Wednesday, June 06, 2007

“Web Content Management System fr Window”: Search Engine Typos

Oops! I meant “web content management system for windows.” Do search engines understanding consumer search engine typos? Typing something so close to what you are looking for, like typing “web content management system fr window” instead of “web content management system for windows” may not seem like a big deal, but search engine bloopers alter consumer searches more than we know.

The phrase used in the title, “web content management system fr window” is a real-life example of a common search engine typo. In fact, within that phrase, the “o” and the “s” are missed so often that search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN have recorded the phrase “web content management system fr window” as searched about 481 times on a monthly average.

You might ask how this affects your search engine searches. Well, let us use the same phrase for an example. Typing the phrase you are looking for, “web content management system for windows,” yields about 29.6 million indexed pages in Google, 14.7 million in Yahoo, and 2.3 million in MSN. However, the typo “web content management system fr window,” only slightly different from what you really meant to type, yields drastically different results: 654 thousand indexed pages in Google, 131 thousand in Yahoo, and 56.5 thousand in MSN.

That doesn’t seem so bad. Who doesn’t want to narrow down the search? The problem is that the number of indexed pages is not the only difference with search engine typos; the poor search engines are trying to find the most relevant pages they can to the misspelled search, but it may not find what you need. On the one hand, you have tens of millions of relevant pages with a correct search; on the other hand, you have hundreds of thousands of semi-relevant pages. Which would you rather have?

Search engine typos are very common, but they do alter the relevance of your results.

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