From building and improving search on, my fellow engineers and I have learned a lot about how people search and why factors such as stemming, spelling, and synonyms are so important, even in the context of our business tools.

One of our first and most important observations was that returning zero results for a search query is one of the fastest ways to frustrate visitors – and lose potential customers. Shoppers who have made it to your site and searched for a product or category have expressed clear interest in buying from you, and returning no results is akin to accidentally forgetting to turn around the "Closed" sign on your storefront door in the morning!

Fortunately, retailers do have tools available to avoid this pitfall: automatic stemming, spell-checker, and synonym dictionaries can help ensure that customers find related or similar products on your site, even if they don't type in the exact product name or description text.

Like, Google Commerce Search has always arrived "out of the box" with the best automatic stemming, spelling, and synonym technology available. Starting today, it's become even easier for retailers with unusual or distinct product catalogs to upload and manage custom synonym dictionaries.

Now retailers who choose to enable advanced synonym options can simply add sets of synonyms specific to their product lines and can also trigger search expansion, so that the query as typed automatically triggers results for synonymous products.

Google already has a large body of synonym data for general search terms, and since Google Commerce Search lets you harness many of the search features of, you shouldn't bother replicating the work. Instead, focus on adding synonyms for queries specific to your product line or online store.

It's easy for search engine administrators to add synonyms to their accounts. Simply log into the control panel and add or delete search terms you want to trigger the synonym expansion. Or, if you have a large number of terms to add, you can create an XML file and quickly upload that to your account.

We hope you'll join us on our quest to end unnecessary zero result queries!

Posted by Tianyu Wen, Software Engineer