Breaking The Spell

Scott Lambert

Following speculation on the part of users, it has now been revealed that the Apple App Store search engine has undergone an update. The most important change? It can now cope with misspellings and typos. Though it is too early to be certain of the impact this will have, it seems highly likely that it will result in an increase in sales for the company, with more people able to find the products they want.

This might seem like a trivial issue but it fact it is one that marketers should take very seriously. It is estimated that 10% to 15% of the American population is dyslexic and almost 20% have a first language other than English. The average typo rate is somewhere between 4% and 6% even when good spellers are included. The upshot of this is that errors are to be expected and any sensible system has to take account of them; what is more, marketers have to take account of them.

The matter is still more complicated on the internet because of the proliferation of acronyms, oddly-spelled words and grammatical rule breaking. An individual might be perfectly good at spelling my and space but not realize that they are joined together in MySpace, and therefore have difficulty finding it using a search engine that does not consider variations. Another might be able to spell comics and film but not find Comics2Film, and so on.

In some cases the problem can work the other way, with some search engines so quick to "correct" what they identify as unusual that they misdirect searches. This is a problem that can be particularly frustrating for mobile users, who may have limited bandwidth or a poor connection and already find the search process slow.

What does this mean for marketers? It is not as simple as always making sure to use simple, well-known words, as these tend to be the first ones to be used by other people, and when it comes to domain names they can be considerably more expensive. In cases where poor search engines are likely to be an issue, one option is to include likely misspellings of the brand name – including likely typos – in the meta tags. They do not need to be high priority because it is unlikely that other sites will be trying to compete on them.

Some sites, such as FaceSpace, have built their brands on other people’s errors. There are positive ways to learn from this approach and make sure proper spelling is not essential to discovery.

Scott Lambert

Written by Scott Lambert

For 35 years, Scott has been at the forefront of digital transformation and how it is effectively applied in businesses and organizations to market, sell, and support customers and members more successfully and cost effectively. Scott is President and Co-Founder of Xcellimark, an award-winning digital marketing agency serving clients throughout the U.S., Canada, Central America, and Germany. Xcellimark helps businesses succeed through the implementation of its unique digital marketing and sales approach specifically designed to meet their specific goals and objectives. Scott’s marketing, sales, and operations experience have included key management positions at industry leaders including AT&T, iXL (now SapientRazorfish), eSchool Solutions (now TalentED), and BellSouth, where he led the product development, marketing efforts, and market launch of, the second public ISP developed in the U.S. Scott is the author of articles highlighted on leading online publishers such as LinkedIn, Business 2 Community, and he was recently featured by LinkedIn in the Entrepreneur magazine article on “No Time for Marketing? Hire a Freelancer.” His engaging personality and wealth of real-world and business experience make Scott a frequently requested speaker. Some of his engagements include being the featured speaker in a series of Orlando Business Journal seminars on Digital Marketing, speaking at the WSI London conference, and at international conferences in Belize. Scott has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Mississippi and a Master’s of Science in the Management of Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Scott has been active in global mission efforts and is a board member of Global Teams, a Christian outreach organization. He lives in Winter Springs, FL with his wife Nancy and dog Sadie.

Topics: SEO

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