Fault Tolerant Keywords: Incorporating the Unusual

KeywordsSEO is a method for fallible creatures to find your infallible Web site, so incorporating common spelling mistakes into your keywords can be an effective method to get even the dimmest bulbs to find their way to your site. Find out how you can make searching for your site idiot-proof.

SEO is a method for fallible creatures to find your infallible Web site, so incorporating common spelling mistakes into your keywords can be an effective method to get even the dimmest bulbs to find their way to your site.

How many times have you heard anyone complain about their lack of spelling talent’ It happens often enough, and people generally laugh it off. What isn’t so funny is when these same people struggle to locate your home page. Search engines like Google try their best to overcome this by suggesting what it thinks are the most likely words a novice hunting and pecking their way through the Internet is trying to enter. But why leave it up to the search engine to decide what these folks are after when you can do it for them’
{mospagebreak title=Sources of Data Error&toc=1} In the second edition of Modern Systems Analysis and Design, Jeffrey Hoffer et al describe four main sources of data errors: Appending, Truncation, Transcription and Transposing. By using these four main error types as guidelines, plus my own addition of Substitution, you can effectively optimize the keywords on your site to take these errors into account.

Appending: This type of error stems from the addition of extra characters into the search string. If two words in your domain run together or share a letter (www.comsumerrecreation.com as opposed to www.consumerecreation.com) it’s important to try to account for the bending of traditional spelling and grammar rules, especially when you’re using a non-traditional domain name.

To take a moment and let the obvious Dan Quayle joke go whizzing by, some people actually do spell it ‘potatoe’ and do so often. Correct or not, this is a fact an optimizer cannot ignore, especially if running www.potatohq.com.

Truncation: The subtraction of characters from the search string. This is especially important for clients using their names as URLs. If a client has a difficult or unwieldy first or last name, a good strategy would be to try and come up with a few likely variations in spelling to try and catch visitors who may be slipping through the cracks.

The vast majority of my personal experience with SEO work involves realtors in Ocean City, Maryland, and while property rentals and sales had their share of the market, most of the real estate sites I was involved with were focused on condomin-, condomeni-, condominim-, err condos. Instead of forcing the wandering real estate client off the Internet searching for a dictionary or worse, onto another site looking for the proper spelling of ‘condominium,’ ensure they don’t have to by including commonly-used abbreviations or the longer form of the words to minimize the effect of truncation errors.
{mospagebreak title=More Sources of Data Errors&toc=1} Transcription: The dreaded typo. Of the five, this data error may be the least significant simply because the user will oftentimes catch their own error after inputting the string into the search engine and seeing the ghastly results for themselves. Transcription errors may be the most difficult to anticipate. Watching your own typing habits to see if and when you make any typos when referring to your clients’ pages is a good source for keywords to incorporate.

Other times, transcription errors may occur from geographical locations. Adjacent to Ocean City are the towns of Rehobeth Beach and Louis, Delaware. Now, in the previous sentence, neither of those town names are spelled correctly, but if you’re just going on pronunciation alone these terms are likely to be entered into a search engine’s text box. Locals may know these towns are spelled Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, but extending that knowledge to each and every Internet user is an exercise in futility. Save yourself the trouble and add alternate spellings.

Transposing: The switching of letters in a given word. “I” before “E” and all that. Use both. Problem solved. This is probably the simplest error to combat, while remaining the most maddening. Quite simply, sometimes words, even when spelled correctly don’t “look right” to the users, or even worse, they do look right and remain incorrect thus guaranteeing they will never find your site. Don’t give them that opportunity.

It’s not always vowels that are the subject of transposition errors. You don’t have to go far to see a ‘teh’ when ‘the’ was the obvious intention. Such errors are so common that in many instances, they’re considered jokes. If only it were funny, from an SEO standpoint. Transposition errors occur all the time, and worse yet, they’re easy to make. Take care to recognize when your fingers fumble and realize that there are a lot of other people out there making the same mistakes.

Substitution: Using one letter for another. Leaving aside the parlance of phone text messages, which would warrant their own article, some words in and of themselves lead people to make mistakes. For instance, no matter what the physical effect of Italian coffee may be on your body, it’s still not spelled ‘expresso.’ However, the administrator of a coffee-themed site is making a mistake if they neglect such a spelling in their keywords.

It also works in reverse. If your domain is substituting letters or numbers in place of the actual spelled word, you can’t depend on visitors being able to crack your code. What may be a simple and convenient abbreviation for you hardly constitutes common sense to another person, especially if you run your site out of Miami and the prospective visitor is in Germany.
{mospagebreak title=In Closing…&toc=1} Having a well-optimized site is not only appearing in the top five results of every search engine on the market for your domain name. An important consideration is the amount of searches conducted relevant to your market that return your domain name each and every time someone asks for it. Internet search engines rely on users searching on their terms, not the parameters programmers or marketers define. The weakness in this practice is the end users themselves, and we can rely on that end user to make mistakes. All the optimizer can do is try and account for the probable mistakes the user will make.

The theory of Search Engine Optimization is the quest to guarantee that every person looking for your site will be able to find it. Internet search engines tend towards the Draconian when it comes to the interpretation of these search strings, leading to a rather austere list of results. By incorporating the elements of common mistakes into the fold, you can add an aspect of fault tolerance to your search results and ensure that every potential visitor to your site can find their way to the destination you have created for them.
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