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Matt Cutts on Google Spelling Corrections

Google's Thinking Behind Correcting Your Mistakes

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On Google’s Webmaster Central YouTube Channel, Matt Cutts frequently answers questions from users in short clips. In one in particular, he answers the following user question:

Recently, Google has been more proactive in providing results that feature "corrected" spellings. In what way will smart guesses be employed in search results in the future? Can we expect more synonyms in search results, for example?

"If you look at random queries, something like 10% of them might be misspelled," Matt explains.

When Google realized that so many queries were misspelled, that’s when they decided to write what Matt refers to as one of the world’s best spell checkers.

But even if you have huge click thru on "did you mean," there are always some people who didn’t realize it was there, he says.

Google recently introduced a change where they spell correct what they think is the right answer for one or two results, then they’ll show the normal answers underneath.

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This greatly helps out users who just don’t know how to spell the query correctly. Matt notes that it even helps web spam out, because users who enter typos and misspellings don’t see that kind of spam so much because they realize they didn’t spell it right.

Matt says there are lots of ways to tell Google that you are entering exactly what you mean. He says power users can always

- put a + before a word to say "this is the exact word I meant to search for."

- put the query in double quotes

- put double quotes even on a single word

"We try to be smart," Matt says. "If someone types something that looks like it’s a misspelling, but it’s not, we’ll try to figure that out over time. It’s not a case where we roll something out and never make any more changes for several years."

He says Google tries to go with what works for the majority of peoople, and then tries to improve upon it and correct mistakes when it rolls out the next iteration of its algorithm.

Let’s not forget that Google recently made some changes to its SERPs that include other suggestions as well. Intent-based search is one direction that Google is moving in with regards to relevancy.

Matt Cutts on Google Spelling Corrections


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  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Nick Rinylo

    This is obviously an excellent tool, especially for those who can’t spell very well (ME!). But i have had 2 bad experiences with Google and its helpful tools. Firstly when we started with ‘search engine optimisation’ Google UK used to try and change my query to ‘se…optimization’ american spelling. (so i’m was thinking how many users are clicking that link?). That since was fixed and i was happy again…. until now…

    Google has updated the UK search to be similar to the .com in how it tries to predict what your searching for GREAT!!, but now when you start typing search engin…. optimi…. it automatically display the american spelling… arh… Back to the beginning.. I’m sure they’ll fix the spelling errors soon, but for now ill be going crazy.

    I wrote a similar article about the google predictions here which pretty relevant. http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk/news/search-results/did-you-mean-function-on-google.html

  • http://www.trackermo.com Marige O’Brien

    Great… well, if they are, I just hope they expand their dictionary first.

    One excellent example is my first name, Marige. On the occasions when I have searched for it (related to seeing the inbound links from my article marketing efforts), I have often been asked if I meant “marriage” instead.

    Boy!, do I hate that!

    Oh, and here’s an even better one: I cannot get the DNS www.marige.com. Why? A Marriage site bought it. (Grrrrrrr.)

    It’s one thing to “suggest” alternatives. But quite another to override someone’s choice, which may be deliberate even if it isn’t common.

    Marige O’Brien

  • Johnny

    What Google REALLY is doing is stealing searches. Let me explain:

    Google realized that many folks are using Google to search for sites…..like SusansBridalShop.com (an example) in the Google search bar instead of the browser address bar, so G decided to step in and auto correct the surfer so they would click on an ad instead of going to SusansBridalShop.com.

    They also did this with parked pages or and cookie cutter pages. But they don’t do it EVERY time so that they can say they don’t intentionally try to steal traffic. But quite often you will type in a domain into Google search and they will not give you the site as a choice to click on, therefore your choices are what they served you…..which of course has ads…..and a certain percentage of those surfers will click ads and G makes money. The surfers then never went to the intended sites they searched for.

  • http://www.holidgay.hu Gay Budapest

    It is good news. I hope from now we do not have to optimize our sites for mispellings :)

  • Disgruntled

    There are plenty of examples across the net where decent website owners have chosen to go down the path of using a misspelled word or phrase. Way to penalize those folks. Another coin in the bucket for the monarchy, I mean monopoly, oops I mean democracy.

    WHAT HAPPENED TO SIMPLE RELEVANCY?

  • http://www.scritube.com scritube

    Hi Chris,
    I like the ideea to correct my mistakes because som of my pages are in English and i’m not a native English speaking person so is usefull for me.

    I make mistakes and Google wi’ll take care of them.

  • http://dancemusictshirts.spreadshirt.co.uk Dance Music T-shirts

    I completely agree with you Nick the American spelling prediction of ‘optimization’ drives me mad. Surely they will be able to tailor these predictions depending on which Google domain searchers are using. Hopefully they will sort it out soon.

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