Near enough is good enough

Ever tried extending you search engine marketing to catch misspellings – close approximations of your brand name? You might be pleasantly surprised.

Misspellings can yield quite a lot of extra targeted traffic to your website, whether it’s through your search engine marketing campaign (AdWords, Yahoo) or your search engine optimisation efforts.


Typos offer a huge competitive advantage. You can save money by paying less “per click”, and experience excellent return on advertising spend through higher conversion rates.


To give you a real-world example, we added three deliberate misspellings of one of our client’s brand name to their Google AdWords campaign. To our amazement, conversion rates of the typos were higher than almost all other key phrases in the campaign (including their own correctly spelt brand name) over a two year period.


  • Misspell 1 conversion rate = 26.51%
  • Misspell 2 conversion rate = 21.77%
  • Misspell 3 conversion rate = 15.79%
  • Correctly spelt brand name conversion rate = 26.37%


Wikipedia defines conversion rates quite nicely. “The conversion rate is the percentage of unique visitors who take a desired action upon visiting your website.”


It’s been estimated that 10% of all internet searches are misspellings. So let’s look at some stats to see how big a problem (or opportunity) misspellings are before devising some strategies to make the most of other people’s typos.


Last year Google ran a three-month test on one of the world’s most popular key phrases “Britney Spears” to see how many times the pop singer’s name was misspelled.

Amazingly, her name was spelt 592 different ways by 132,000 people. Click here to visit Google and see just how typographically challenged 132,000 people can be (hey, not that I can talk). offers the 100 most commonly misspelt words here. The misspelling I like the most is mispelling! [sic].


Certainly with Google AdWords you can pretty much get away with inserting a huge list of misspellings without much damage to your brand. I doubt very few people really care if your Google Ad shows for a typo.


The real challenge is how to deliberately incorporate misspellings into your website without looking completely stupid!


Tip 1. Insert your typos into your Meta tags <meta name=”keywords” content=”mispel, mispeel, etc.”>. It’s almost certain that Google completely ignores the “Keywords” meta tag, but many other search engines still put a little weight on it. I reckon you can also put them into your meta description tag – there’s no limit to how many words you can add, but I suggest you put them about 200 characters in so they won’t be seen by humans searching at Google. (Google will often use the meta description tag when returning results).


Tip 2. Set up customised 404 error pages. If you set up simple webpage templates built around a couple of the most common keyword typos relevant to your website, you’ll be creating indexable pages for the search engines on keywords you would not otherwise want to appear on your main content site. Using the “Britney Spears” example, you would build a 404 error page targeting “Britanny Spears” that would read simply as “The keyword phrase ‘Britanny Spears’ is similar to our keyword phrase ‘Britney Spears.’ Please CLICK HERE if this is what you were looking for.”


Tip 3. Use a keyword typo tool. There are lots of free ones around online. I really like this one because it uses typos created from the QWERTY keyboard (key proximity errors). The other tool worth considering is this one



To read more Chris Thomas blogs, click here.



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