During a hangout submitted question and answer segment, one SEO professional asked John Mueller regarding Google’s synonym system: how automated is it?
In their example that they provided, the phrase “automobile rental” brings up rental cars. This makes sense.
But, they are also seeing situations where searches for generic keyword phrases like “moving truck” or “rental truck” will actually show a brand budget truck rental instead of the synonym, or no alteration at all.
This is similar to a person searching for something like “Inkjet printer” and then getting HP’s knowledge panel.
John explained that the entire synonym 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.
John also said that they see something along the lines of 10 to 15 percent of entirely new queries every day.
It wouldn’t be possible for anyone to keep up with this manually all the time.
Additionally, he referred to a video from one of their events with Paul Haar, one of the engineers who works on the system who presented some of the situations they ran into regarding synonyms.
They try to figure out what are the synonyms here, and some of the cases where they got things completely wrong.
John thinks this video is really interesting to look at.
And, if you’re interested in synonyms and how Google figures this out, he would definitely check this out.
As far as the generic switch between moving truck and Budget Truck Rental, this is something where most likely Google also learned that automatically. In some of these cases, things just kind of worked out or made sense.
In other cases, they get it wrong. If there are situations you see where Google gets it wrong, then definitely send them this feedback in the search results.
This way, they can try and figure out what they can do to improve this.
This happens at approximately the 38:02 mark in the video.