Support for Synonyms in Enterprise Search

Corporate communication experts spend a lot of time choosing the right words for the right messaging within organizations for customers and employees so the right meaning can be communicated without any misunderstanding or miscommunication. However even with the best intent by the communicators, the challenge of using different terms to refer to the same item or subject or relating to information exists. How often do we find ourselves using terms that refer to the same thing but we are so used to our choice of one term over the other for no specific reason except as a pattern or habit.

Using synonyms in enterprise search helps identify relevant documents related to the search term so the search is still relevant, even if the term or phrase is not available directly in the indexed documents or data. For example, while searching for files using the term “global”, files with the terms “world” and “international” (synonyms) could also match the criteria and will be listed in the search results. SearchBlox has implemented synonyms in a customized way where the user can specify search terms with synonyms including jargons and acronyms so the user is never left with the “no search results” page. You can specify synonyms for each collection and the list can be customized for query expansion.

Create Synonyms for Search

Synonyms can be added under the collection settings. Go to Collection -> Synonyms tab. Add the synonyms as required and click Save. The collection has to be indexed after saving for the synonyms to take effect (if you have already indexed the collection, then Clear and Re-index).

Synonyms can be given in 2 different ways based on your search requirement:

1. Simple comma-separated synonyms
For example: world, global, international, intercontinental. When the user searches for “world”, “global”, “international” or “intercontinental”, documents containing any of these words will appear in search results. If the user searches “intercontinental”, the results will include documents with “world”, “global”, and “international”, as well as “intercontinental”. Searching for other synonyms will also lead to same scenario.

2. Explicit mappings
Explicit mappings use the symbol “=>” which tells SearchBlox how the words are to be replaced while indexing. Explicit mappings could be of two types:

a.) Synonyms that represents Expand = true
For example:
world, global, international, intercontinental => world, global, international, intercontinental
or
world => global, international, intercontinental
SearchBlox will replace the occurrences of “world” with “global”, “international” or “intercontinental”. Note that in the second example, only occurrences of “world” will be mapped, the words “global”, “international” and “intercontinental” will not be replaced and the results will be as usual for these words.

b.) Synonyms that represents Expand = false
For example:
global, international, intercontinental => world
SearchBlox will replace the occurrences of “world”, “global”, “international” and “intercontinental” with “world”. Note: With this type of mapping, searching for “world” will yield documents with all the words (global, international and intercontinental) where the mapping is done. However searching for “global” will yield no results.

Contact us to learn more about how SearchBlox can make a difference with your enterprise search. Visit our documentation site to learn more about configuration for collections and search results.