Understanding Word Logic with Google

by Ann Smarty November 15th, 2010 

Besides being an awesome search engine, Google is also a great tool that provides the wealth of cool opportunities for anyone. This post looks at the two ways to use Google to understand word logic. Search marketers and bloggers may find the tips useful for various purposes:

  • Expanding keyword research;
  • Getting content inspiration;
  • Learning English (for non-English speakers like myself it can be a great help in creating content, online tests, etc), etc.

Word logic

Google Sets

Google Sets is one of the oldest, yet overlooked and misunderstood Google Labs projects. Here's how it works:

  1. Provide a few items from a set of things.
  2. Google Sets will try to predict other items in the set (you can choose between Large Set or Small Set of things for the tool to predict).

Unlike popular belief, Google Sets tool is not a keyword research tools, it does not expands your initial query and it does not provide the list of synonyms.

Instead, this tool is based on "common neighbors" logic. If you are interested in looking through the detailed algorithm description, you can find it here - here I am providing a bit simplified explanation:

Google looks at words that often appear together in lists and enumerations. Thus, the algorithm takes into consideration the following:

  • Punctuation: terms which tend to be separated by commas must be relevant, i.e. by forming a list;
  • HTML tags: terms within the same (sets of) HTML tags – for example, <h2> subheadings,
    <li> lists, etc – must be relevant.

For example, if you type a couple of holidays you know, you'll get the list of more various holidays across the world:

christmas, may day, new year's day

How do I use the tool?

The tool is very useful when it comes to expanding your initial list, discovering new tools, etc. Example:

facebook, twitter

Google Sets

Besides that, you can use it to get more possible epithets that tend to go together. Example:

sunny, foggy

Google Sets

Wildcard Operator

Another way to find words that tend to go together is to use a wildcard (*) operator in combination with parentheses. Unlike Google sets, this method will yield an exact match.

A wildcard is used when you are not sure which word you think should go there and want Google to suggest. Google treats a wildcard as a placeholder for a word or phrase that would normally go there.

If you use a wildcard within a phrase in parentheses, this will result in an exact match.

I think it would be easier with examples:

Let's say you want to write a post and you find yourself to use the word "inspiration" too often. So you want to see which other word would normally go with "inspiration". In this case, what you need to do is to search for the following:

[inspiration and *]

... which yields very interesting results:

Wildcard operator

You can even set the topic which you prefer your phrase to be on:

["inspiration and *" ~design]

... where ~design stands for the actual word and its synonyms.


Can you think of any tasks that these tools might turn useful in? Let's discuss!

Post image via trendsspotting.com

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is a blogger and SEO consultant and professional blogger. Check out Ann's personal project My Blog Guest - the forum meant to connect guest bloggers to blog owner for plenty of mutual benefits. Ann also provides guest blogging services.


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6 Responses to “Understanding Word Logic with Google”

  1. One more small trick
    If you want to find antonyms with Google simply start typing the word and then end with " vs". The instant suggest autocomplete should kick in and provide the antonym then and there. e.g., "thin vs".

    And the wildcard will really be useful when it can be used for inline autocomplete plus expansion of word in query, for example if you type "he*hy" it should suggest 'healthy'. Anythig that promotes laziness in typing must be good. Similarly if you type "costa m* CA" it must recognize "costa mesa CA". We should see this soon…
    .-= Mohan Arun L. recently posted: The Paradox of Choice- extrapolated =-.

  2. […] Understanding Word Logic with Google- as a big supporter of semantic analysis and SEO, this post from Ann (via SEP) resonated fer sure. Some great ideas and tools in this one. […]

  3. Jim says:

    What about the company wordlogic that holds the patents for this type of predictive search technology? Do you think Google is infringing on this patent?


  4. Nabam says:

    Antonym tip is incorrect. It doesn't work for every words. Does google has way for searching antonym and synonyms for a word? E.g if I want to find a meaning of a word "apex", I will input keyword as "define:apex". Is there similar for anto, syno etc? Don't tell me different sites which does these.

  5. jon washington says:

    Wordlogic does own patents for search and I imagine one day soon google will have to pay for them. Probably about 400 million or so. Does wordlogic trade as public company, if so probaly will be hostile takeover and google might buy shares instead of dealing with lawyers