I love to discuss the evolution of SEO from tricks and tweaks to genuine advertising, and this is an incredible example of that.
In the pre-Google days of SEO, search was truly simple.
The algorithms weren’t super-exceptional, and were essentially an extravagant way of saying “give me all the archives that contain this exact phrase, and request them by how often it shows up.”
The search engines even gave us a meta keywords tag so we could mention to them what keywords the page was relevant for.
As you can imagine, we SEO experts abused the hell out of that.
Regardless of what a site was about, it wasn’t extraordinary to see “Britney Spears” appear in their meta keywords tag.
Genuinely it was a particularly huge volume (and intensely spammed) search term that it’s literally one of the examples Google uses when they talk about incorrect spellings and understanding them today.
Because of all that abuse by SEO pros, and because of huge advancements in the fields of data recovery and NLP, no legitimate search engine uses meta keywords anymore.
Essentially, search engines have improved at understanding what words mean.
Here’s an example from a Google talk a couple of years back where they talk about how they try to understand incorrect spellings and what word the user truly meant.
You got it, the examples are Britney Spears.
We don’t have to broadly expound of how these sorts of algorithms work, but it’s quite certain that Google (and Microsoft Bing) realize that these keyword variations are really “britney spears.”
If you’re interested about what words are often incorrectly spelled in each state, Google has shared that information too.
There used to be a time where we could pick up some traffic by capitalizing on common misspellings.
I’m sure you can still observe some old SEO articles about this appearing in Google, and I’m sure you can even discover some SEO pros suggesting it – however that is not true anymore.
Nowadays, Google and Microsoft Bing are smart enough to recognize the incorrect spelling, convert it to the correct word, and then show you results for that word.
We can see that in the search results when we spell things wrong.
Google really discloses to us they’re showing results for the appropriately spelled term.
If you really need to search for an incorrect spelling now, you need to click the link google gives you, (or change a few parameters in the URL).
But wait there’s more…
Nowadays, the script has flipped a bit on incorrect spellings.
As Google and Microsoft Bing hope to remunerate greater sites, there’s some hypothesis in the SEO people group that incorrect spellings can be viewed as a bad quality sign and may really hurt your site.
I wouldn’t take the risk.
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