Better Google Custom Search results with synonyms

Most blogs have search bar/box installed to help readers find what they are looking for in your blog. However, what your readers will or will not find depends solely on the search term (word or phrase) they enter in the search box. If they enter a different (albeit having the same meaning) term from what you wrote, they won’t  get the desired results, even though what they are looking for is actually right there in your blog.


Before adding synonyms

Let me give you an example: the word “centre” (UK English for “center”). When I entered this in my search box it yielded only two results:

default custom search results

Hmm… I know for sure that I have the word “center” in my blog. I have posted how to align header and how to align a pages gadget, surely a few “center”s must be lying around in there somewhere, waiting to be found.

Now we come to the synonym part; What if I add “center” as a synonym to “centre”. Will I get more than two results, or at least get those two posts listed?

Note: Synonyms is not applicable to Search Box gadget added via Design > Page Elements.


Adding the synonym

Okay let us do just that, and see what happens:

  1. Login to Google Custom search. Click Manage Your Existing Search Engines link (or Create a custom Search Engine button if I’m making a new custom search engine).
  2. Click on Control Panel link of my chosen custom search engine.
    select which custom search engine 
  3. Click Synonyms link under Control Panel on the left sidebar.
  4. Click Add button to add the synonyms.
  5. Enter the expected search term (the word or phrase that your readers might enter) in the top field. I enter the word “centre” here.
    add trigger phrase and synonyms  
  6. Enter synonyms in the bottom field. These are terms that exist in your blog.  I enter “center” here.
  7. Click OK button when done.

    After adding synonym

    Having added the synonym I once again search for “centre”, and voila!, more than 2 results comes out. I actually get 22 results, with the two posts mentioned above rank in top spots. So it does work… I’m happy.

    custom search results after synonym added

    If your blog contains terms specific to a field and less known to the laymen, I suggest you try this synonym thing out.


    11 comments to "Better Google Custom Search results with synonyms"

    Khairi July 10, 2010 at 10:58 PM    

    Great job!!

    Greenlava July 11, 2010 at 1:02 AM    

    Thanks, how's the new domain?

    papabear July 11, 2010 at 1:40 AM    

    wow! this is something new that I have learned today :)

    Greenlava July 11, 2010 at 11:27 AM    

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Mary July 11, 2010 at 8:33 PM    

    I'm really, really disappointed that Google custom search doesn't automatically include this. Now it's making me wonder what other features of a well-behaved search engine it's not automatically enabling.

    Greenlava July 12, 2010 at 12:28 PM    

    Google surprises me too, now and then :)

    Mistress Of The Castle January 13, 2011 at 3:28 AM    

    Your post is informative. But how did you get your results to show the post title and description. My google custom search results titles shows the name of my blog and not the name of the posts and for a description it shows whatever.

    Greenlava January 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM    

    @Mistress Of The Castle
    That has nothing to do with Google, and everything to do with your page title and description meta tag.
    And you want to remove the title meta tag, because you already have the title in < title> tag.

    Mistress Of The Castle January 14, 2011 at 12:41 AM    

    Thanks for your reply. I'll try that.

    Mistress Of The Castle January 31, 2011 at 2:12 AM    

    Well, its been a few days and google still has not indexed all the posts. Some search results are showing the name of the blog and for the description it is showing some labels I had separated by commas! Since then, I remove the labels but they are still showing.

    darla chinta April 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM    

    hrmm..i am lost..;(

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