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UK Semantics/Synonyms
... well, I think it's important anyway ...

 3:32 pm on Nov 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Forgive my rather limited intelligence and lack of a University Degree in English but aren't some UK and US keywords different?

e.g. if I was heading for the keyphrase "Centre of the Universe" breakdowns would be:


Whereas the US versions are:

Central (which for some reason has been kept the same as UK)

So if Google is currently using semantics and intends to use synonyms then will it have a different database of related words in the UK than in the US?

If you type "centre" into Overture's Keyword suggestion tool it changes it to "center" which is an indication that they are only focusing on their US version of words. But then again, Yahoo won't even allow us Brits to have our own domain for searching - we've been "integrated" - so I guess that shows their standpoint on "international relations".

I can see this making a huge difference to relevant search results should the focus on actual language be increased in the future.



 7:53 pm on Nov 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Semantics are sometimes applied to common UK & American spellings. For example, SERPS for a two word term containing color are close to identical even when spelled as colour. The same similarity applies if the search is done at google.com, google.co.uk, or google.ca.

Note that I say "similar" but not identical. The spelling seems to subtly modify the order of found URL's. The found pages themselves usually only use one spelling of the word in question.

OTOH, SERPs for a two word phrase containing tire are completely different if it is spelled tyre. Google has obviously made the decision that North American searchers are extremely unlikely to care about sites which use the y spelling, and vice versa.

Perhaps the difference in semantic interpretation of colour and tyre has to do with what is common in Canada. If a Commonwealth spelling is common there, then it's likely Google will use semantic interpratation. Otherwise, the words are treated as literals, with no semantics applied (except plural/singular).

-- Rich


 12:14 am on Nov 5, 2004 (gmt 0)


Go to


and Google shows in bold both center and centre.... so it has made a connection..... though what that means I have no idea!


 9:57 am on Nov 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

That URL didn't show any results with the word "centre" that I could see, sorry. Both the US and UK use "central" so it is not just a derivative of centre, did that cause some confusion?

As for the comments regarding the search results for "color" and "colour", I've just checked the top ten results for a search on "colour". Yes, there are sites listed in the top ten that do not actually have that word on their page, just the US version - "color". But if you check the backlinks to those sites (took a while!) they have all been linked to at some point with the UK version of the word "colour".

So I think that is more of a question of anchor text than semantics. As far as I can tell, (and I have actually been looking into this for some time before jumping on the board ;), Google has not invested alot of time in the differences between the UK and the US. Indeed, if I search for "color" on Google.co.uk, shouldn't it ask me if I want to search for "colour" so that I can find more relevant search results for the UK?


 12:12 pm on Nov 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Indeed, if I search for "color" on Google.co.uk, shouldn't it ask me if I want to search for "colour" so that I can find more relevant search results for the UK?


I'm convinced that if Google would commit to properly supporting UK English on google.co.uk then they would get massive positive publicity and goodwill in the UK.


 10:06 am on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>That URL didn't show any results with the word "centre" that I could see, sorry. Both the US and UK use "central" so it is not just a derivative of centre, did that cause someconfusion?

The search is looking for match words of 'centre' and filtering out 'centre' hence none there. e.g. ~centre -centre

Thus Google is matching 'center' and 'centre'.


 10:20 am on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is there possibility to suggest a synonym to Google?

The same applied to my keyword which has to different orthograph (quite similar to colour/color).

keyword1 returns 218 000 results
keyword2 returns 215 000 results


 12:03 pm on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)


I have a site which sells a product which is totally UK orientated. The generic name for the product means one thing in the UK and a completely different thing in the US.

I strongly beleive that one of the key things that got pages from this site back to #1 for their target key words was a change made to Googles dictionary for this term.

Best wishes



 6:15 pm on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just noticed something interesting. Take a 3-word search phrase containing the word grey. 488,000 results. Now add gray at the end as a fourth word. 660,000 results! At a minimum I would have expected less results. Even given that semantic factors are involved, that's a hard one to explain. Backlink text maybe?

Repeated same test at Yahoo. 3 word phrase has 394,000 hits. Adding gray reduces the count to 149,000. I think the latter consists of pages containing both forms of the word, which is a bit more intuitively comprehensible.

This isn't strictly a Commonwealth/American English difference, though. At least in the USA, grey and gray are both common.

-- Rich


 6:29 pm on Nov 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Continuing from my last post. Searching at google.com:

* grey word2 word3 --> 488,000 results
* grey OR gray word2 word3 --> 488,000 results
* grey AND gray word2 word3 --> 659,000 results
* gray word2 word3 --> 475,000 results

It's got to be a bug in their semantic parsing. ANDing in gray should never increase the result count when ORing it does not do so.

-- Rich

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