Google May Treat Antonyms As Synonyms in Some Cases

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Google’s Gary Illyes explains a case the place a phrase meaning the alternative could also be handled as a low weight synonym when returning search outcomes.

The instance he discusses is a seek for “buy cars” in which the phrase “sell” can be thought of a synonym.

“Buy” and “sell” are antonyms — so why would Google return pages about promoting vehicles when a consumer is in search of details about shopping for one?

To reply that query let’s dive into the dialog between Illyes and Google’s John Mueller, which takes place in episode 19 of the Search Off the Record podcast.

The episode focuses on data retrieval and the way Google parses queries to return search outcomes. Their dialogue delves into synonyms and the way a time period like “purchase auto” is a low weight sign for the time period “buy car.”


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Mueller then asks the next query:

“One of the issues I seen, you have been speaking about “buy cars” and “buy automobiles” and all of these items, would we additionally take into account “sell” a synonym to “buy”?

In the sense, like if I’m looking out “to buy a car,” would we are saying, nicely, we’re in search of pages that say “sell car“?”

Sometimes Mueller even has to ask questions on search. Here’s the response from Illyes.

Antonyms As Low Weight Synonyms

Illyes responds with a definitive sure. Google will, in reality, search for pages that point out “sell car” when a consumer is looking for “buy car.”


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He clarifies that “sell” is a decrease weight sign than “buy,” but it surely’s nonetheless thought of related to the consumer’s question.

“Yes. You are concerning a subject that’s very attention-grabbing from data retrieval perspective… But sure, we might take into account that a low weight synonym. So “buy” and “sell” from data retrieval perspective is sort of synonyms, which may additionally trigger confusions in fact. Hence, why the weighting was launched.”

Mueller follows up by asking if that is one thing web site homeowners ought to take into accounts when writing content material.

Using the identical instance — if a web site proprietor is making a web page about promoting vehicles ought to they attempt to point out the time period “buy car”?

Illyes advises towards that technique, saying to maintain the content material centered on the audience and what you need them to do after studying the copy.

“I don’t suppose so, as a result of if you’re simply making a web site for the consumer and you’re loading the web page with content material that’s related for what the consumer can do on that web page, like buy a automotive, for instance, then you definately wouldn’t need to overload that web page with the time period “sell” as a result of your main goal is to make the consumer purchase by means of your web site a automotive, proper?

And then there’s a subsection of customers who would need to additionally promote their automotive. But they aren’t your audience. Your goal is to make the consumer purchase a automotive.

… And so far as I bear in mind from my advertising lessons from uni is that you must– nicely, really, not advertising however writing lessons– is to inform the particular person studying the content material what you need from them…”


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This is an efficient instance of the distinction between writing for customers versus writing for engines like google.

Google could return pages that point out “sell cars” when a consumer is in search of “buy cars,” however that doesn’t imply you must write a web page optimizing for each phrases.

Think like a marketer and preserve the web page centered on the motion you need customers to take after studying the content material.

For extra technical particulars about Google’s data retrieval course of, take heed to the total podcast episode.

Source hyperlink search engine marketing

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