How to deal with spelling variations in search engine optimization PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 July 2010 14:37

English is replete with variations

English language has come a long way on its path to evolution, and it still evolving. The language, though originated in Anglo-Saxon regions has crossed geographical, cultural and political boundaries, and has come to be regarded as a language of common understanding across the globe. So, it is not very surprising that plenty of variations has found their place in English language in terms of usage, vocabulary and spellings.

Narrowing the discussion to spelling variations here in this article, there exists more than one way to spell certain words. None of these ways could be termed as wrong, but they are at best linguistic habits of people hailing from a particular of the part of the globe.

For example, words like colour, optimisation, cheque, enrolment, etc. can give an American visitor of your site an impression that these words are misspelled. This precisely because Americans do not spelled certain words the way they are spelled in UK or Australian or International version of English.

The misspelled words by users

Apart from the variations in English spellings, this is not hard to find that users while searching for a particular stuff in search engines type wrong spellings. On account of this all the web sites that contain the right spellings do not get listed. Instead those web sites containing the wrongly spelled words come on the search pages. The situation of this kind is pathetic as the web sites conforming to the right way of spelling get punished for the ironic fault of being right. This is interesting that web sites with faulty spellings get search promotion whereas the right ones are fighting out for a place in search page results.

Opportunity cost of spelling variations/misspellings

Whatever be the reasons, linguistic variation or misspellings, there is one thing damn definite: you are suffering an opportunity cost. This is simply because users do not type in multiple variants while looking for a specific term in search engines. Once the search pages are displayed, they zero in on the dished out set of information to satisfy their queries. If your web site does not contain the variant of the term the user typed in for getting information in the search engines, you lose your potential traffic.

The loss of traffic, and hence potential business losses are also on the cards for your web sites even in the case where you are not listed in the search pages because of the ignorance of visitor to spell certain word or words in the right manner.

Solutions which are not relevant anymore and may backfire

Webmasters have realized long back that there must be some effective ways to address this special issue. As a result thereof, they found out several methods to deal with the problem, and reached at certain solutions.

Before I will discuss some working solutions toward this end, let’s have a look on the solutions that once remedied the problem, but are no longer effective or practicable due to the fact that search engine algorithm keeps on changing and improving upon its existing deficiencies.

Listing variant spellings and misspellings in keyword tags

In order to prevent the loss of traffic caused due to spelling variants or misspellings, it was quite customary in the time bygone to list all the variants of the keyword and its possible misspellings in keyword tags. Like for example, if a particular page is about elearning, the Meta tags would seem like:


However, this technique ceased to be effective any more as Google does not bother to index Meta tags as of now. This technique in not only redundant now, but also can be detrimental for the visibility in other search engines for your web site. Search spiders do not take this fact favorably that certain keywords are there in the Meta tags and are not logically repeated in the body part.

Taking recourse in visual camouflage

There was yet another tactic to in the past to deal with this problem of variations and misspellings. Basically, webmasters thought that it would be a better idea to hide the keywords in the web pages capitalizing on the visual effect of color. They opted for placing keywords with white text against a white background under the right assumption that users with GUI browser would not be able to discover it.

This tactic worked fine until search engines started looking for color change in the HTML tags, and came heavily against employing such techniques. The web sites might face the music of their degradation in the search engines or an exclusion if they are found to lay back on such unscrupulous means.Solutions that might work

In addition to it, slightly different form of such tactic was masking the color change in Cascading Style Sheets which served the same purpose. Search engines took cognizance of this fact too, leaving webmasters much in bewilderment.

Solutions that might work

There is no any single right solution to deal with the problem under discussion. Every solution that webmasters have thought over has got its pros and cons. However, there are certain solutions that can help sort out this problem only if you employ them in moderation and in due consideration of the goals you are pursuing.

Here are the solutions that can help you resolve this dilemma.

Using all variant spellings and misspelling on the page

This solution, of course, seems to be too generalistic, but can work if used with a sense of judgment and priority. As is clear now that various spellings or misspellings can not be placed anywhere other than the body text as doing so might attract severe results or even ban or penalty from the search engines. In this light, the applicability of this solution can well be considered.

But the applicability of this solution suffers from the fact that not all the variants of all words can be used throughout the web site, or say, a particular web page. Even if it is done so with painstaking efforts, one can imagine the clumsy and cumbersome look it may get in the process. This would not be improper to say such look is downright unprofessional and can drive your potential traffic away.

So, first determine what are the crucial keywords on a specific page you can not afford to miss, and that can attract traffic. Only then, use the possible variants of the keywords, and provide a convincing explanation if you are placing the misspellings too on the page. This will do away with the problem of unprofessional content look while helping you to get the kind of visitors you eye on.

Using faulty spellings in image ALT tags

This is yet another way of dealing with spelling issues but with a little thought and caution. One going for this option should objectively assess its advantages against its very disadvantages.

Writing wrong spellings in the image ALT tags offers the advantage that Google does index it, very much unlike Meta tags. This way you can get the traffic of differing writing habits to your site, and get benefited. With its comes the disadvantage that users who do not use GUI browser can easily see the clutters of spelling in the image ALT tags, raising detrimental issues all over again.

But for users with GUI browser, it is a working solution.


Like better things in life, it is about your discretion. So, enjoy your sense of judgment and act accordingly!

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 November 2010 09:57 )

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