Spelling Errors: Advanced SEO Techniques

With certain sites in certain industries it can cut into your credibility to have lots of misspellings.

Although I hate to admit it, one of the biggest things holding back my credibility is spelling errors. Some people just can't take a misspelling fool seriously. Others empathise with my skills and type misspelled queries into their engine of choice.

Matt Cutts recently said that using correct spelling is good for SEO. This couldn't be any further from the truth for most boring hollow shallow lead generation / affiliate marketing / contextual ad websites (aka: 99% of the web).

Misspellings probably occur in somewhere around 10% of search queries. Across the board misspelled terms are probably less than 10% as competitive as the correct spelled counterparts. Sure some people will opt to use the search engine spell correction tools, but many do not.

While some misspellings cost me links and credibility, others earned me thousands of dollars.

Truth be told, I was financially screwed when I made those thousands of dollars off of one particular spelling error that comes to mind. Had I not been a bad speller I may have been bankrupt (and I would have neve typed this post).

Not all your sites have to be associated with your name, and I am not ashamed to profit from being a naturally craptastic speller. Is your good spelling holding back your earning potential?

Published: January 24, 2006 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


January 22, 2007 - 5:50pm

Have you read this?

Quality guidelines

These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites).

The original text can be found here.

January 23, 2007 - 1:38am

And if you have a strong brand or a legitimate reason or creative way to target misspellings it probably is not considered deceptive. Perception is reality.

January 23, 2007 - 11:14am

Hey Aaron -

I have a burning question about misspellings, and you seem to be one of the most daring of the SEOs out there who is still standing. Everybody is going "Oooh, don't do it!"

I personally think including misspellings is a service for dyslexics, bad spellers and foreigners, and I've noticed a significant increase in my traffic from putting the misspellings on my pages. I put them in a smaller and lighter font, separated by commas, at the bottom of the content.

Here's my question: One of my sites recently go DEINDEXED - "lost" - out of Google, despite the fact that it is original and useful content, doesn't break any rules, no black hat. Except, some thought it was the "spammy" misspellings at the bottom of the pages, while others thought it must be a Google glitch. Is this "grey/gray hat" perhaps?

I'm planning on being on your call tomorrow with Jonathan Leger, but this issue is driving me nuts. I want my site back, but I also like the traffic from the misspellings, which I'm still getting on other sites - although I took them off my main one out of TERROR. And the misspellers, I think, are probably appreciative of finding a neat page with useful information on it, rather than really awful looking pages with blather that are still being returned.

Please help!! I want to provide this service, but I sure as shoot don't want to be banned.

January 23, 2007 - 12:39pm

I think certain techniques build credibility and leverage while other techniques build profit and risk those. It is hard to evaluate any particular site without knowing the vertical, but the fact that you used light text to sorta hide what your doing would indicate to me that it was done with a deceptive intent (if I were a search engineer reviewing your site).

It is much better from a risk reward ratio to have user generated content where some of your readers are bad spellers. :)

January 24, 2006 - 3:40pm

I toteally agree with your artical.

January 24, 2006 - 6:29pm

"empathise" is a British variant of "empathize"
"(and I would have neve typed this post)" should be "never"
You mention mispellings costing you or making you money, but what are the examples for people not familiar with your history?

This is a great blog, despite the mispellings.

January 24, 2006 - 6:48pm

Absolutely right... I wrote about this as a traffic tip back in December: Take advantge, er, advantage, of misspelled keywords. Targeting misspelled keywords makes great business sense, though if you're a professional writer like myself it does feel wrong when you do it... But hey, if Shakespeare could misspell things, who are we to complain?

January 24, 2006 - 6:56pm

Addendum: Also, remember that spellings differ throughout the world. And then there us poor Canadians who have developed our own mashup of the English language. In the end, though, you should write for your primary audience, which is why I'll write "color" and not "colour", even though I'm really a "zed" guy.

January 24, 2006 - 9:49pm

cool tool aaron. put it in my seo toolbox!

September 17, 2008 - 12:38am

This is a great article, I know it's rather outdated from the time I'm writing this comment but I was searching your site and came across this and it totally puts my mind at ease after receiving an antagonistic email about some misspellings I had.

I also wrote a blog post about it and mentioned your post here, title: Spell Checking Your Site Could Help Or Hurt SEO.

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