When Having a Variant Spelling Of The Same Entity Decides Your Ranking On The SERP – An Interesting Case Study

Google is getting smarter with variant spellings of the same entity but is it perfect? The answer to this lies in a simple case study of finding a perfect Hanukkah t-shirt for yourselves. Here is a  little background on the word. Hanukkah is a transliterated word from Hebrew. As Hebrew has its own series of alphabets, there can be numerous possible spellings that people can use while referring to the same entity such as Hanukkah, Chanukah, and Channukah etc.


So whether you are searching for “Hanukkah t-shirts” or “Chanukah t-shirts,” the least expectation from Google is to be smart enough to understand that this is the same entity having different spellings and therefore provide nearly identical results. But that is not always the case.

Yes, this is true even after the introduction of Knowledge Graph and Hummingbird. When these changes were introduced, expectation was that the search queries would now be more than merely strings and would be treated as real-word concepts. But unfortunately, this is not yet the case. Confused? Let me explain this in detail. Suppose you search for George Washington, it is highly likely you are searching for the 1st President of United States and not your uncle or some random person named George Washington.

Similarly, Google is  smart enough to judge when someone is using the keyword Hanukkah, he is most likely referring to the holiday entity and the various spellings are also representing the same entity and thereby the results would be the same but if you run the query with Hanukkah and Chanukah, you would get very different results.

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So what does this mean for the store owners who are hoping to get business from the search queries? They are losing out on a lot of potential customers just because they are not using the variant spellings on their page. Even though the Hanukkah still dominates the search queries but the other queries have a  sizeable amount which no store owner would want to leave out on.

Posing differently, this loophole can also be used by the store owners who can use the less searched keyword and manage to come up in the SERP just because other pages are not using that keyword on their page. So it is all how you want to use this loophole as this surely exists. But this surely would be a gamble.

So what would should be the best course of action for you. If someone needs full coverage of terms, you cannot rely on optimization for the highest search volume keyword. The best thing to do would be to include the actual string for each spelling variant somewhere on your webpage. Also, if you are a smaller player, the optimization towards one of the less searched spelling variant would not be such a bad move after all.


This is just one case. There would be a lot of  other cases like this. So even of you are not selling Hanukkah products, it would be a  good start to have a look on whether the spelling variants exist in your case or not and if it does, how bad is it and what can you do to cure this  problem.

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