Thursday 04 July, 2013

Targeting Misspellings – A Good Traffic Strategy or a Colossal Waste of Time?

On May 13, 2013, it was reported that candy bar giant Snickers paid a huge pile of cash on advertising that targeted misspelled keywords and product names. Was the company incoherent because of an out-of-control sugar rush? Not at all. This was a carefully planned strategy to draw traffic from office workers and other folks too hungry to spell correctly.

This is actually a strategy internet marketers have used for years. The idea is that you take a keyword and come up with a list of misspellings for that keyword. You then create pages that target those misspellings.

For example, you might target ‘morgage’ instead of ‘mortgage,’ or ‘accomodation’ along with ‘accommodation.’ Like plurals and other variations of a keyword, the misspelling gives you additional traffic. The simple reason is that people don’t know how to spell.

The Benefits of Bad Spelling

Is it really worth targeting these goofy misspelled words? It may be depending on their search volume. It’s estimated that there are about 10 million misspelled search queries per day. If a misspelling of one of your keywords has a high enough search volume, it may be worth targeting.

A huge advantage of targeting misspellings is that they have little or no competition. You’ll never get traffic with a search term like ‘weight loss tips,’ but go for ‘wait loss tips’ and you may have a chance. It’s much easier to rank for these goofily misspelled words.

How Do You Spell ‘Disadvantages’?

There are a few major disadvantages, though. One is that for each misspelling, you have to create pages and other marketing materials to which to send traffic. You’re adding more keywords to your campaign which means more work for you.

But the biggest downside is that the whole point of content marketing is to build trust. What kind of trust are you building if you’re a law firm that can’t spell ‘attorney?’ The problem is that an unknown portion of those 10 million misspelled daily searches are just typos. In a mad rush to find a good Italian restaurant for a business lunch, an exec types in ‘Italina resarant.’ But when they find an Italian place that can’t even spell ‘Italian,’ they’re not likely to take a client there.

Finally, Google is shutting down the whole thing for us. This is an old technique that marketers have been using for a long time. But today, Google gives you the ‘Did you mean…’ option at the top of your search results. How many of us automatically click on the link provided there when we realize we goofed up the spelling of our search term?

Too Hungry to Type

But the big question is – Did Snickers’ million dollar idea work? According to the company, the misspelled ads reached 500,000 hungry people who can’t type.

If you’re thinking about targeting misspellings, the proof is in the research. Check out Google’s Free Keyword tool and play around with some misspellings of your keywords You can get ideas by finding an online typo generator (google it) or just google ‘list of common misspellings’ for your keyword. If there’s a misspelling with a high search volume, it may be worth the time and effort.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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