As Google continues to update its algorithms in order to offer a better search experience to users, it gives rise to some important questions regarding the strategies that were once considered best practices for SEO, whether or not they still work.
This blog will address one such question today – targeting misspelled keywords, which was once a very common SEO strategy – whether it is a valid strategy today or has it become super outmoded? Or if still there are some advantages of targeting misspelled keywords, or would it be a complete waste of time? And most importantly, if doing so could harm your SEO anyhow?
The evolution of search engine optimization from tricks and tweaks to real marketing is a particularly interesting topic.
Before Google entered the world of SEO, the search used to be very simple.
Back then, the algorithms were not that advanced, and honestly, they were nothing but a fancy way to say, ‘hand over all the URLs containing this exact keyword and arrange them in an order based on the number of times it appears.’
Moreover, the search engines also provided the SEOs with a meta keywords tag to enable them to inform the search engines what pages were relevant for what keywords.
And well, as one can assume, the SEOs started exploiting it recklessly.
Regardless of what a site is all about, one could very easily spot “Britney Spears” in their meta keywords tag.
Really it was such a high-volume and copiously spammed keyword that Google literally uses it as one of the examples whenever discussing misspellings and understanding them today.
Due to all that exploitation by the SEOs and due to the great advancements in the information retrieval (IR) and natural language processing (NLP) fields, no reputed search engines use meta keywords tag now.
Likewise, search engines have also improved their capabilities of understanding the meaning of the words.
In fact, a couple of years ago, Google discussed how they try to decode misspellings and find out what word the user actually meant.
Well, you guessed it right – the example was Britney Spears!
While there’s no need for us to go in-depth about how such algorithms really work, one thing is crystal-clear that Google and Bing can understand the keyword variations and their actual meaning quite easily.
Long gone are the days when SEOs could drive some ‘extra’ traffic to their website by taking advantage of common misspellings.
We are almost sure that users will still come across a few old SEO posts about this topic on Google, and they can even spot some SEO professionals recommending it, but that is not the case anymore. That’s just not how things work today in search.
Google (and Microsoft Bing) have now gotten savvy enough to discern the misspellings, translate them into the right term, and then display the search results for that translated term.
Users can easily make this out when they perform a search query, spelling the words wrong (frankly, we do that a lot).
Google literally tells the users that they are “Showing results for” the correctly spelled word instead of the misspelled term you entered earlier.
So, if you deliberately want to search for a misspelled term now, you need to click the “Search instead for…” link that Google provides you. Or you can also alter a few parameters in the URL to do the same.
But hold on… there’s more to it. Having discussed how irrelevant targeting of misspelled keywords has become today, this brings us to our next and last question – whether still using this strategy could hurt your SEO or not. So without wasting any time, let’s get onto it.
Misspellings Might Even Harm Your SEO
Nowadays, when it comes to misspellings, the script seems to have flipped a bit.
While search engines like Google and Bing consider rewarding high-quality websites with better ranking positions in the SERP, there is a hypothesis within the SEO community that the use of misspellings might act as an indicator of a poor quality website, which ultimately will harm your site’s SEO.
Even though it isn’t sure yet, we wouldn’t take that kind of risk.
Wrapping it Up
To conclude, things have drastically changed within the SEO world as search engines became super advanced. Many “tricks” that used to work out pretty well for SEOs and their sites earlier have become too outdated and irrelevant today.
One such tactic is the targeting of misspelled keywords. While the SEOs back then used to cash in on this strategy, today, it is nothing but a waste of time. Google has become smart enough to spot misspellings and understand what the searcher really meant.
But that’s not it. Besides all that, the use of such practices today can even hurt your website and its SEO rankings as it may signal Google that it is a low-quality site.
There’s no point taking this risk, given that it doesn’t do you any good. There are numerous “ethical” ways to improve your site’s ranking. Even though they are time-consuming, the results you will achieve eventually will be worth all that.