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SEO for Misspellings

00:00 on Sun, 25 Jan 2009 | SEO | 1 Comment

One of the hallmarks of a good SEO agency is when the user has no idea the page they are looking at has been intentionally optimised for search. One of the hallmarks of a great SEO agency is when they actually get a better user experience after an SEO agency has done some work on the site.

It has always been my belief, if your optimisation includes writing keyword stuffed paragraphs, big chunks of tiny text in a footer or in anyway making your site less efficient and user-friendly, then you're doing something wrong.

This did pose an interesting question in regard to misspellings, however. When chasing high volume and competitive key phrases, a lot of the time it can be more beneficial to rank #1 for a misspelling than #4 for the actual term, due to the drop in clicks outside the top three.

Search Position (SERPs) vs. Click Through Ratio

There has been a lot of research into SERP click-through data, with the AOL User Data leak proving an exceptionally popular source of data.

It's impossible to tie down exact percentages of click-throughs, as factors such as meta descriptions, titles, screen resolution and user intent all play a part in eventual clicks.

Adrian Land has merged four pieces of click-through data to come out with this:



Which is one of the more comprehensive pieces of combined research on click-through data. One conclusion, we can draw though is that from any statistics you look through, the top 3 positions gain around 70-75% of all clicks.

With this kind of data, it is easy to see why it may well be better to rank #1 for a popular misspelling, rather than having a lower rank for the actual key phrase.


Should I create pages with misspellings?

This does leave you in a bit of a dilemma. Do you really want to create pages with misspellings on? While it will drastically improve your chances of ranking for these terms, it will make you look.. Well, a bit stupid.

The answer is a definitive, no! While Google used to use the "Did You Mean?" correction in their search results, the search result page for a misspelling now has the standard "Did You Mean?" link, but the top 2 results shown are now for the (correct) "Did You Mean?" spelling.

For instance, there are thousands of people searching for "Karoeke", rather than "Karaoke". The top 2 positions (which is going to be the vast majority of clicks), are now the same for both search. This means creating a page optimised for the misspelling will land you maximum position of 3 in the SERPs.



A "karoeke" search result


While I may not be a fan of all of the guidelines Google imposes, this is a particular masterstroke. By taking away the benefit of creating pages filled with misspellings, Google have set the web up to be rid of potentially millions of pages of sub-par content.

Looks like it's time to run a website spell check!

Comments & Discussion

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Richard Hearne

Richard Hearne • Years ago

Interesting post, and I'd agree that folk who rely on typos are going to find it increasingly tough as Google's misspelling algos improve over time.

Curious though on the Adrian Land graph - he makes no reference to what research he's rolled up?