APO is improving the way that search works on our website by updating our metadata with synonyms. The goal of synonym management is to help people who are looking for the same resources, but are using different search terms, reach the same results.
What’s another name for synonym?
Think of synonyms as bringing democracy, or equal opportunity, to the search experience. In the context of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the meaning of synonym is very broad. A key role of synonym management is establishing references between terms that share the same meaning, or in the context of a digital collection, are close in meaning. Some synonyms include:
- ethical investment / responsible investment / socially responsible investing / social investment.
These terms have been used interchangeably throughout policy literature. We want anyone searching with any of these terms to reach the same results without worrying about which is the ‘correct’ phrase.
What about initialisms and acronyms? They provide alternative search paths too – and we are establishing see references (i.e. alternative terms that have the same or similar meaning) between them, for example:
- Islamic State / ISIS / ISIL / Daesh / Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
- LGBT / LGBTQ / non-heterosexual people / GLBTQ people / LGBTQ / LGTBI / LGBTIQ.
Some of these terms are taken from the FAST vocabulary which APO aligns with wherever possible in a bid to link into other collection metadata. Other terms were found in our search analytics report. And one typo was spotted by an APO editor – we added that too. Together they provide multiple access points to the same resources.
Note that we are not asserting that these concepts are identical – only that within the context of a policy collection, it makes sense for resources containing these various search terms to be found together. Some of these may be regarded as quasi-synonyms, or near-synonyms. (Are there many true equivalences in language? I doubt it.)
What about other lexical variants, such as common misspellings, local spellings, irregular and embedded plurals? There is only so much approximating and stemming (reducing words to their word stem, or root form) that a search engine can do. So we monitor our web traffic for additional terms that can be mapped to our resources, such as:
- Aged care / Age care
- Closing the gap / Close the gap
- World Trade Organisation / World Trade Organization
- Prescribed bodies corporate / Prescribed body corporates
- Hygiene / Hygeine
Baking all day
You can’t have too many synonyms in a metadata repository. APO is continuously developing and managing lists of words that appear frequently in policy literature and in search behavior, creating see references that make the search experience consistent for all.
Synonym management is part of APO moderation workflow. Synonym identification is also an outcome of the Linked Semantic Platforms (LSP) project, which aims to enrich the user experience in APO’s resource database. So watch this space!
Oh, and BTW, synonym and cinnamon? That’s a homophone – potentially a mondegreen.
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