Optimise vs Optimize Part Deux


Google were clearly having their usual playaround, just joshing wit’ ya, haha funny funny joke around yesterday – and the SERPs for “search engine optimisation” are back to their usual selve with no auto-correct from optimisation to optimization.

However Malcolm Coles has done some more research into Google and its desire to change the way we spell and has made some really interesting points. It’s not auto-correct as such but Google is certainly nominating itself as a rather over eager teacher – telling you when you’ve spelt something ‘wrong’ and what it is you most probably really searching for – WHETHER (weather) YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.

Another example I stumbled across is Humour/Humourous. Aside from auto-correct, I’d also be interested to know more about how the algorithm works on ‘did you mean’ suggestions and whether this then relates to search volume, leading to possible auto correction.
So for example e.g. Humour has no “did you mean” suggestion and only shows correct results for the UK-spelt Humour with a u.

humour serps

Meanwhile Humourous does have a “did you mean: humorous” suggestion with the top two results from that serp being shown.

humourous serps

Interestingly Insights for Search shows that like Macolm’s Stationery/Stationary example, there has been a crossover in search volume – with the volume of searches for ‘humour’ dropping while the volume of searches for ‘humor’ has increased.

YET – there is not even a ‘did you mean’ let alone any form of auto-correction for that keyword! (Apologies for the poor quality of my images – few technical issues…)

I’m definitely planning on monitoring a few of these examples more closely going forward – there is obviously a logical reason behind auto-correcting poor spelling to some extent. However Google is taking is to absolute extreme in some cases, and seemingly not touching it in others.

And again for a user’s perspective – is it really preferred to by default auto-correct rather than give us the option of clicking on a ‘did you mean’ button?
Maybe not auto-correcting would actually also help teach us to spell more correctly in the first place if we are erring of the righteous path – AND allow those that spelt it correctly in the first place the option of not shouting irritably at the computer for auto-correcting yet again.

Meanwhile from an SEO perspective, being constantly aware of the possibility of auto correction may take a serious toll in keyword research. If I run a website of ‘humourous photos’ in Britain and I optimise for it – I don’t want to find myself in 3rd position (which is technically 1st) just because Google sees fit to show me the first two results for ‘humorous photos’ above JUST IN CASE.
Similarly – should I then be focusing my efforts on my ‘humorous photos’ just because I know I will be top for both humourous and humorous thanks to “did you mean”? Seems a tad unfair to me.


    • Jan 20, 2010

    Hi Annabel,

    Looks like Google are getting themselves in to a ‘right old state’ with the UK results and the force feeding of US results.

    Thanks for the post.



  • Oli

    • Mar 25, 2010

    Yeah the google autocorrecting is becoming a real pain in the behind. I liked it when they gave you a ‘did you mean’ CHOICE, but forcing visitors on to something else is plain annoying.

    Also, the graph clearly shows the British people are becoming less humourous. I blame the recession, labour, and squirrels.

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