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Correct spelling vs. real-life spelling



12:05 pm on Mar 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi there,

I just relaunched a medium sized industry site. In the redesign process, we took the opportunity to run all texts by an external lector to check for spelling and phrasing. He found quite a lot of issues along these lines:

Correct spelling:

- tiny blue widgets

Spellings on the old site - usually different spellings mixed on a single page:

- tiny-blue widgets
- tinyblue widgets
- tiny-blue-widgets
- tiny blue-widgets
- tinybluewidgets
- tb-widgets (term sometimes used in my industry)
- tb widgets
- widgets which are tiny and blue
- tiny widgets in blue
- tiny blue widgest (typo inserted deliberately)

Now I have the problem that my site is 100% gramatically correct, but that pages are dropping from their (previous) top positions because the keywords, which users actually type in, are not found any more.

We have some compensation because all the old keywords are covered by AdWords, but having the pages back in top positions would be better.

The situation is even a little more complex since my native language uses special characters and we mixed writing the keywords with these characters and in their internationalized form without the special characters. The lector - of course - replaced them all into the correct form WITH the special characters.

Any best practice here? Or drop the correct spelling again and mix the most popular variants on the different pages again?


12:41 pm on Mar 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You could make another site for the mispellings and have the pages link (redirected) to your gramatically correct site. Be sure to make the pages at the gramatically incorrect site different enough so they aren't seen as duplicates.


1:36 pm on Mar 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's me again, pmkpmk.

I've been thinking about my reply and wanted to add a couple of things.

I've never done what I suggested because 1) I'm pretty busy with other things and 2) I think they would be considered "doorway" pages (that's what they are) and could get your gramatically correct site in trouble.

For sure don't do 301s or auto refreshes.

Still, you can help people who don't spell very well. They really are looking for your site.


3:29 pm on Mar 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Mhmm... sounds a bit too dangerous for me. Any other ideas?


9:45 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm more or less decided now to revert back to the "mixed spelling" I had before. I'm probably gonna drop deliberate typos, because they may look stupid to visitors. But playing with the hyphens will already sort out a lot of non-hits I encountered since the change.


10:16 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I create pages specially optimized for misspellings. These are flat html pages with unique content optimized for the relevant misspellings of relevant keywords. You could call them doorway pages, but not in the full sense, I use no special codes or other techniques, just simple flat html.

The linking of these pages are important, they need to be interlinked and linked with the rest of the site. You will find that these pages do indeed create traffic.


10:19 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Could you explain a bit more about the interlinking and linking of these pages? Should they be visible in the main navigation (I guess not) or simply linked from within other pages?

What's the visitor psychology if he does not come from a search engine but from the normal browsing of my site? Wouldn't he be "schocked" to find flat html pages all of a sudden?

How unique should the content be? There's only so much to say about blue widgets, and it's all on the "correct" page...


10:29 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It is important that they are designed in a way that it is obvious beyond doubt that they belong to your site, even though they are flat html and the rest of your site is dynamic.

I link to these pages from my index page, but the links are as discreet as I can make them (not hidden, no 1*1 pixels, normal href links with keywords as linktext).

It is my philosophy that each page has a minimum of 3 links pointing to it, so I create a “cloud” of pages croslinked.

I use these flat html pages for optimization with misspellings, dynamic pages, flash sites and graphic heavy sites. I feel that it is a good compromise between the need for using pages that are relative easy to optimize and the disadvantage in having pages that fall outside your normal technical design


10:32 pm on Mar 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

They can not be to unique, you need to formulate the words in a novel way, it doesn’t matter that the content or the point of the text in not new, just the formulation of the text. Remember that the SE’s often will penalize duplicated content


11:54 am on Apr 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For whatever it's worth, I'm creating a page specifically optimized for misspellings, based on which misspellings got the top traffic gleaned from AdWords tests of each. Yes, Google and other SEs may be able to properly direct a search based on intuitive correction of the misspellings, but other engines might not, and besides, I see higher rankings vs. correct spellings, if you hit the misspellings exactly, right on the nose:

"Maybe you call it a WIDGETT or perhaps your favorite misspelling is WIDGETTE. Some people even use WIDGIT. But no matter how you spell it (or misspell it) our widgets are the best in the industry"...etc.


12:11 pm on Apr 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, in my case (and in my language) it's not exactly mis-SPELLING, it's rather mis-HYPHENATION.

Again an example:

Correct hyphenation in my language:

- tinyblue-widgets

Popular search terms with incorrect hyphenation:

- tinyblue widgets
- tinybluewidgets
- tinieblue widgets
- tiniebluewidgets
- tinieblue-widgets

Note that the last three samples are NOT(!) misspellings in my native language, but simply alternative but still correct ways of writing the word.


9:21 pm on Apr 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I changed one page to mixed spelling back a while ago. It has been spidered already, but I donÄt see any changes yet.

Any fresh ideas?


10:12 pm on Apr 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Don't worry about the hyphenated ones, the hyphen is treated as a space.

It's always a tough call when you need to make a decision on capturing variations on your keyword phrases. It is definitely easier to approach when you are targeting two words that could be searched as one string (bluewidgets vs. blue widgets).

<title>Blue Widgets - Best Prices for BlueWidgets</title>

The above is a fairly crude example but it gives you an idea.

Now, when it comes to misspellings you have to to be a little more creative. You can blatantly misspell the phrase or, you can accidentally misspell it. ;)

You may even include a paragraph at the beginning of the page that briefly describes the correct spelling of the term and then list all of the incorrect spellings. Problem is, this could be seen as somewhat unprofessional depending on the industry. But, you have the other side where some will appreciate the fact that you've provided them with the correct spelling.

So, what do you do? You break down content to its least common denominator. Then you focus on where you are going to target variations of spelling and also misspellings. The more pages you have about bluewidgets and blue widgets, the more areas you have to work with.

P.S. With the major search engines now using stemming, the one word vs. two word keyword phrases may not be a factor anymore.

You also have... Did you mean: bluewidgets


10:21 pm on Apr 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The hyphen-issue is good news :-)

Actual mis-spellings are a minor component of my problem. I mentioned already that I'm not talking about English, but about a European language with special characters in it. There IS an official way how to write these special characters in 7-bit charsets - so I already have TWO possible spellings. And then there is the issue with the blanks/spaces, which DO show different SERPS for my queries.

In your title-example you more or less described the old state of my pages. The more I think about it the more I'm inclined to revert back to it.

Now stemming. Mhmm. Will it work with non-English pages? I have used lang-tags, so the spiders "should" know it's not English...


11:41 pm on Apr 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My problem is not so much a misspelling as a matter of the word being commonly spelled as one word and as two words. Would it work to have the different spellings alternate among pages? For example, the main page might spell it as one word all the way through and another page would spell it as two words. The text would be entirely different.



7:57 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Does it look add if you mix the two versions on one page?

If you divide the spelling onto seperate pages, different pages will show up for searches on the different keywords. If you mix them on one page, this very page will then show up for both searches.


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