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Semantic Search

Semantic Search? Oh, I was already using it!

What is Semantic Search?

  • Semantic search is a searching method or technique.
  • In this technique, not only the searched term but the texts or words having similar meanings are also searched.
  • As the word semantic suggests- relating to meaning in language or logic. (by oxford dictionary), it is clear that the context is searched not only the searched term.
  • According to Wikipedia Semantic means-  the study of reference, meaning, or truth.
  • All these definitions of semantic explain what semantic search really means.
  • In short, semantic search is the search for the contextual meaning of the searched term or query.
Example of Semantic search
  • In the above example, we can see that when we are searching for what to read, google search is suggesting to us the name of books.
  • This is an example of the semantic search, on what to read was taken by its contextual meaning, rather than just the keywords.
Example of Semantic Search
  • Similarly in the above image, we can see the results of what to watch this weekend, is showing us the list of movies and shows.
  • I hope by now it must be clear what semantic search is all about.

Are we already using it, in our day-to-day life?

  • By now you must be wondering where else you have been using semantic search in your life, so let’s make a few real-life examples from your mind.
  • The most common example is online shopping.
  • Online shopping brands such as Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra are using Semantic Search for their apps.
  • Not only on the searches it is also getting used in the recommendation systems of the online shopping apps.
  • Google search or internet search is also an easy-to-understand example of semantic search.
  • Social media such as Facebook and Instagram are using it up to a great extent by showing us all the possible meanings of what we have searched for.
  • In online shopping, say you want to buy a shirt, so you searched for it, then whenever you click on a shirt it shows you matching watches, jeans, and all.
  • This is how the semantic search is mapped here, i.e. if someone is searching for clothing he might be interested in the accessories related to it.
Example of Semantic search on Myntra
  • From the above example, we can see when we are searching for jeans, it is showing us results for all types of jeans irrespective of gender.
  • But when you log in and you are going to search for the same, the result will vary according to your previous searches.
  • We can conclude that there is a mapping between our search history to the query we are searching.
  • Not only the search history but also our location, preferences, and contextual meaning is mapped to the semantic search.

This is how Semantic Search Works?

  • I will share the basics of the semantic search algorithm.
  • The main keys that are used in a semantic search are-
    • Text matching( synonyms, words with similar meaning)
    • User location(It plays a key role while showing the result)
    • Global and User Search History(It helps in understanding the preferences of the users)
    • NLP (Natural Language Processing Algorithms)
  • Text matching is the first thing that is used, via the lexical matching engine.
  • Based on the user location and history the ranked web pages are shown, these rankings keep on changing.
  • Web-based semantic search works differently from a product-based search such as Amazon or Flipkart.
  • Google uses Knowledge graph techniques to meet the best results for the web-based search.
  • Google’s Knowledge graph is the Google database that has the dataset about people, places, and things.
  • The knowledge graph was a milestone in the web semantic search history.
  • It revolutionaries the search results.
  • You can read more about it from – Google Knowledge Graph
Example of Google’s Knowledge Graph database when searching for Elon Musk
  • According to Google, this information is received from various trusted resources, such as Wikipedia.
  • Now coming to the product-based Semantic search, let’s see how Amazon does this.
  • Amazon has already published a paper on how they use semantic search for their products. Semantic Product Search
  • At the basic level, amazon uses the Neural Network Architecture, Loss Function, Tokenization Methods to improve the results.
  • In the below diagram, we can see Amazon’s System architecture for augmenting product matching using semantic matching
source: https://assets.amazon.science/95/2f/51e4ebdb4347990fedc1815d7327/semantic-product-search.pdf
  • From the below diagram we can see the Illustration of neural network architecture used for semantic search in Amazon.
source: https://assets.amazon.science/95/2f/51e4ebdb4347990fedc1815d7327/semantic-product-search.pdf


  • We can conclude that directly or indirectly we are always using semantic search in our life, either for shopping or for web surfing.
  • I hope that this blog will help you to understand the basics of Semantic Search.
  • In the upcoming blog, we will try to implement it.

Thanks for Reading!


  • https://assets.amazon.science/95/2f/51e4ebdb4347990fedc1815d7327/semantic-product-search.pdf
  • https://support.google.com/knowledgepanel/answer/9787176?hl=en

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Disrupting the Tech World: Product Owner at NerdyBio, Python Powerhouse, AWS Ace & Prolific Tech Blogger 💻💥

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