Friday, April 29, 2011

Searching synonyms with tilde (~)

As we saw in yesterday's post, there are a few times when an expanded synonym search is a good idea.  

Here are some examples to get you started:  

Suppose you're flying to the ORD airport (it says so on your ticket).  How might you find a place to rent a car?  

[ rent car ~ord]  -- shows synonyms for ORD (the name of the big Chicago airport).  As you can see from the results, O'Hare is a good synonym for ORD.  (I've highlighted the synonyms below.)  

This is useful when you don't know an area (e.g., around an airport code)--but also when you might not be familiar with the jargon in a specific area.  Say, back pain (again, the synonyms are highlighted): 

You might it's odd that "fracture" is a synonym, but truth is, Google figures out synonyms not semantically, but by patterns of co-use.  Thus, a synonym of Republican is Democrat (they're both used in very similar search circumstances), and "fracture" is often used in conjunction with "bone."  

You can also see the difference if we put a tilde before hound.  Compare the next two SERPs.  

The first two results are the same, but after that, the automatically generated synonyms kick in.  

When should you use the tilde operator?  Answer:  Whenever you need some suggestions about alternative ways to phrase your query.  Use tilde and discover other ways that people talk about your topic!  

Next week, suggestions and how they differ from tilde! 

Search on! 

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