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Different ranking when using capital letters

     
2:56 pm on Feb 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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For one of my main keywords, when using capital letters, I rank about 6 places better than using lowercase?

Anyone else seen this?

10:46 am on May 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

Could this just be a bug in the way cookies are set and read?

Cheers

Sid

12:36 pm on May 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If it was a bug with the cookies i'd assume it would be happening across all terms and across all of google not just the EU

We know Google constantly plays with its search algorithm, so i'd assume this is something they are in the process of trialing.

Distinguishing between Brand identity, Corporate identity and just Information or a question would add to Googles useability which is what they are trying to do.

Will be interesting if this is something for the summer.

3:54 pm on May 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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*future not summer.

Can you tell i was booking my holiday at the same time as writing this post :()

5:39 pm on May 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

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i have a client whos page renders exactly the same with capitalised and non capitalised of a website tier 2 page, one has a pagerank 3 one has a pagerank 0

If you're talking about using different cases in the URL - yes, a different case in the filepath does technically designate a different url. Filepaths have always been case-sensitive - that's the W3C recommendation, not just Google's idea. If differently cased versions of a url get into the index, one version is often splitting off PageRank that could be accruing to the other version.

But case-sensitivity for keywords, not urls, is a relatively new phenomenon.

7:14 am on May 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It seems that way back in the early 20th century, pre-Google, there were search engines that were case sensitive enough that common wisdom was that you should capitalize place names in your meta keywords tag. I forget which engines they were, but I do remember discussion on the topic.

It was a liberation of sorts when engines ceased to be case sensitive, because common usage, not just in search, but in email text and things like usernames, was dropping capitalization.

I think it would be a very strange (and unwise) attempt to turn back the clock by purposely re-introducing case sensitivity for search. That horse was out of the barn many years ago, and I've got to assume that Google knows it. I also can't imagine what they might be gaining, except for some test of human behavior, to make capitalization a factor and not tell anybody.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:18 am (utc) on May 31, 2008]

2:06 pm on June 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree with jimbeetle on the "massaged result set" that Google could be returning after no click-throughs.

SERP output isn't necessarily solely dependent on the user input format (e.g. capitalization), but potentially on user behavior too. The "test-searching" that we do to visually validate listing placements is atypical in that we don't necessarily click-through and that in itself could IMO be the driver for different results when rapid-firing queries. This is Google's opportunity to display different sets of Big 10 results. Why show the same results over and over if no one is clicking?

12:14 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree that you shouldn't overlook personalization. I couldn't tell in the thread here, but was the original poster LOGGED IN when making some of those searched? It is freaky to do a search and then do it again and watch it change based on what you have been searching for.
12:20 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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i am now getting different results with my site when searching upper case and lower case, whats the answer?
2:07 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I haven't seen any change in the odd case-sensitive behaviour. Still a bit of a mystery to me, frankly. The switch in result order does not follow a discernible pattern that I've been able to see.
2:15 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I tried some searches right now.

Results are very similar.
I noted just one or two sites having a different position in the first page result.

Probably Capital letter is just one of the thousands algo criteria, having a very light weight..

10:04 am on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I just noticed this for the first time today. If I search on How to <do a thing>, I have a page that comes up 4th or 5th. But if I search on how to <do a thing> it's 34th or so. Pretty weird.
4:23 pm on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing the dame behaviour here in Germany. And it's not caused by personalization/cookies (see Brett Tabke's comment), the order of the queries (see jimbeetle's comment) or different data center. However, normally results are very similar.
8:57 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi Poland here.

I have the same capitalisation thing happening with my site, logged out of my G account I get the following SERP results.

b*** t*** - top of page two
B*** t*** - top of page five (searches changed to protect the innocent:)

I think that it is linking text. I have the lower case keywords in my URL so naturally I have more links with that combination which accounts for the better SERP! I think this is a step BACKWARDS for search not forwards. If anyone from the Big G is following this thread.

9:09 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think this is a bug - not a feature ;)

I've found no hint of logic in the re-ordering process for this. I accept that it may be some machination beyond my understanding :)

Regardless: I don't think there's a wide-reaching effect, since the vast majority of searches seem to be lower-case anyway, and the re-ordering is minor.

[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 9:10 pm (utc) on April 28, 2009]

9:32 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Filepaths have always been case-sensitive - that's the W3C recommendation, not just Google's idea.

But domain names themselves are not.

9:39 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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But domain names themselves are not.

I'm not sure I understand, dragonthoughts - it doesn't matter which way you case ExAMple.com - there's only one domain name.

9:53 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Ok I think that, if you have the domain name www.pinkwidgets.com then you probably have more links with the linking text 'pink widgets' and hence you will rank higher than for 'pink widgets' than you will for 'Pink Widgets'

Any takers?

10:06 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think that, if you have the domain name www.pinkwidgets.com then you probably have more links with the linking text 'pink widgets' and hence you will rank higher than for 'pink widgets' than you will for 'Pink Widgets'

I don't bite, Andreas8 ;)

It was a while ago, but I tested rankings for capitalisation against on-page usage and incoming links, and found little correlation.

I think the "capitalisation effect" is a close cousin of the "mis-spelling effect". Itself, surely a relation of the "wrong country effect" ;)

I think it suggests something about the properties of a URL. But for an exact cause - I'm stumped.

10:07 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have a feeling that this is related to the brand weighting Google started to give a few months back to Brand related keywords. Capitalisation, bolding, italics never counted in Google rankings although I seem to remember that they did for ALtavista in its heyday...

Isn't a user more likely to Capitalise a 'Brand Keyword' than an ordinary 'keyword' even if it is a Place or a Product?

Capitalisation of search terms could be another way for Google to discern user intent, which is now a major focus, or simply identify brands for future treatment?

10:19 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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We've got too many years of all lower case searching for Google to make this change on purpose. Half the user names on this forum are all lower case.

I'm wondering whether there's some group within Google that's testing something, without having communicated to the broader search quality team.

Or maybe it's the Search Quality team testing, without having communicated to the Search Engineers. ;)

Or, maybe it's a bug.

11:53 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Receptional Andy - yes domain names are case insensitive so Example.com is the same as eXAMPLE.com however, W3C say that file paths are case sensitive so I could have example.com/example.html and example.com/Example.html on the same server and they would be separate and distinct URLs.

Note:

  1. IIS would normally serve you the same result, but Apache would normally serve you two different results.
  2. I would strongly advise against doing this!
8:37 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

So the SERP's changing due to captials in my key words has stopped. Yes I no longer go back to page 5 for one of my keywords I stay steady at the top of page 2! Lets hope they don't switch the captial algo effect back on again ever!

That would be a captial offence!

8:46 pm on May 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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No worse offence than that pun, Andreas8, but thanks for the update - I'm getting identical results at the moment too ;)
7:05 pm on June 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I just saw this happen in the SERPS. My site was in position 3 capitalized and position 2 non-capitalized. I replicated this behavior several times to make sure that it wasn't a fluke. But I couldn't replicate the behavior after logging out of my Google account.

Interestingly in Adwords I had an ad group that targeted both Widgets and widgets and Google treated them separately (gave them different click history and served up different destination URLS).

This was a US based search.

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