Using synonyms to improve search results


Kunskapsdatabasen, Introduktion, SiteSeeker Admin

By using synonyms, you can help users find what they are searching for without having to change the terminology in the existing information.

How does it work?

Popular expressions are commonly used when searching for information, for example, a visitor might be searching for "kindergarten" on a municipal website, while the municipality might rather use the term day care. Or is it called pre-school? By using synonyms, you can offer better service to your users without compromising design or terminology.

Another useful feature with synonyms, when the visitor searches for "kindergarten", the term day care is being highlighted in the results list (after you have added the synonym day care in the Admin tool). In this way, the visitor instantly understands which terms are in use on the website, without lengthy explanations.

How do I manage synonyms?

You can add synonyms in the Admin tool under Synonyms which is located in the Optimise-box. The synonyms are stored in synonym dictionaries. In which dictionary the synonyms are stored does not affect the search, it is just a method for the SiteSeeker administrator to simplify the management. When you choose to add a synonym, you pick two words designated to be synonyms and if they are one-way or two-way synonyms. One-way synonyms produces search results one-way, whereas two-way synonyms produces search results in both directions.

For example: If day care is a one-way synonym to kindergarten, searching for kindergarten, you will see day care highlighted in the results list. If you want the other way around to work too, i.e. a search for day care will also produce a result for kindergarten, you need to configure a two-way synonym relationship between day care and kindergarten.
In addition, you can also adjust the bias between the two terms to fine-tune the ranking of synonyms.

The difference between keywords and synonyms

Using the SiteSeeker synonym functionality is to some degree equal to adding keywords to web pages. There are however many advantages with synonyms (using the example above - "kindergarten" and "day care"):

  • Synonyms are useful for all web pages on a website; a search for "kindergarten" will produce search results on all pages that contains the term "day care". In order to achieve the same result with keywords requires that all existing and future pages must be provided with keywords.
  • When searching for "kindergarten", the search term "day care" will also be highlighted in the results page.
  • Synonyms can be biased so that web pages with the term "kindergarten" are displayed further down in the results list than pages containing the term "day care". This method is useful when you want to promote official information before other types of information, for example individual posts in forums.
  • Synonyms apply to all indexed words, even those in metatags, given that they are searchable as free text (however, if you are performing a search with meta:attribute:value or meta:attribute: = "value", synonyms are not used. For more information, see special queries).

A disadvantage with synonyms compared to keywords is that the extra added knowledge can only be found in SiteSeeker and not in the information source, and that synonyms are invisible to global search engines.