Spelling-Variations and SEO

How can you do SEO on a phrase with multiple ways of spelling it?

Video Transcript

David: We’re talking about different variations on keyword spelling variations. So, whether you call it Ready Mix, two words, Readymix, one word, or hyphenate it, we know they’re all the same. So, one of the first things we’re checking is we’re going to Google to look and see what Google shows us, and it’s not auto-suggesting a hyphen, for instance. Part of the problem might just be simply because “ready” can be modified for a lot of things, not just concrete. But let’s look and see what I’m looking for in the search results.

Onawa: Oh, Ready Mixed is the other one. Now that I’m seeing it, yeah, that’s a fourth one.

David: Okay. So, what I’m looking for is sometimes, when you Google a phrase, it will highlight the word in search results. So, here’s Ace Hardware Ready Mix for a title tag, Ready-mix concrete, in the meta description. Ready Mix. Ready Mixed. Okay, so here’s Ready Mix on Wikipedia. Ready space Mix we entered, and Ready-Mix is returned. Right? Here again, Ready-Mix is what they’re using on this website for Home Depot, at least in the title note. In the site link, it has a space. It’s also Quikrete, which is a brand name, I presume.

Tricia: Yeah, it is.

David: Maybe a competitor. But notice that Concrete Mix is here, but the words Ready Mix are not even in the text. I might inspect this just to be able to point this out. See how Concrete Mix is emphasized? There’s an emphasis tag in the search results. Now that doesn’t mean they’re putting the word Concrete Mix in emphasis on the page necessarily. Google is highlighting the phrase Concrete Mix in response to a query for Ready Mix Concrete. This tells us that Google thinks they’re synonymous. You can do a similar thing if you go to Google and you type…

Dave: I have a quick question on that. When you say Google thinks it is, is it thinking it? Or is it trying it out?

David: It’s associating Concrete Mix with Ready Mix.

Dave: Well, so, if you go back to your results, is that just one result? Or are there other concrete mixes? Because I remember you talking before about how Google keeps trying different things – inserting things and putting stuff up and down different results to see what gets clicked on.

David: So, that’s true. But what I’m trying to show is that… It may be easier with this, Lawyer. We searched for the word Lawyer, and it’s returning Attorney. Right? A Lawyer. Lawyer highlighted. Lawyer. Interesting. This is actually contradicting what I was about to say. Charlotte Attorneys. Lawyers. Google knows a Lawyer is an Attorney. And so, it’s returning attorney pages in response to the query of lawyer. It knows they’re synonymous, in other words. Here is an example. We did an inspect element because we’re trying to show that Google… We’ve put Ready Mix Concrete, and it’s emphasized Ready-Mix.

Onawa: But it took out the hyphen from the emphasis.

David: That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Onawa: Yeah.

David: Here’s another one where Concrete Mix is emphasized. So, when we’re doing a search strategy for Ready Mix, first of all, Ready Mix is a little broad for a keyword. We’d want to say Ready Mix Concrete. And that’s part of the keyword research process where we focus it. And maybe, like in this case, it’s not even Ready Mix Concrete. Maybe it’s Ready Mix Concrete For Sale or Ready Mix Concrete Provider. Because maybe they’re not Home Depot, right? Where you just want to go get a bag. Maybe you’re a distributor. Or maybe it’s about Ready Mix Concrete that the client provides. You modify the phrase so it’s more specific, so we don’t try to compete against Home Depot when we are a commercial provider of concrete, perhaps.

Onawa: Maybe we’re sending the trucks out.

David: Yeah. I guess what I’m trying to show you here is that Google knows that Readymix, Ready Mix, Ready-Mix, and even Concrete Mix are synonyms.

Onawa: Okay, so, should I keep it the same throughout the entirety? Should it be the same, ideally? It feels like it should be the same throughout, but it also feels like, in a sort of old way, you just sprinkle it throughout with different spellings. But that seems wrong.

David: I would think, from a content perspective, this is a challenge a lot of clients have. They’re the only ones who visit every page of their website. Right? Because if we’re doing SEO correctly, they’re landing on the Ready Mix Concrete distributor page, and they’re making a conversion. So, in one way, we can be very narrow and focused and think, oh, my goodness, it has to be consistent across our entire website. Oh, no, it doesn’t because we’re the only ones who probably would notice that. But if we tried several variations of the page, it also might look sloppy. That’s old-school SEO.

Onawa: Yeah.  

