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google and missing accents on words
we spell it right and don't rank ;-)

 5:27 pm on Feb 12, 2003 (gmt 0)


we have a site in spain and are faced with the following dilemma:

we are number one for every combination of place namé (with an accent and spelled correctly) - the thing is our audience is non-spanish and hardly anyone ever spells it correctly, preferring place name (without the accent).

being a stickler for grammer i would hate to mispell the word, but in order to get decent ranking we are going to have to! furthermore all the people who make the effort to spell the search term correctly, are in future not going to land on our site - a bit of a paradox, and a distinct loss in credibility for us?

surely there could be some sort of fuzzy search logic for such terms?

(café and cafe is another favourite of ours)



 6:29 pm on Feb 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Jamie,

We are facing exactly the same problem in all countries using non plain ASCII charsets.
Make sure your é is put on your pages using the correct html code, i.e. é
I'm using the é version in page titles as well.

As long as the languange and charset of your page are properly defined this shouldn't be an issue. I'm ranking exactly the same for "création de ..." and "creation de ..."


PS: avoid the "windows-..." charset at all costs and favor one of the "ISO-8859-.." versions instead


 6:31 pm on Feb 12, 2003 (gmt 0)


[useit.com ]

Notice what this person does at the bottom of his page.


 7:14 pm on Feb 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

nick - unfortunately this wouldn't really help us 'cos there are many sites out there optimising for the mispellings. just a few words unfortunately would not help us. we would need to change the anchor text and titles, etc.

hetzeld - we have an english and a spanish version of our site.

we want to be found in google english for place name (because that is how the english commonly misspell it, and at the moment we use the correct spelling with an é, but the rankings are completely different for with and without an accent. so we are nowhere to be found.

as it is our english page we use

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=iso-8859-1">

at the end of the day i suppose , "if you can't beat them, join them"...?


 7:45 pm on Feb 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

at the end of the day i suppose , "if you can't beat them, join them"...?

Yep, I have had to do this with the English version of a hotel in France. The client wanted the accents, but there did not seem to be a way round it, other than to avoid using them.

American hegemony perhaps is the root of the problem;)


 10:04 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

When you see a search result in Google, is the word WITH the accent highlighted even though the search is made WITHOUT the accent? When I search using the normal Google.com I will only get the word highlighted if I have searched with exactly the same spelling and accents. Sometimes if I search for a slightly longer phrase that has three or four words, the search result will be identical with our without the accent thanks to the OTHER words in the phrase.


 10:10 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

you might want to check this thread:


ç is another something Google can have problems with.


 11:30 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

interesting article in the other post vitaplease, allthough it did stretch my schoolboy french :)

our english pages really do only go for the english market. by checking our actual referrals and using overture's keyword tool, we have approximated a 5:1 ratio of without:with accents on searches. (i love these exact sciences ;)

so i shall be searching and replacing our accents away later on today.

luckily we have a separate spanish version of our pages, so, especially given the article stats, we shall be leaving all accents in. we'd rather be found by the literate half ;);)


 11:45 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Couldn't you spell it without the accent in some of your title tags? - your average punter wouldn't notice and you could still spell it correctly in the body text.


 11:59 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

We had the same problem here. Even spanish speaking people doesn´t spell correctly in their searches. So we try to correctly write in most of the cases but living text in URLs, headers without accents.
It has worked for us...


 12:05 pm on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think you should ajust you spelling to the market you are targeting, even if it takes some convincing of the site owner. You build your site for visitors, don't you?

Even targeting US/non US English visitors is different!
(Different use of words, different spelling.)


 1:03 pm on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Even targeting US/non US English visitors is different!

Exactly, check this example [webmasterworld.com] and even authorities such as Nature intermingle both... [webmasterworld.com]

I am still hoping Google will offer some kind of Altavista Prisma pre-choice alternative spellings for searchers.


 12:37 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmm...Maybe you could leave the accents off but in an acceptable way? I vaguely remember from my high school French that if a word were in all caps it was okay to leave the accent off.

This may be completely wrong, and it may not apply in Spanish, but it's a thought.


 12:41 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

ASCII rules the web. If the majority of your traffic comes from people not using accents, because they don't know better, don't have the keyboard set to it, or just don't care - go for ASCII, and put accentuated spelling into alt.txt, meta kw, and other secondary places.

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