Profting From Mistakes
For many years now, getting traffic from search engines when people misspell a word has been a popular technique. I’ve often read that you should include spelling errors in the meta keyword tag on your page. Unfortunately, there is a problem with this advice.
None of the search engines actually index the meta keyword tag!
So, this doesn’t work. It did work a few years back but not any more. Before I tell you what you need to do to target typos, lets look at a few example to see if it’s actually something that you should bother with.
I spent a day this week looking for signs that people do actually make mistakes when searching for stuff. Here are my findings. The numbers associated with each term are the total of searches performed on Overture last month.
eBay: ebey – 6852, rbay – 1055, dbay – 383, sbay – 248, evay – 681, enay – 516, ebqy – 318, ebzy – 202, ebsy – 1010, ebau – 2077, ebah – 99, ebaj – 36, webay – 177, rebay – 197.
Amazon: anazon – 372, amaxon – 486, amazom – 2104, amazob – 38.
Corey Rudl: cory rudl – 702, corey rudel – 40
These are all brand names. Let’s take a quick look at some generic terms.
Soccer: socer – 1098, socccer – 147, soocer – 619, sooccer – 47, soceer – 226,.
Food: fod – 1299, ffod – 198, fodd – 74, ffood – 56, foood – 242.
It’s important to note that with some of the above, people were actually searching for the keywords that they typed in. Also, in the case of the eBay examples, the keywords that I have used may often relate to another topic such as a radio station name. Still, it’s easy enough to see that lots of people do make mistakes when they search.
There are a few things that we can learn from this. The first is that the more a keyword is searched for, the more chance there is that someone will make a mistake – this is obvious. The second is that sometimes people just don’t know how to spell what they are looking for. This is most common with names and technical terms. The third is that people often make mistakes when searching for words that have letters repeated – soCCer, fOOd. They double up the wrong letter or type it too many times. I actually find myself doing this quite often.
Now, keywords that are spelled incorrectly are extremely easy to target on the search engines. Why? Because people who run websites tend not to include information on their sites with major spelling errors. The more professional the site, the less likely it is that there will be a spelling mistake. The sites that do spell keywords wrong tend not to be too hard to beat in the rankings because if they are unprofessional enough to have spelling mistakes for important words, chances are they don’t have too many links pointing to them.
This is where it gets tricky. You don’t want to be appear unprofessional by having spelling mistakes on your site. I don’t recommend doing this just to target the search engines.
So, how do you get some of this traffic?
As I said previously, the search engines do not use the meta keyword tag so this option is out.
This article is, in itself, a big clue. When I put this article on my site, I’ll rank quite well for all of the terms that I mentioned above. I will also add some links to the article. For example, “If you are looking for eBay, Click Here”. Of course, I’ll include my affiliate link.
Therefore, you need to use a bit of creativity on your site to get the spelling mistakes seen by the search engines. One of the most popular ways of doing it is to use hidden text. This could be by making the text really small or the same colour as the background. Don’t do this. The search engines don’t like it and will ban you if they catch you doing it. It’s not worth the risk.
Another option is to write an article and then provide a list of “common misspellings” at the bottom of the article. Generally, this will be OK if you are targeting a keyword that is notoriously difficult to spell. However, there is a slim chance that the search engines would view this as keyword stuffing if they chose to manually review your site. If you do choose to do this, don’t go overboard. As I said, generally, it’ll be OK but not always.
A third option is to provide common misspellings within the text of the article. For example, I could write an article about eBay and put the following in brackets after one of the occurrences of the term eBay – “not eBey as many people think”. If you are targeting a person’s name or a technical term, it can be viewed as helpful to the person reading the article if you tell them how to spell a word correctly.
Another example could be for me to write an article about Corey Rudl. Within the article, I could point out that many people do spell his name Cory but Corey is correct.
As I said, be creative – don’t try to be tricky. You will often find that, in relation to Google, one mention of the keyword in the text of a page will be enough to get you near the top of the rankings if your PR is high enough.
There is one more step that you need to follow. I’m largely focussing on using this to get traffic for your site or as a way to get people from the search engines and forward them on to another site via an affiliate program. So, if people unknowingly make a mistake when they do a search, the title for your page must give the impression that they have found what they are looking for. If they intended to search for eBay, you must make sure that you grab them quickly with your title so that they will visit your site. So, “Review of eBay” would be a good example.
If the title of your listing does not really match what they are searching for, it may alert them to the fact that they have made a mistake.
Now, Google offers alternative spellings if they think a searcher has made a mistake. So, if you are listed at number one for the incorrectly spelt keyword, you have a chance to get them before they click on the link that Google provides to the results for the correct spelling.
The technique that I’ve mentioned here is a very simple way to target the search engines and can often be used effectively by newish sites whose PR is not high enough to target the correct version of the keyword. It’s also useful if you or your products become well known because it will make sure that people can find you even if they can’t spell the name correctly.
On Overture last month there were 92 searches for Sean Burns. There were also 91 searches for Shaun Burns and 29 for Shawn Burns. Now, I won’t pretend that all of these people were looking for me but I should make sure that the ones that are can find me, even if they spell my name incorrectly.
Who knows? They may be the ones who want to buy my eBook!
Sean Burns is the author of the WebmastersReference.com Newsletter – http://www.webmastersreference.com/newsletter. More than five years of experience in site design, marketing, income generation, search engine optimisation and more is passed on to subscribers – hype free. Sign up today to get real information of real value to webmasters.