Synonyms are a list of words attached to a keyword. Keywords are words or phrases that you have identified as typical terms within your organization.

Keywords provide definitions for common terms that are used within your organization. Each keyword entry can also be associated with synonyms. If a term in a search query is defined with synonyms, the synonymous terms will be added to the query.

Synonyms are generally defined in order to accomplish a specific business purpose, such as:

  • force users to locate a certain product when they search for the product type
  • perform acronym expansion
  • locate documents containing synonymous terms

Keywords can only be used within the site collection where they are defined. Keywords are used manually to improve the search result.

When users search for the keyword, results from all synonyms will also be displayed in the search result. When users search for a two-way synonym, results from the synonym will be displayed in addition to the results from the keyword and all other synonyms. When users search for a one way synonym, only results from the synonym will be displayed.

Query terms must match the keyword or its synonym exactly. Partial matches against the keyword or synonym will not yield results. Keywords can only be used within the site collection where they are defined.

There are two Keywords options under the Site Collection Administration in the Site Settings page:

  • Search keywords
  • FAST Search keywords

To access the Site Settings page, navigate to your site, click Site Actions, and then click Site Settings.

When you add a keyword phrase, you can define one-way or two-way synonyms, and a keyword definition. Separate multiple synonyms with a semi-colon. Keyword definitions will take effect immediately.

To add a keyword:

  1. On the Manage Keywords page, click Add Keyword to display the Add Keyword page.
  2. In the Keyword Phrase box, type a word, name, acronym, or phrase to be defined as a keyword. Terms that are often used in searches make good keyword terms. When defining keywords, work from a list of popular sites, processes, and tools used by your organization.
  3. Type terms with a similar meaning in the Synonyms box. The definition of the keyword and its Best Bets is featured above the search results when any synonym of the keyword is used in a query. Separate synonyms with a semicolon (";").
  4. In the Definition box, provide a definition to display above the core search results whenever the keyword is used in a query.

If you try to define a phrase as a keyword when it is already a synonym for another keyword, you will see an error message. An Edit Keyword hyperlink to the related keyword definition is provided. You can click this link to jump to the related keyword definition and remove the synonym if appropriate.

Learn more about these and other Enterprise Search topics in one of our Microsoft Learning | FAST University classes. To register online visit www.fastuniversity.com or contact an Education Consultant for assistance at fastuniv@microsoft.com.  

By David Codrington