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Capitalisation Affects Google Results

00:00 on Tue, 3 Mar 2009 | SEO | 1 Comment

It would appear that Google is showing different search results in some cases, depending on whether to searcher uses capitalisation in their search query or not.

Ryan kindly supplied me with this example today:

A search for Woolacombe Holiday Cottages (with caps) produced this:

 

Google Search Result Without Caps

(Note: I've cut out the local results and paid search results for ease)

So we have:

Position #1 = woolacombe-cottages.co.uk
Position #2 = woolacombe-cottages.co.uk (sub-page)
Position #3 = woolacombeholidaycottages.co.uk
Position #4 = northdevonholidays.co.uk
Position #5 = marsdens.co.uk

 

However, a search for woolacombe holiday cottages (without caps) produced this:

 

Google Search Result With Caps

(Note: I've cut out the local results and paid search results for ease)

So we have:

Position #1 = woolacombe-cottages.co.uk
Position #2 = woolacombeholidaycottages.co.uk
Position #3 = northdevonholidays.co.uk
Position #4 = marsdens.co.uk
Position #5 = resort-guide.co.uk

 

So we actually have two fairly distinct set of search results here, which at first is surprising. How many people use capitalisation when they search? Not many that I know (I even did a small office test, it was 14-0).

When we tried to replicate this result, we found we could in several different SERPs, however it could only be replicated when Google was handling navigational queries - trying to distinguish between a generic search term and a company / website name.

Our first thoughts were, perhaps the use of capitalisation would indicate the user is searching for a brand / company name / website name, as oppose to a generic search so Google responds by giving intents to what it thinks may be that site. Unfortunately, further researched showed that not to be the case with non-caps searches sometimes returning intents and other times vice-versa.

I'd be interested in outside opinion - is this a bug, or something else? Why would Google pay attention to capitalisation? (Maybe something to do with acronyms?). As far as a I can tell, Google Analytics forces keyword data into lowercase, so it is not possible using their own tool to see how many caps/non-caps searchers you have.

Comments & Discussion

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Daren

Daren • Years ago

I use capital letters in searches when they're appropriate (e.g. names of people, films, bands etc.). I would hope Google results for names would be of higher quality if matched on case, rather than ignoring it. Certainly it seems to be that case matters merely in terms of the number of results found, let alone the ranking of pages. e.g. "12,200,000 for Kylie Minogue", "5,300,000 for kylie minogue".

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