David: Google knows they’re all the same. And that’s why I want to do the Google search, not to see where we rank, but to see what Google does with this idea. But here’s one of the things you learn from this. Not only can you get away with the variations, but you should probably include Concrete Mix, as well, because it’s considered a synonym for Ready Mix. Now, when you do keyword research, there’s another little thing that might help you. So, first of all, I would run the variations through whatever data tool I’m using for keywords and see if one of them comes up with data and the others don’t, just to see. In this case, I would probably use Bing Webmaster Tools for this because that’s going to give you really good keyword-specific data.

Onawa: Okay. That’s what I used.  

David: Yeah. But one of the nice things is if you have access to Google ads, their keyword planner. What’s really interesting about the keyword planner is if you put all three variations, including Ready Mixed, if it thinks they’re all synonyms, it will purge out the synonyms and only show one of the variations. So that is confirmation to us if we put it in the keyword planner that, hey, Google is not going to give you different variations of the word in the keywords planner’s research results. It’s going to weed them out. And if it does and you would no longer see the hyphens, or you no longer see the spaces. You know that’s because Google decided it’s a synonym of other stuff you’ve already used, and it’s not going to give you additional data. But I think from here, we’ve kind of shown, and you can do the same experiment with different variations and just see. Now here, you had mentioned to us earlier that the challenge was every time you Googled it, it ranked differently for this client of yours. And that’s almost not a surprise. Because I think it’s called the Pigeon Update. I forget. A few years ago, Google modified the way it displays search results. Not just based on your personalized results, right? We know it personalizes. If Dave in California searches, he’s going to get different results than me, right? That’s personalization based on geography. We know that, for instance, if your client is here, you might artificially see it inflated because you have your Webmaster Tools account associated with them. And Google might help you see your own client. But I don’t have Webmaster Tools, so I might not see your client. That’s why we have to be really careful about ranking reports because one of the ways Google definitely personalizes search results is every time you enter a new query, it bases the last result on the previous queries you’ve entered. So, if we go Readymix, one word, and Google might think you didn’t like the results last time, and you’re modifying it because it’s failing you and it wants to give you better results. Therefore, you are going to see different rankings. And that’s one of the other reasons why we can’t trust ranking as an objective measure. It’s really interesting. You can play a game with this. You can kind of change the search results you get based on the queries you’re doing. Let’s say you do a search for chips. And then, you do a search for cookies. The cookies result might be like a chocolate chip preference recipe because the previous query was chips. This is how Google works these days. It’s taking the input from the previous queries. And so it’s not a surprise that every time you did a new search for a variation, you got different results. Google’s thinking, oh, she’s not happy with that. I better step my game up and try some new stuff. But I think we can conclude that these Google sees as synonyms.

Dave: Okay. But that’s kind of part of this process if you’re asking your client about that. But you have to ask your client, “Okay, put yourself in the position of your client’s client. It may be that Concrete Mix and Ready Mix is identical to them, right?”

David: Yeah. Right. Like Jello and gelatin or Kleenex and tissues. That’s honestly where a lot of these client conversations go awry. Because clients are like, no, I’m not Concrete Mix, I’m much better than that. I’m Ready Mix. Yeah. And that’s why I put it this way to my clients, “Would you take money for someone who searched for you incorrectly? Or would you be like, no, if you dare call my product Concrete Mix, I will not take a penny of your money?” Okay. With SEO, we sometimes have to speak incorrectly about things because our client isn’t informed and then get them to the page and then inform them, “Hey, we are not the same old concrete mix you buy at Walmart. We are much better. We are ready to go. It’s a lot easier to use. That’s why we’re called Ready Mix.” Now we’ve educated the client.

Dave: Yeah, those are perfect opportunities for blog posts. And I think that’s a reason why you want to do research on what the competitors are doing.

David: And I’d say with the blog post, you could probably get away with variations on spelling a lot more. But again, I wouldn’t want to put all the variations on a page because it will look like, can I trust this company with my concrete if they can’t even consistently hyphenate the word? Right? Sometimes, people will be put off by that. And frankly, I think this shows we don’t even really need to do that. Okay. Great question.

Dave: That’s a good question.

Have a question about this process? Ask it here:

Get started doing SEO today

SEO seems hard- you have to keep up with all the changes and weed through contradictory advice. This is frustrating and overwhelming. Curious Ants will teach you SEO while bringing your website more traffic and customers- because you’ll learn SEO while doing it.