Errors in Search


Depending on the facts and figures you look at, there are around 10 million misspelled search queries every single day.

This accounts for 10 to 15% of search queries being misspelt – which is a fairly significant number when you break it down (and enough to make 10 to 15% of the population’s English teachers shake their heads disapprovingly).

Once you get over the fact that apparently many of us struggle to spell, it opens up a new thought process – what can we do about this, and can we, as online whizz-kids, use it to our advantage?

Bad spelling vs good SEO

In the world of digital marketing, understanding the terms and phrases people use when they search is big business. From semantic keyword understanding to using tools like Answer the Public, digital professionals are always looking to understand what real people are saying – and how they’re saying it. But what if the words and phrases they’re using aren’t spelt correctly?

This is where you can make your mark. Tweaking your SEO efforts to allow for errors in search terms may offer new possibilities for those looking to rank for relevant terms – particularly in competitive industries, where competition for main keywords is fierce. Take those same main keywords, and spell them wrong, and you’ve got your in.

One thing to remember is that this tactic doesn’t work for everything. No one’s saying you should start randomly misspelling all of your keywords in a bid to hit the top of the SERPs (Search-engine result page). One, Google will spot that a mile off, and two, if no one else is spelling them like that, then you’re going to look a bit silly. Well, really silly.

The key here is to target strategic misspellings. These are the words that people commonly get wrong, such as ‘jewelery’, or ‘buisness’, or ‘accomodate’. Here, we share our top tips on how you can find these, and then use them to your advantage:

Do your research

You know your industry, so it might be that you can identify popular misspellings fairly quickly. If you need a hand, look in blogs and forums, or use Google searches to help you find out what terms other people are using – and then think about all the ways you could get them wrong. Tools like Answer the Public are another great way to find out what questions and phrases people are using, based on the keyword that you enter; they often throw out some interesting spellings, too.

You can also find tons of keyword typo generators online if you need a helping hand. You simply tap in some of your main keywords, and it gives you a list of possible misspellings. Genius (oh, the irony).

A great example of this is Giphy, the home of quality giffage. Their website isn’t spelt in the way most expect, and you’ll find that they’ve covered themselves for this. Type in ‘Giffy’ incorrectly to Google and you’ll still see Giphy sitting at the top of the SERP. Similarly, if you use voice search and ask for it to open ‘jiffy’, you’ll still get Giphy. Clever, right?

Check the volumes

The key to making the most out of these misspellings is that they’re spelt in a way that people actually use. If you’re just spelling things wrong for the sake of it, you’re not going to get very far. You can use the Keyword Planner in Google Adwords to get search volume data and trends around a range of keywords, including misspelt words, which will help you narrow your list down to the most popular mistaken terms.

Don’t overdo it

One thing to be aware of is not going too far with the errors. Sure, some nifty little uses of super common misspellings in title tags and headers can be a clever way to get ahead, and give you an edge over the competition. But that edge starts to soften fast if you go OTT, and start sprinkling your site content with every slang term nd txt tlk typo under the sun. Not only does it look a bit naff, but it could cost you in terms of credibility and authority in the eyes of potential customers.

The idea of targeting misspelled keywords isn’t a new tactic. In fact, some major players have been making waves in the world of shoddy spelling for years. Snickers are one of them, thanks to their 2013 “You are Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, where they created a list of the top 500 search terms. Then, according to Search Engine Watch, they used an algorithm to spin through common misspellings of those words until they had generated a list of 25,381 different misspellings. In just over two days, Snickers managed to get 558,589 ad impressions on those misspellings. Big numbers, based on little mistakes.

The misspelt keywords that brought the most traffic through the Snickers campaign were: wether, amazin, definately, wierd, and facw. Now, it may not be that you can use these in your campaign, but if you come across your own list of words or phrases that your customers struggle with, history shows you may be onto a winner.

how to spell gud
Head back through the Giant Campus archives to read one of our previous blogs on the importance of good spelling online – and whether it has an impact on how people feel about you and your brand.


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