How Google Handles Abbreviations: Everything You Must Know

Ever wondered how Google handles abbreviations, i.e. how Google’s algorithm rank pages that contain abbreviations?

Google’s John Mueller recently answered a question about how Google’s algorithm handles abbreviations.

Google’s algorithm only handles abbreviations as it would any other word, so synonyms are included. For example, if you used the phrase “Google’s John Mueller” in your text, the algorithm might detect that “John Mueller” can be replaced with “JM.”

The person asking a question wanted to know how Google handled abbreviations such as “eg” which means ergo. They related that they have a lot of these kinds of abbreviations on their site. John Mueller answered: “And the short answer is we don’t do anything special with those kinds of things. We essentially treat them as tokens on a page. And we would probably recognize that there are known synonyms for some of these and understand that a little bit. But we wouldn’t really do anything specific there in that we’d like to have a glossary of what this abbreviation means and handle that in a specific way. So that’s something where, especially when it comes to synonyms, our systems learn these over time.

The Purpose of Using Synonyms

Paul Haahr, Distinguished Engineer, Search at Google explained that synonyms are amongst our language understanding systems. The purpose of the synonym system is to bridge the gap between user vocabulary and query vocabulary or simply user vocabulary and document vocabulary.

Google has been trying to match up the queries written in a different language than those that are used in the document. The way this actually works is we add a bunch of terms with “OR.” Google’s synonyms system works effectively by taking a user query and adding a lot of OR terms to it. So when one does accounting, one might be looking for information about accountants, accounting firms, or sometimes even accountant anchors. It’s sort of just like what you would think as an OR connection there.

Paul References the Above Text As Citation

Google and Abbreviations

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about how Google’s algorithm handles abbreviations. Mueller answered the question in-depth, explaining how these are essentially synonyms and that Google doesn’t do anything particularly special with abbreviations.

However, if you’re specifically targeting an abbreviation as a keyword, it would be best to make sure your content uses the abbreviation as well.

If you use abbreviations on your site, do not worry about how Google will understand it. Google does not do anything particularly special with abbreviations. Furthermore, abbreviations are considered synonyms of the words they represent, so there is nothing to worry about from an SEO perspective.

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