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How Do You Handle Multiple Spellings Of Words?


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30 replies to this topic

#1 Faramir

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:06 PM

What do you do if your keywords have different spellings for different countries or preferences? For example, we are making a page about 'coalbed methane.' Our company policy is to spell coalbed as one word, yet many people spell it as 2 (coal bed) and some hyphenate it.

If someone searches for 'coal bed methane' or 'coal-bed methane' will they find our page? If not, what do we do? We can't start spelling it every which way on the page without looking like they're typos.

Thanks.

#2 copywriter

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:54 PM

Hi Faramir. Welcome! :rolleyes:

That's a common "challenge" with SEO copy. I've done several sites that faced this same quandry, most recently one for a tradeshow booth company. Tradeshow is commonly spelled both as one word and two words.

What I normally do if you *must* use several spellings is choose one version per page. The most common spelling would be used on your index page. The others can go on subsequent pages. I have often put a short little sentence in the copy that stated something to the effect of "Tradeshow booths (often spelled trade show booths) must be lightweight yet sturdy..." That way, people don't think you're nuts when they see multiple spellings within your pages.

Karon

#3 dragonlady7

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 02:26 PM

Brilliant. :rolleyes: Just put in an explanation that it can be spelled both ways! There's a good one right there. *takes notes* :type:

#4 copywriter

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 02:48 PM

I love that emoticon!! Type, type, type.

#5 Faramir

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 03:29 PM

Thanks Karon. So obvious, and it yet wasn't obvious to me! :rolleyes:

#6 copywriter

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 04:02 PM

Glad to help!

#7 mcanerin

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 12:48 AM

Good Idea! As a Canadian I get zapped because we spell some things like the UK and some like the US, with good ol' Microsoft's dictionary lately being the tiebreaker (if it doesn't complain, I don't change it, if it does complain and I like that spelling, I add it to the dictionary - repeat as needed)

The problem is that for SEO it's not your spelling that matters, it's the searchers. In one case the phrase was so commonly misspelled I did this:

Kooteny - Kootnai - Kootneys - Kootnay - Kootnays ...
Hey, how do you spell that, anyway?
It's spelled Kootenay by the locals, including the Lower Kootenay Indian Band


But it's not often you can do that and still keep some shred of dignity. The problem I have is that by creating a second page for an alternate spelling you run the risk of being penalized for replication. Or do you mean to alternate the spelling during the text flow? That would be hard on the eyes, too.

Google helps a bit by putting in the "Did you Mean:" spelling checker at the top, but if a likely site shows up anyway, the user is probably going to just choose it.

What I'd like is some more ideas like the ones above that I can add to my toolkit and pull out when appropriate. Any suggestions?

Ian

PS A poem for you:

Spell Checker

Eye halve a spelling chequer.
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write.
It shows me straight a weigh.

As soon as a must ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite.
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it.
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh;
My chequer tolled me sew.

#8 Carthago

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 06:06 AM

I agree with the multiple page version to attack this problem.

People not only spell in a different way but also search in different ways because of that. Optimizing a page is concentrating on the phrase / keyword(s). With this in mind you can go to any SE and type the phrase with the different spelled words and see the number of results. Imagine the visitors you cannot show your page only because of some different use of the word.

See this "problem" as some advantage.

#9 copywriter

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 08:09 AM

Mcanerin,

What I mean by "multiple pages," is that on the index page I'll use one spelling. On the about us page I'll use another spelling and make some reference to why it's spelled different. On the order now page I'll use the last spelling.

No, I don't mirror and just change the spelling accordingly.

You're right... the SEOs I work with rarely target various spellings unless they are high ranking keywords that deserve some attention.

Good job on the "how do you spell it" deal!

Karon

#10 Carthago

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 11:57 AM

No, I don't mirror and just change the spelling accordingly.


I also not talk about a copy of the page with using different spelling. I did try to show the advantage of a different spelling AND that you can optimize for that. Maybe it is good you mentioned this and I agree that pages with the same content can work wrong for you.

#11 3rdeye5

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 05:18 AM

Hello everyone,
For dealing with people who search for the word "accupressure," while the actual spelling is with one "c," I made a page that lists all webpage titles with the incorrect spelling. This "accupressure" page is linked to from the introductory acupressure page on my site, from the misspelled word in the sentence 'Acupressure (sometimes written as "accupressure"),...' .
The reason for the second page is described on it.

So, this second page naturally has lots of the keyword "accupressure," and it is linked to from the word "accupressure," so it does get found in Google. There are no hidden links and it's purpose is clear to everyone, so there's nothing spammy about it.


Ewald

#12 bwelford

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 05:59 AM

The best example of this conundrum is website or web site. The Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility points out that "typos" are one of the 10 factors that may undermine a web site's credibility. So you should not use both variants in the same document for public viewing. They use web site consistently.

However public usage changes. Last time I checked slightly more than half of all searchers use website rather than web site.

There's no easy answer to this problem that I know of.

Barry Welford

#13 qwerty

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 08:59 AM

Then there's the problem of words or names that contain special characters. A client of mine, whose site is all about promoting her, has an accent on the last letter of her family name. And yes, we've gotten to the point where people will search on her name :)

I find that about five to ten percent of those searches include the accent, and those are almost exclusively users in countries other than the US (no surprise there), so instead of devoting entire pages to the correct spelling, I just sprinkle it in. If a page uses her name more than once, I'll use both versions. After all, people searching just on her name should be sent to the home page, and I want both spellings to have that result.

#14 Gary Bagshawe

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 12:30 PM

Another fun one is optimisation or optimization, I guess you just have to optimise for the country you get most business from.
BTW love that little ditty mcanerin.

#15 copywriter

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 01:06 PM

True... it takes a little working and a lot of creativity :)




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