Common Phrases

Use common phrases to decrease noise in your search results by giving customers more targeted results for multi-word search queries.

A common phrase is a search term with 2-5 words which must be next to each other and in a specific order. For example, bed in a bag is a common phrase because a search for bed or a search for bag shouldn't return bed in a bag as a product. Only a search for the exact phrase bed in a bag should return bed in the bag products.

As another example, customers who search for tables shouldn't get table lamps, because table is a descriptor and lamp is the desired result. On the other hand, if a customer is searching for lamps, they should see all types of lamps, including table lamps.

Common phrases can be staged with other search features. Common phrases can be imported using the search2.xsd schema. Common phrases can be exported and imported via Site Import and Export.

See Creating Common Phrases.

Search Modes: Exact Match and Last Word

You can configure the common phrases feature to use different matching options:

  • Exact Match: If you search on the exact phrase, only products that include the exact phrase are returned. The exact phrase is all the words in the phrase in the same order and next to one another. Search queries that include terms from the common phrase don't return any of the products that contain the common phrase. For example, if table lamps is a common phrase with exact match, then searching on table lamp returns only table lamps. Searching on table, lamp, or lamp table doesn't return table lamps. This is because during indexing, table lamp is indexed as a single phrase and not indexed for the individual terms.
  • Last Word Match: if you search on the last word in the phrase or the exact phrase, products including the exact phrase are returned. For example, if table lamps is a common phrase with last word match, then searching on table lamp returns only table lamps. However, unlike exact match, searching on lamps returns all types of lamps, including table lamps. This is because during indexing, table lamp is indexed as a single phrase and as the last word in the phrase, but not any additional terms in the phrase.

Exact Match Example

For exact match, the customer must search for the common phrase exactly as it is configured, so that the words in the phrase are adjacent and in the same order. Normally, exact match is used for phrases with individual terms that produce items unrelated to the phrase. Customers are not searching for individual terms with the phrase, they are only searching for product described by the full phrase. In the following examples, exact match is a good choice for the bed in a bag phrase, because a customer is likely searching for the exact phrase.

Match Configured common phrase Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact bed in a bag bed in a bag
  • bed in a bag​
  • Beds​
  • Bags (tote bags, handbags)

Last Word Match Example

For last word match, the customer must search for the whole common phrase or the last word in the phrase for products including the common phrase to be returned. Normally, last word matching is used when the last word in the phrase is the most significant and you want to include the results for the exact phrase whenever the last term is searched for. In the following examples, last word match is a good choice for the dress shirt phrase, because a customer searching for dresses doesn't want to see dress shirts. If the customer is searching for shirts, you want to return shirts, including dress shirts.

Match Configured common phrase Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Last word dress shirt

dress

(dress AND NOT dress shirt)

  • Women's dresses
  • Casual Dresses
  • Dress shirts
Last word dress shirt

dress shirt

(dress shirt)

  • Dress shirt​
  • Women's dresses
  • Casual Dresses
Last word dress shirt

shirts

(shirts AND dress shirt)

  • Dress shirt​
  • T-shirts
  • Casual shirts
  • Short-sleeve shirt
 

Common Phrase Query Processing

Stemming

Stemming is applied before common phrases are processed, so that it doesn't matter whether the phrase is singular or plural when it's configured by the merchant or entered by the customer as a search term. Plurals in a search phrase only matter if they change the word stem. In the example below, the common phrase winter scarves isn't found for winter scarf, but winter gloves is found for winter glove.

Match Configured common phrase Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact bermuda shorts

bermuda shorts

(bermuda AND short)

  • bermuda short
  • bermuda shorts
 
Exact knitted scarf

knitted scarves

(knitted AND scarv AND NOT knitted scarf)

  • scarf
  • knitted scarf
Last Word knitted scarf

scarves

(scarv AND NOT knitted scarf)

  • scarf
  • knitted scarf

Special Characters

Special characters are automatically removed from configured common phrase in the same way they are removed from search phrases by the query cleansing processor.

Compound Words

Compound word processing happens before common phrases, so that if the common phrase was entered as a single search term by the customer and a compound word is configured, it's still found.

For example, if a customer searches for babydoll:

  • If baby doll is configured as a common phrase and baby-doll is configured as a compound word , then items containing baby doll or babydoll are found, but not items containing only baby or doll.
  • If baby doll is configured as a common phrase and a compound word isn't configured, then only items containing baby doll are found and items with baby, dollor babydoll are not.
  • If no common phrase is configured, but baby-doll is configured as a compound word, then items containing baby, doll, babydoll, or baby doll are found.
Match Configured common phrase Configured compound word Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact baby doll baby-doll babydoll
  • Babydoll dresses
  • Baby doll pajamas
  • Baby dolls
  • Doll dresses
  • Baby blanket
Exact baby doll nothing configured babydoll
  • Babydoll dresses
  • Baby doll pajamas
  • Baby dolls
  • Baby blanket
  • Babydoll dresses
Exact nothing configured baby-doll babydoll
  • Babydoll dresses
  • Baby doll pajamas
  • Baby dolls
  • Baby blanket
  • Doll dresses
 

Stop Words

Stop words are not removed from a common phrase. For example, bed in a bag is different from bed bag.

