Spelling Issues for Marketers

- September 26, 2007

By now most of us are familiar with the spell correcting feature found in the majority of search engines available today. We often make spelling mistakes in our search queries and almost automatically click the spelling correction that is suggested to us.  In a famous Google testimonial, a woman went as far as to say that this feature saved her dog’s life. In a panic while her dog was choking, she did a search for “chocking dog” and Google suggested that she meant “choking dog”. This led her to a website showing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her dog.  While it may seem that this option is a spell checker, it is actually just suggesting searches that have more results.  This feature can be a great benefit to the casual surfer, but it can be a real issue for marketers interested in branding. 

One of our clients which I was working with is a company called Life Journal. They offer journaling software that helps writers be more organized and focused.  Unfortunately, the name of the company is very similar to the popular virtual community and social networking site “Live Journal”.  A search for “Life Journal” in Google suggests the search of “Live Journal”. It displays results for both searches separately on the same page. This can be confusing for searchers and often draws them away from what they may have intended.  A Yahoo search for “Life Journal” is much more unforgiving. A search query for “Life Journal” actually returns sites for both “Life Journal” and “Live Journal” together in one set of results.  This means that the Life Journal homepage and anything related to Life Journal is buried deep underneath the more popular Live Journal sites.  This is bad news for Life Journal.  A searcher typing in their brand name into Yahoo is unable to locate their homepage or anything actually related to Life Journal.

So what can be done to deal with this search issue? The best answer for now is SEM.  When doing a search for “Life Journal” the paid ads still show up at the top of the page.  Often this is the only way searchers can find the site because the organic results get buried or can be confusing.  It is likely that the search engines will wise up and improve their correction algorithms.  Others have pointed out flaws in the corrections system which has led to Google making some changes. This search feature has definitely proven to be a real issue for search engine marketers.  The best way we can hope to bring about change is to identify the issue and make it known to the engines.

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