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Treating two words as one in search

How to link two words to be treated as a single keyword

     
7:00 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Is there any way in html markup (or any other trick) to join two words together so they are treated as a single contiguous keyword in indexing and search?

The specific phrase I want to use is "North West", but the words are indexed and searched separately. Using a hyphen is grammatically incorrect, and it's only very rarely written as a single word.
8:06 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Northwest is also a correct spelling/term in some parts of the world (USA for example). Try that. Bing, for example will return North West and Northwest in a single search. (with a "did you mean North West?" underneath).

We don't usually discuss actual keywords at WW, but this is rather generic and does illustrate that some words and word pairs can be a single word with no hyphen requirement.
9:03 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Thanks. That's a last resort if there's no alternative using markup.
9:12 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Would there be any mileage in using a non-breaking space?
9:25 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Would there be any mileage in using a non-breaking space?


No - this would be treated as a word separator.

If you wanted to be particularly sneaky, you could do something like this:

<style>
.northwest {
visibility: hidden;
}
.northwest:before {
content: 'North west';
visibility: visible;
}
</style>

<p>The <span class="northwest">Northwest</span></p>


Not sure it would be advisable, though!
12:07 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For search engines like Google, this is a non-issue. If it's for your own search engine, however, you could consider using a data-* like <span data-alternate-spelling="northwest">North West</span> and index those.
12:14 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For search engines like Google, this is a non-issue.


How so? Results are highly different for the two searches.
2:36 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Are they? The differences are small for me. And in both cases it's all a jumble of "North West" and "Northwest". Google will know that it's sometimes spelled one way, and sometimes the other way. They're not treated identically, of course, but if you would only write "North West" you could still rank for "Northwest" queries. But I'm not sure Bunzer is referring to search engines like Google and Bing.
3:26 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yes, there are differences in the SERPs.

It really depends upon the inference, and that's the key point.

Is the page about the North West of a region, or something else.

If the page is about the region it should be all the other signals on the page that help point Google's understanding of what the page is about. It's the whole page that makes the difference of inference, not a single or split keyword.
3:49 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I am referring to the main search engines and especially Google. The "North West" is a region of England in the UK. That is how it's usually spelt. I was just concerned that the words "North" and "West" were being given too much weight individually in SERPs. I suppose I shouldn't worry. The words are usually together, so they can be treated as a key-phrase too.