Match Configured common phrase Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact bed in a bag bed in a bag
  • A bed in a bag
  • beds in a bag
  • bed bag

Brand Correction

Brand correction processing is applied before common phrase processing, so that any brands in the entered search phrase are corrected and the common phrase can be found.

Match Configured common phrase Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact TV stand Mitsushi TV stand
  • Mitsubishi TV stand
 

Synonyms

Synonyms do not apply to common phrases. If Christmas tree is defined as a common phrase and Christmas and X-mas are considered synonyms, that doesn't make X-mas tree a common phrase. X-mas tree must be defined as a common phrase separately.

None of the words in a common phrase are used to look up synonyms. For example, if tree and forest are defined as synonyms, and Christmas tree is defined as common phrase, forest isn't added to the search query because tree is part of the common phrase.

X-mas tree can be defined as a synonym of the common phrase Christmas tree. In this case, X-mas tree is added to the search query when searching for Christmas tree, but is not itself a common phrase.

Note: Hypernyms behave in a similar manner.
Match Configured common phrase Configured synonyms Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact Christmas tree
  • tree
  • sapling
Christmas tree
  • Christmas tree
  • Christmas tree skirt
  • Maple sapling
  • Christmas sapling
Exact Christmas tree
  • Christmas tree
  • X-mas tree
Christmas tree
  • Christmas tree
  • Christmas tree skirt
  • X-mas tree
  • tree skirt for X-mas
 

Word Position and Multi-Word Search Phrases

All words in a common phrase must be found in the order in which they are configured. Any additional terms in the search query must be before or after the common phrase.
Match Configured common phrase Entered search phrase Returns products Does not return products
Exact Vermont ice cream

Vermont ice cream

(Vermont ice cream)

  • Vermont ice cream
  • Chocolate Vermont ice cream
  • Vanilla Vermont ice cream
  • ice cream made from Vermont cows
Exact Vermont ice cream

ice cream Vermont

(ice AND cream AND Vermont AND NOT Vermont ice cream)

  • ice cream made from Vermont cows
  • Vermont ice cream
  • Vanilla Vermont ice cream
  • Chocolate Vermont ice cream
Exact Vermont ice cream

Vermont ice cream chocolate

(Vermont ice cream AND chocolate)

  • Chocolate Vermont ice cream
  • Vanilla Vermont ice cream
  • chocolate eggs
  • Vermont maple syrup
  • Vermont ice cream

Phrase Length Override

A customer might enter a search phrase that matches more than one common phrase. The phrase with the longest number of terms takes precedence, because it's more specific. If phrases don't contain the same words and are the same length, then they both apply.
Match Configured common phrases Entered search phrase Returns products with Does not return products with
Exact
  • Vermont ice cream
  • ice cream
Vermont ice cream
  • Vermont ice cream
  • ice cream made from Vermont milk
Exact
  • Harry Potter
  • magic wand
Harry Potter magic wand
  • Harry Potter magic wand
  • Harry Potter's first true magic wand
  • Magic Harry Potter wands
  • Harry's magic potting wands

Create Common Phrases

Common phrases are multi-word phrases which mean something different together than each of the words individually.

  1. Select site > Merchant Tools > Search > Common Phrases Dictionary.
    A message appears on this page indicating if the site is configured for regional locales to inherit the linguistic rules defined for their language locale. You can change the setting on the Search Preferences page.
  2. On the Common Phrase Dictionary page, click New to add a new common phrase.
  3. Enter a comma-separated list of common phrases.
    For example: bed in a bag, baby doll
  4. Select one of the following two values:
    • Exact Match: If you search on the exact phrase, only products that include the exact phrase are returned. The exact phrase is all the words in the phrase in the same order and next to one another. Search queries that include terms from the common phrase don't return any of the products that contain the common phrase. For example, if table lamps is a common phrase with exact match, then searching on table lamp returns only table lamps. Searching on table, lamp, or lamp table doesn't return table lamps.
    • Last Word Match: If you search on the last word in the phrase or the exact phrase, products including the exact phrase are returned. For example, if table lamps is a common phrase with last word match, then searching on table lamp returns only table lamps. Unlike exact match, however, searching on lamps returns all types of lamps, including table lamps.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Rebuild the product and content indexes. If you don't rebuild these indexes, the query parser identifies the terms as a phrase, but returns hits on all of the terms, as though they were synonyms. A full rebuild of the indexes is required, because incremental indexing does not register the change.
For additional information about common phrases, see Common Phrases.