Suddenly, Google Search Is Less Semantic

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Until about a week ago, Google provided us with synonyms and variations – “auto-stemming” – of every search term (unless we put it in quotes). It still does, but noticeably less so.

Previously, searches like supervisor -supervisor -supervisory -supervisors gave us synonyms for the word “supervisor,” like “manager”. Now the search produces no results.

Previously synonyms readily made it to the most relevant results:

This is no longer true – we get exact term matches for the high-ranked results.

From what I have observed, auto-stemming and synonyms are still “there” but “activated” only when we search for something specific. This search, for example, does produce “managers”:

supervisor -supervisor -supervisory -supervisors job “night shift” scheduled maintenance aviation.

The change feels like a step back to me. I wish someone from Google would comment! But,

Google will still find synonyms and word variations of the terms for a narrow search.

Does the change mean we should start using ORs on Google to search for synonyms? Not really. It means we may want to search more times, though. Here is an example.

site:linkedin.com/in java backend engineer – 389 results

site:linkedin.com/in java backend developer – 363 results

Total unique results from the two searches – 638

site:linkedin.com/in java backend developer OR engineer – 390 results.

Instead of using ORs, run subsequent searches with your terms.

Check out the new, 6th, edition of the “Boolean Book” and accompanying webinar.

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