ‘well this is the same as this,’ because that would never really work out.

We see something along the lines of 10-15% of queries completely new every day. So it wouldn’t be possible for someone to keep up with this all the time.”

Mueller references a video from a conference in 2019 where Google Engineer Paul Haahr explains in more detail how the synonym system works.

The video contains real-world examples Google has come across where it got synonyms wrong and how its engineers learned from those mistakes.

“There is a video from one of the events that we did, I think like two or three years back now, where Paul Haahr, one of the engineers that works on the system, kind of presented some of the situations that we ran across with regards to synonyms, where we try to figure out like what are the synonyms here and some of the cases where we got things completely wrong.

And I thought that was really interesting to look at there. And if you’re interested around synonyms, and how google figures that out, I would definitely check that out.”

That leads to Mueller addressing the situation where generic keywords bring up search results for brand names. He says that’s likely something that Google’s algorithms learned automatically.

Mueller reiterates the automated system doesn’t get everything right, but searchers are always welcome to submit feedback.

“With regards to that generic switch between “moving truck” and Budget Truck Rental, that’s something where most likely we also learn that automatically. And some of these cases we get well, where things kind of work out, or essentially kind of make sense. And some of these we get wrong.

If you see cases where we get synonyms wrong then definitely send us feedback in the search results so that we can try to figure out what we can do to improve that.”

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Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:


Featured Image: Brasil Creativo/Shutterstock





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SEO

How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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