Matt Cutts on Google Spelling Corrections

    April 7, 2009
    Chris Crum

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.


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.