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  Google Synonyms in Search

Google has made the recent announcement that they are using synonyms more in order to return more accurate results. They've stated that words like "photo" and "picture" means nearly the same thing so they will be interchangeable in the search results.

But, what does this mean for those who do SEO either to their own sites or for others? Does this mean a Thesaurus is now necessary in order to do on-page and off-page SEO?

Let's take the word "tower" for instance that can be used as a noun or a verb. On they list over 20 synonyms for the noun, "tower". Will this mean that for on-page SEO we will now need to use many of these synonyms when we optimize a page?

Also, will the same hold true for link-building where we will need to use the synonyms of specific keywords in order to achieve higher SERPs? For now the impact of this change is untested and unknown. Our feeling though is that this will not have a major impact on most websites.

For a small minority of websites, however, one unintended consequence of this change to using more synonyms by Google may be a less democratic set of results. For instance using synonyms may favor larger, corporate websites that have many natural links, presumably using many different synonyms.

This means that some mom and pop websites that were ranking well for a certain kind of widget may be overtaken in the SERPs by the large corporate website. Whether the searcher is looking for the large site or the small mom and pop site remains to be seen.

Time will tell how this shakes out, but this could be one of the most overlooked algorithm changes to hit in the last couple of years. Many merchants will be at least relieved this rollout has happened after the 2009 holiday shopping season.


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