To Err is Human?EUR?

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2006
To Err is Human…
So you've taken your business online. And you've made a pretty decent site of it, too. Now, you want customers. What do you do? Why, make sure that it's on the first page of a Google search, of course!  Your probable feeling of déjà vu is forgivable-yes, we did carry an article on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) not too long ago (November 2005, to be precise), but this isn't it.

Top spot on Google doesn't come easy-you have other businesses to compete with, and if your keywords are the same as those of many other businesses (and admit it-they are), you might not end up on the first page even if you've optimised your site to the hilt. Now what? Well, you could cough up for Google's AdWords or similar services, couldn't you? Or if your wallet pinches, you could just resign yourself to the fact that you're never going to get that coveted search rank.

Perhaps you are one of the Lucky, and your site is in the first few results on a Google page. There is still a chance that you're losing traffic, though. You are, after all, catering to humans, and nobody is safe from that dreaded faux pas, the typi… oops… typo. Is it 'receipt' or 'reciept'? The unfortunate truth is, many don't know. So chances are that you are losing a goodish number of your potential customers because they either don't know how to spell what they're looking for, or that they just mucked up while typing on their keyboards (the keys are just so close together!).

True, search engines do come up with a "Did you mean to search for …" warning, but this isn't always so. Try searching for "kasino", for example.

Can You Take Me Higher?
We don't encourage givers-up here at Digit; we'd rather you fight for your customer, even the grammatically challenged ones. The solution to it all is quite simple, really. When you are going through the whole process of SEO, all you have to do is optimise your site for common typos as well. This way, your site will show up in a search even when customers misspell keywords. In fact, it is more than probable that you'll be higher on the result list!

For example, "Grammar Gorillas" is the top result on a search for "grammer", but fifth on a search for "grammar". Even if you consider the "kasino" example in Google, look to the right and you'll see ads for online Casinos. Now if they could do it for the ads, why can't you do it for your site?

So as part of your SEO, do your research- once you have decided on your search keywords, trawl the net to see which ones are among commonly misspelled words. You could also use tools like the keyword typo generator at or to give you a list of possible typos for your keywords.

For example, we typed "keyboard" into the typo generator on, and this is what it came up with:

keyborad ieyboard oeyboard leyboard meyboard ketboard keuboard kehboard keynoard keygoard keyvoard keybiard keyblard keybpard keybosrd

Some of these seem a little silly, but that's because the typo generators don't work with grammar. The typos are based on the closeness of the letters on keyboard-you'd invariably end up typing 'I' when you really wanted 'O'. Another common way to end up with a typo is jubmling up the letters.

Simple, isn't it? Well, no.

Before we move ahead, let's take a look at a few SEO tips. First up, choose your keywords well. Something generic like "hardware" will get you nowhere. Try "hardware supplier [your city]" or something like that-a key phrase, rather, which will bring your site up on a more specific search. Once you have chosen your keywords, weave at least one-and at most three-of them into your page title. This will be the TITLE  HTML tag on your page.

Next in line is the Meta tag, which contains the keywords and a short description of your site. In the years B.G. (Before Google), a Meta tag would play a major role in your site ranking on a search, but this has diminished somewhat. Still, you should pay attention to what you put in your Meta tag. It looks something like this:

A Description Meta:
META NAME= "description" content= "Insert site description here, preferably less than 250 characters long."

A Keywords Meta:
META NAME= "keywords" content= "keyphrase 1, keyphrase 2, keyphrase 3, etc."

Another place you could put your keywords is in the "ALT" attribute for images. The HTML code for image placement looks like this:

<IMG SRC= "myImage.gif" width= "10" height=  "10" alt= "This is text that appears as a tooltip, or in place of the image if it isn't loaded by the site. Good place for keywords."

 Finally, make sure that your pages have at least 200 words of content, with your most important keywords used often (not often enough to turn the content into nonsense, though).
How do we work in typos into our site without looking like a shabby, unprofessional company?

This site sukcs!

Forgive us. We've neglected to mention that optimising your site for typos might actually involve you putting those typos in your site text. "What?" you might ask, "Pollute my site with crude grammar?" So this is the first hiccup. How do we work in these typos into our site without looking like a shabby, unprofessional company?

Well, we don't. Obviously, we won't advise you to look silly with the word "plubishing" running around your DTP company's site. We turn to the Meta tags to aid us here; yes, search engines today do use more complex methods to index sites, but the good ole Meta isn't dead yet. If your site's keywords aren't among the most popular terms searched for on the Net, you might be able to get away with just this tactic. Unless, of course, too many other sites thought of the same thing.

The next option is a little better, but is a slightly bitter pill-you need to put the typo in your text. Don't just throw it in anywhere, though. You need to plan it so that the likelihood of it ever being discovered is minimised. Obvious typos convey the impression of being unprofessional, and can be a huge turn-off for many. However, putting it in the page footer or the "ALT" text for an image is somewhat forgivable. You could also change the font colour so it's nearly invisible. We only recommend this approach in case of emergency-if the keyword you're looking to employ is extremely popular and you get no results from the Meta option above.

Why you little $#@%#!
It isn't difficult to guess that this is a pretty offbeat strategy-which, like all offbeat strategies, is quite likely to be met with accusations of trickery and debauchery. Taking advantage of people's typos like that? Blasphemy!

Or just smart business? Honestly, ask yourself-how many times have you wanted to type in "the", and ended up typing "teh"? Or how many times you've wondered whether it's "independence" or "independance"? (It's the first, by the way) Let's face it-nobody's perfect. Optimising your site for typos not only gives you the added advantage of being higher on a search list, it's also great for the customer. "Cool!" he/she would say, "I got what I wanted in spite of my silly mistake!"

There are some things you need to keep in mind before you go ahead, now.

First, look through the keywords you've decided on. Are any of the important ones easy to mess up? Long words usually are. Ditto for words with the 'ie' combination-"Is it 'ie' or 'ei'?" It's a mystery. The point is, don't bother optimising your site for words that, in all likelihood, will not be misspelled.

Second-and very important-make sure that the typos you optimise for are relevant. Nobody's going to like it if your hardware dealership site turns up on a search for "flowrs". To see such skulduggery in action, type "webligs" (an easy typo to make when looking for "weblogs") into Google, and take a look at the fourth result-it directs you to a site that sells prescription drugs!

Third, don't go overboard-under any circumstances, do not let the typos on your site be obvious. Remember, what you want customers to think is that your site is smart enough to know what he's looking for, not that you're trying everything to draw him in. For a taste of some good old desperation, type "kasinop" (you might end up with this when looking for "kasino") into Google, click on the very first result. It looks quite harmless initially; but scroll down, and the story is a tad different.
Finally, as far as possible, try to restrict the typos to the Meta tags.

Just your regular, run of the mill Indian Gambling Site

Aargh! Half a page of typos! There's no escaping this site!

Stand Fast
With some careful thought, you could considerably boost your business with little or no additional cost. It is important, though, to keep your ear to the ground-any hint of a negative response entails another look at your strategy.

Goos Luk.

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.