Should you be doing SEO for misspelled keywords?

Keywords are at the heart of an SEO (search engine optimisation) project. It can often take a lot of time and effort to rank for the keywords that drive traffic to a website which is why an SEO will often pick a handful of keywords they want to focus on. However, should you be optimising towards misspelled keywords? Read on and we will explore if you should and how you can rank for keywords.

Alix Digital vs. Alex Digital

Here at Alix Digital, we are aware that autocorrects and human error are both understandable causes of misspellings. In our own experience, we noticed that a small handful of people were searching for ‘Alex Digital’ instead of ‘Alix Digital’ and then struggling to find us. This has on a couple of occasions led to an office debate as to whether or not we invest time into ranking for the term “Alex Digital”. Most debates result in agreement that we don’t need to worry about the misspellings and here’s why:

Keyword research

First and foremost, it comes down to the keyword research. To warrant investing time into optimising for certain keywords, you need to know if it’s worth it. Are there enough searches? Low search volumes for certain keywords often render the keyword useless. Ask yourself; do I want to invest time into showing up for x number of searches.

If we take our example, we used Moz (one of many favourite SEO tools) to see how many searches we were missing out on for ‘Alex Digital’. We noticed pretty quickly that the number of searches was so minimal that Moz was unable to report on traffic volumes:

Alex Digital Swansea Digital Marketing

What? Nothing at all? 

Well, almost nothing. We know that on occasion someone will look for us as they already know who we are. But that’s just it, branded keywords are only useful if someone knows the brand and are actively searching for it. 

We can also see there are some similar keywords with no more than 0-10 searches per month:

alex digital seo

None of which are relevant.

Quantity of SEO work

SEO can be very hard work to get right. There is no magic wand for improving website visibility and working on SEO elements can be pretty time consuming. This would beg the question; should you be spending hours of valuable time on a misspelling? Or would your time be better spent working on ranking for keywords that are more likely to deliver great results?

Ultimately, it’s up to you how you spend your project time but spending time on keywords that will deliver better/more traffic seems to be more recommendable.

Website quality

Your website should read like it has been written for a human, not like it has been jammed full of keywords to appease a search engine’s algorithm. Throwing in too many keywords can be considered by search engines as ‘keyword stuffing’, which can have a negative impact on your organic rankings. It’s also not very nice to read and can be off-putting for your users.

It’s also worth being cautious to avoid muddying the waters when it comes to the terms you are using. If it is a brand term, you need to be extra careful to avoid confusing your users. For other terms, you also need to question if you want to intentionally include spelling mistakes – this runs a huge risk of appearing unprofessional.

Lastly, with the above considered, you may still be looking at sneaking the misspellings into your site and marketing. Remember how much work is involved in ranking for keywords and remind yourself how much more difficult you’re making it for yourself to rank for these terms in a way that is not obvious to the everyday user.

A good reason to optimise towards misspellings

Whilst we may not like them, there are a couple occasions when incorporating misspellings into your SEO strategy may not be an entirely mad idea:

  1. When the term is commonly spelt incorrectly: For example, up until they changed their name, Noddle (credit score tracking company) may have ended up with a surprisingly high number of people looking for ‘noodle credit’.
  2. When there is a high volume of traffic and low competition: Misspelled words are not as likely to be high on competitors’ radars and it could be a step towards easy traffic. Just remember to exercise caution and do your research as some of these terms can still be pretty competitive.

How to rank for keyword misspellings

Okay, we hear you: You’ve done your research and you know you want to show up for misspellings but you want to know how to. As mentioned above, misspelt keywords in obvious places can look unprofessional and you need to find a smart way to do it. Read on for some of our top tips:

Blog posting

Confession time, as you may recall at the start of this blog, we decided that working on ranking for ‘Alex Digital’ wasn’t worth it… and what are you reading now? A blog post that has sporadically used a misspelling as a focus keyword. Sorry about that, but our conundrum worked as a great case study.

So, a blog post that actively uses the misspelling (just as we have done in this post) may be a way to help improve your organic ranking for this term.

Alt text

A great way to squeeze some additional keywords is by using alt text in a website’s image. This has been historically helpful for search engines as they cannot read an image but they can read alt text which should aim to tell search engine what the image is.

Alt text is not often looked at by a user (human) so it can be a great place to sneakily slide your misspelling in. For example, the image below uses alt text harbouring our contrivertable misspelled keyword:

Alex Digital vs Alix Digital | Misspellings in Alt Text

User generated content

If your site has a section which allows user generated content (such as a forum, comments section, question area, etc.) it can generate a number of misspellings appearing on the website without it being “officially” written by the brand.

Anchor text

This one is a bit more tricky for a number of reasons which we’ll come to. This involves working on a backlink strategy (caution: quality, not quantity!) and using the misspellings as your anchor text. This becomes a little more difficult for a couple of reasons:

  1. Gaining quality backlinks from relevant sources is hard work and can take a long time.
  2. Other people (especially reputable sites) may not be keen on having backlinks on their site either.

PPC

If you really want to rank for misspelled terms without damaging your brand and without having to input days worth of time on a regular basis, you may find paying to show up for misspellings is your best option. PPC services such as Google Ads and Microsoft Ads (Bing Ads) allow you to pay to show up for the keywords you choose – including misspellings. Often, misspellings are recognised by Google and they show relevant ads for similar words (which can also save heaps of time second-guessing how people are incorrectly spelling words). Trust me, a search query report, which tells you the searches people made to trigger your ad, can be exceptionally insightful and some of the misspellings are astonishing.

Alex Alix

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