Think back to the last cringe-worthy time that you turned in a typo.
Maybe your latest proposal had a big, fat typo on page two. Or, you submitted copy to your boss, and she pointed out that you wrote weather instead of whether.
Sure, typos happen — but that doesn’t mean we’re happy about letting one fly.
Now, imagine taking that cringe-factor one step further and purposely including misspellings in your writing.
Why? Because you’ve heard it’s a sneaky way to drive search traffic.
Sure, you hate typos…but could including them here and there be a good thing?
After all, you don’t want to miss out on what some folks have called a “fantastic optimization opportunity.”
Let’s climb inside my Google time machine and answer this question…
What we used to do for Google (20+ years ago.)
It’s easy to think that Google was always as “smart” as it is now.
But back in the day, Google was actually pretty dumb. It couldn’t tell the difference between “who” (the pronoun) and “The Who” (the rock band.)
And misspellings were equally as challenging.
That’s why many businesses had “typo footers” which would read something like this:
“Are you looking for search engine optimised content? You may have typed search engine optomized content into the search box, or search engine optomozed content. Whatever you typed, if you need search engne optimyzed content, you’re in the right place.”
(Ouch, that was painful to type.)
On the surface, this strategy makes sense. If you think about your own search behavior, you’ve probably typed in a few misspelled search terms. After all, it’s hard to type on a tiny screen without glasses…
…OK, maybe that’s just me.
So, it follows that some people believe optimizing for misspellings still helps your site position. In fact, I still see, “add the occasional misspelling into your content” as SEO writing advice.
Here’s why adding typos to your site today (on purpose) is a horrible idea.
No, it’s not because people are typing more accurately. In fact, one out of every 10 searches has a typo.
The BIG reason seems so obvious, but it’s often overlooked:
Adding typos to your copy makes your company look sloppy.
Even if your client (or the SEO, or your boss) may think that misspellings are the way to go.
Your customers have zero idea that you’ve misspelled “financial secritity” on purpose. They just see a big ol’ typo in the middle of your page.
But, let’s say that your client insists that adding misspellings will drive massive traffic. After all, he read about the technique in a blog post somewhere written by an “expert.”
Google has gotten smarter since those early days. And one of the ways it’s smarter is by recognizing misspellings and offering alternate search results.
So, there’s no real advantage in adding misspellings. Google corrects your search on the front end.
But wait…there’s more…
Not only did Google develop a way to spot misspellings a long time ago, this is something the company is still actively improving.
According to Google’s Search On 2020 event, Google has developed “a deep neural net to significantly improve our ability to decipher misspellings.” In fact, this change “makes a greater improvement to spelling than all of our improvements over the last five years.”
(Here’s the Search Engine Roundtable write-up if you want the summary.)
So again, there’s no benefit to adding misspelled words to your content — especially when it takes three milliseconds for Google to catch the misspelling and to show the searcher the corrected result.
Google is on it.
So, like LSI and keyword density, optimizing for misspellings is another old-school SEO writing myth you can let go.
Doesn’t that feel good?
What do you think?
Have you been told to include misspellings “for Google?” Leave a comment and let me know!