Ever heard someone use the phrase, “That’s just semantics”? Often, it’s used to suggest that another person is arguing about language and not about ideas — in other words, that the discussion is devolving into something unimportant. But today, semantics are taking on new importance as part of semantic search, a new type of online search technology that is delivering far more relevant results by taking language cues into account. 

It’s so important, in fact, that internet giant Google has devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to developing and refining semantic search as part of its search engine. What they’re trying to do is use artificial intelligence to understand the likely meaning of what you’re asking when you perform a search. Since language is so dependent on intent and context, this can be a huge challenge.

The ideal outcome is a search tool that delivers meaningful results in spite of the searcher using language that could be interpreted in multiple ways. That way, when you ask, “What were Prince’s biggest hits?” you’ll get a list of the musician’s songs that includes “Purple Rain” and “Raspberry Beret” — not a rundown of British boxer “Prince” Naseem Hamad’s most noteworthy fights.

What is Semantic Search?

Let’s take a step back and more precisely define semantic search. Semantic search is an effort to make computers understand the nuances of human speech, including 

  • Relationships between words
  • Query context
  • Searcher intent

Early search engines would take your exact query and try to match it exactly. But that meant that often you’d get a page of results that had no relevance to what you were actually looking for. So companies like Google have tried to use a number of factors, like where you’re located, what similar searches have been made and what your personal search history may indicate you’re looking for.

This feeds semantic search by narrowing down what you’re really trying to find. But semantic search is more: It incorporates how real language uses synonyms, natural phrasing and the matching of concepts. 

The latter involves creating algorithms that assign relationships between entities and relationships. For a very broad example, semantic markup might assign a “pug” and a “toy poodle” as both being dog breeds. They can further be assigned attributes or relationships of being small dog breeds. In addition, Google is looking for consistent results so that “pug” comes up when you ask, “What kind of pet does George Clooney own?” In this last example, the searcher didn’t ask for the specific dog breed, but the semantic search should be able to determine that a dog is a pet and that a pug is a dog.

Semantic search can also help searchers who use a misspelling. That’s why when you type “invest in robatics” into a search engine window, Google will come back with a page that is headed “Showing results for ‘invest in robotics’.” The machine learning that Google is employing can identify that many people who have misspelled “robotics” are actually looking for information on stocks for companies that create smart automation technology.

How Semantic Search is Changing Investing

It’s exciting that Google is making it easier to find what you’re looking for in fewer online searches. But how else is semantic search making a difference, now and in the future? 

One significant use of semantic search is in the investment realm. Both large investment banks and small, individual investors can use the machine learning that powers this refined search ability to hone in on the best investments based on corporate financials or market trends. Semantic search builds relationships between related concepts and lets users make queries using natural language instead of specialized data input. Instead of carefully crafting search queries and ending up with confusing results, you can ask what you’re looking for in natural language and get more relevant information.

Investors can use tools infused with semantic search capabilities to discover new options in fields or locations that are customized for your needs. You can also find related content or see what’s most important to other investors.

How Semantic Search Increases Relevancy

At Magnifi, we’re using semantic search to deliver more relevant results. Let’s look at how that works with the example of “climate change.” Run a search for that term and you’ll find a list of relevant funds that are impacted by climate change. You can then sort the results by return, fees, risk, volume and assets, or filter by vehicle, sponsor, asset class or philosophy. At a glance, you can see funds organized by regions, sectors and much more.

You can also delve down further into climate change-related funds by looking at related searches, such as “low risk climate change funds.” Related insights by financial media give you more information to narrow down your search. You can even save your results in a spreadsheet or share them with others via email or social media.

These specific results save you time and frustration as you try to narrow down options for your own investments. 

Investing can be complicated — and it definitely requires a lot of knowledge and understanding. The trick is to filter through all the information out there to get what you need for smart investment decisions. Magnifi changes this by making it much simpler to find investments that work for you and get the information you need to make the right choices for your portfolio. And if you have a lot of experience sifting through data to get the answers you need, Magnifi frees up more time by using semantic search tools to make the process more efficient and productive.

By interpreting the meaning behind your queries, and not just trying to match keywords, Magnifi provides an alternative to time-consuming investment research that may not even yield the results you’re seeking. Just like Netflix can recommend movies you may be interested in and Amazon can tell you what others like you are buying, Magnifi can help you find investments that are customized to your interests and needs. Whether you’ve had extensive experience in investing or are just getting your feet wet, the tools that Magnifi provides can make a big difference in your investment portfolio’s results.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]