If you just look at the numbers, there is a very compelling case as to why misspelled keywords SHOULD be a part of your on-site SEO. Let’s look at “mortgage” and “morgage” for instance. “Mortgage” (the correct spelling) has 11,100,000 searches locally each month, according to the Google Keyword Research Tool.
Meanwhile, “morgage” has 110,000 searches. While “mortgage” may have a few more zeros that “morgage,” I can’t imagine too many site owners that wouldn’t want a piece of that 110,000 slice pie. So they target both keywords in their on-site SEO in an attempt to rank well for both, hoping to increase their market share and overall online presence.
In my experience, this has almost always proven to be a terrible idea. Here are 2 reasons why:
The search engines run a spell check.
Go ahead and type “morgage” into Google. Right after the PPC ads, you should see something like this:
The search engines are smart and they know that people are going to search for things with misspelled keywords, usually unintentionally so. Think about it, you may reread a business document a dozen times checking for spelling errors, but how often do you put your search queries under the same careful eye? The search engines do a pretty good job of inferring what you meant to type in and pull up results that match the correct spelling. I did a quick scroll through the first ten pages of results and didn’t find a single site listed that used “morgage.”
Granted, searchers have the option to override Google’s spell-check and can choose to search using “morgage,” but how many people are actually going to bother doing that? It’s an extra step most users won’t bother to take, especially since all the information they need is listed in the spell-checked SERP. Even when I did search for “morgage,” all the PPC ads that were listed used the correct spelling.
Misspelled keywords won’t instill trust in your visitor.
How much of an industry expert and authority can you really be if you’ve misspelled important keywords on your site? Your website should make a visitor want to do business with you and feel confident in their decision to do so. Would you want to trust your financial future to a “morgage” company? Probably not. Most visitors to your site won’t even notice if you put a comma in the wrong place or used a colon in place of a semi-colon, but they will start to notice if the same word is misspelled again and again throughout the content of your site.
Intentionally targeting a misspelled keyword is a pretty good indication that you care more about rank than your site’s user-experience. Would you want to do business with a company that doesn’t care about you as their customer? Why should your target audience feel differently? Above all else, your website should be written and designed for a human visitor. It’s very easy to get caught up in tricks and tactics designed to make your site look more appealing to the search engines, but it should never be at the cost of your end-user. At the end of the day they are the ones who are going to be doing business with your brand. Your SEO should focus on making them convert.
As a strictly white hat SEO professional, I would never recommend to my clients that they intentionally target misspelled keywords on their site. There isn’t any real long term SEO value to be had by doing so and it just ends up hurting your brand in the eyes of your target audience. To me, it’s not worth the few extra visitors you might pull to your site. When it comes to keyword selection, stick with the correct spelling!
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com) a full service SEO company based in Boston, MA. With over 12 years of Internet marketing experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers.
Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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