Search four typos: Why typos are good for SEO
Every second, there’s a human out there, absolutely butchering a word in Google as the algorithm shakes its head, wondering when the robot revolution will finally occur.
Did you know that the name “Google” itself is a typo? In 1997, a group of Stanford students helped the founders of the popular search engine, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, come up with a new name for the brand then known as BackRub.
Sean Anderson, one of the students, suggested it should be named after the mathematical term, Googolplex, which is the number 1 followed by a Googol of 0s (where a googol, of course, is itself 1100). The unimaginable scale of this huge number was intended to represent the scale of the search engine’s scope. This slightly lengthier name was then shortened to Googol – or rather, mistakenly shortened to Google by the search engine’s founders.
In this article, I’m going to go through the two types of typos commonly made in Google and suggest how from such flawed beginnings, we too can create gold.
1.) The slight misspelling typo
These are small-scale typos – an extra “l” in the word “yellow” or an extra “e” in “green”.
These tend to occur when trying to type out fairly easy to spell words quickly.
Indeed, it’s the simplicity of these words that usually mean that people aren’t on their guard for spelling mistakes.
Comparison site, Money.co.uk, published a report (October 2021) showing the most frequently misspelled brand names on Google and found that people struggled the most with the word Hyundai.
On average each month, Hyundai was misspelt 605,000 times, either being spelt “Hundai” or “Hiundai”.
Other commonly misspelled brands Money.co.uk identified included:
- Lamborghini – misspelt an average of 365,000 times a month (i.e., Lamborgini, Lambogini).
- Ferrari – misspelt an average of 123,000 times a month (i.e., Ferari).
- Hennessy – misspelt an average of 95,100 times a month (i.e., Henessy, Hennesy, Henesy).
- Heineken – misspelt an average of 90,000 times a month (i.e., Heinken).
- Gillette – misspelt an average of 82,000 times a month (i.e., Gillete, Gilette, Gilete).
- Suzuki – misspelt an average of 78,800 times a month (i.e., Susuki, Suzki).
- Häagen–Dazs – misspelt an average of 59,600 times (i.e., Haagen Daz, Haagen Dasz, Haagen Das, Haagen Daaz)
These are all easy errors for Google’s algorithm to overcome as the correct term is so similar to its slightly misspelled counterpart. Nevertheless, it presents an opportunity for a tongue-in-cheek brand to get a chuckle – and perhaps a sale – from the googling goof-up.
The snickers strategy
Snickers famously in 2013, as part of their “you’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, targeted common misspellings (i.e., “buisness” instead of “business”) with a brilliant paid ad campaign.
Within 3 days of launching the paid ad campaign, they’d reached over 500,000 people without seeding.
2.) The conceptual typo AKA the close enough
These typos occur when the searcher has no idea how to spell the thing they’re looking for but have a rough sense of how it sounds. They’re putting themselves out there, being vulnerable and hoping Google will meet them halfway.
In many ways, they are the bravest of the lot.
Much love to the people out there searching for “Ontomatopeeyah” – you’re the real heroes!
Even if their spelling skills don’t demonstrate ability, by trying alone, they’ve certainly demonstrated intent and, in the world of SEO, intent is everything.
Making it easier for people desperate to find you, to find you
Not every “close enough” search is a wild stab in the dark at spelling a complicated word, sometimes it’s simply getting the structure of a brand’s name wrong.
It could be a case of typing “Time and Space” instead of “Space & Time”.
Conducting keyword research on and optimising your website and meta copy for common misspellings is just as important as ranking for the correct spelling of your brand.
It’s important not to let this traffic slip through the cracks just because the person looking for you is not sure how to spell your name.
A great site for finding misspelled variations of the keywords you’re targeting is RankWatch.com.
Here you can generate typo versions of the keywords you care about by selecting from the criteria the site offers.
Typos are essential to the algorithm and you
As marketers, it’s vital to regularly review how people search for things related to your brand, ensuring your content is available to them regardless of how they search for you.
The Snickers example mentioned above demonstrates how successful building a campaign around search insight can be, even when the typos aren’t related to your brand.
Moreso, the millions of typos Google contends with monthly has forced them to become a more intuitive search engine: yes we learn by our mistakes, but the tech does too. This is one reason that the Google algorithm is now able to easily detect context and alternative phrasing, and has moved beyond simply looking at the volume of keywords within a given webpage.
This hasn’t only improved Google, but the lives of content writers around the world.
I haven’t had to write the phrase “best typos made on Google” on every other line because of all the beautiful terrible spellers out there and for that, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!