Bit of an outcry today about Google changing its default results for Search Engine OptimiSation to Search Engine OptimiZation.
I’m fascinated by this subject as I spend a lot of my time looking at multilingual SEO and the localisation that entails as well as the difference that accents etc. can make. The English language is supposedly simpler than that and not subject to so many tiny but impactful tweaks.
Unfortunately my to-do list currently has about 10,000 things on it and a well-resesarched post into the ins out outs of this topic is sadly fairly low down the priority level.
For my entire life at least, I’ve understood the -ISE version of words to be innately British (and usually Australian, Kiwi etc. too) while the -IZE version of words is all-American.
According to Nichola over at SEO-Chicks’ research, this is not entirely true. Roll in the Greek vs. French war. I still struggle to believe the search results data Nichold found a little – if there’s one thing the Brits are good at, it’s pointing out what the ‘correct’ English is and I can’t think of anyone I know who wouldn’t vote for the -ISE option, let alone deliberately search for -IZE.
Meanwhile Andrew Girdwood from Bigmouth notes that it is perhaps only the phrase SEO that is really affected by these latest fun times with Google, meanwhile other examples such as Gloablisation or Privatisation still only maintain the old “Did You Mean” option.
I don’t think it’s any real surprise that Google has gone as far as auto-changing the search results. The SEO industry is the USA is far greater than it is here, for the most part the two countries’ worlds cross over massively as do their SEOs and all the optimisation/optimization searching that goes with it.
What does bother me is the extra step it’s taking towards so-called Utlitarianism (ooh hark back to my days of being a Philosphy undergraduate – ack). It’s the constant idea that it’s all for the greater good. With all the changes to the UK SERPs in recent months, and now this auto-change. It seems that Google is ever increasingly only focusing on the bigger picture.
Note definition according to wikipedia: Utilitarianism is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its utility in providing happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome.
The problem with the Utilitarianism theory put forward by Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and the like is that the criticisms of it can be critiqued to death and so on and so forth. Is there a solution? Should we just accept that -IZE is correctly, supposedly equally if not more popular in usage in Britian and definitely more popular in the US and therefore bow down to the auto-correct?
I like a rant, I can’t help it. Yes optimization is recognised as correct spelling usage, yes us UK-ers understand it and are used to having to suck up auto-correct in MSWord and all the rest of it. But even if the search results, like Nichola’s post shows, are really majority in favour of -IZE (and this only by a margin), does it really really need to be auto-changed?? I don’t mind the old ‘Did You Mean’ feature, we’re used to it, we can choose to click it if we want to and us 49% who still prefer searching for Search Engine OptimiSation, it’s nice to have the option.
Oh and as a final note, look at my Google suggest (UK – not personalised). Isn’t that pretty.
Posted on 01/14/2010