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Is Google using synonyms (partly) and is this new?
Let's say a Swedish person searches for "widget" (a common word) in swedish at the swedish version of GG (note, the interface also in swedish), and my site is about this but completely in English, there is no Swedish word in the whole site.
My site is actually listed on the SERPS, with the English word "widgets" bolded.
I have also seen this but Spanish-english.
When you look at the cache, they say that the missing word can be found on link poiting to the site, which I'm 99% sure is innacuratte.
However, it seems to be not very obvious when synonyms are used and when not. When searching for a single word it seems that no synonyms are used (e.g. when searching for 'Stellenanzeigen', 'Stellenangebote' are not found). Also if A is used as a synonym for B this doesn't mean that B is used as a synonym for A (e.g. when searching for 'Stellenangebote Hamburg', 'Stellenanzeigen' is not considered).