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A Grammatical Nightmare for a Search Engine Optimizer

  • October 11th, 2012 at 7:35 pm
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  • Sebastian Agosta
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Who would have thought one little word could cause so much stress?! If I wasn’t a huge fan of jewelry (or is it jewellery?) before, I definitely hate it now! For those of you unfamiliar with the word “jewelry” it has two different spellings all dependent on which part of the world you live in.

In the United States (and sometimes Canada), it’s spelled: J-E-W-E-L-R-Y.
In the United Kingdom (and sometimes Canada), it’s spelled: J-E-W-E-L-L-E-R-Y.

Of course the spelling of the word never really mattered much to me before. Jewelry or jewellery. I wasn’t buying any, I wasn’t wearing any and it really wasn’t a word I commonly used in my daily vocabulary.

Then we were hired by a jeweler to do search engine optimization and suddenly the word became something I would fixate on for days.

Once I began doing keyword research and analysis for the client, I quickly realized using the word jewelry as a main keyword, wasn’t going to be so simple. I did a Google search on the correct spelling and the first 10 results said the same basic thing “both ways are correct depending where you are in the world.” Because our client was based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, I searched “spelling of the word jewelry in Canada.” This only further confused things. Some websites and dictionary resources said Canadians spell jewelry with one “L” and no “E” and some said we spell it with two “L’s” and an extra “E.”

This was not good.

I decided to stop pretending I was an English major and put my SEO hat on. I used keyword research tools to determine what was searched more and EUREKA! I finally had my answer!

Or so I thought.

The amount of people searching for “jewelry” quadrupled the amount searching for “jewellery.” There was just one problem, after speaking to the client, they felt that the double “L” was correct for Canadians.

So, I needed another plan.

I went back to the drawing board and after talking things over with the client, we collectively decided that using both spellings of the word in both content and keyword optimization would be the best plan of action. We focused most of our time on using the more widely searched “jewelry” and spent the rest of the time on the Canadian/United Kingdom spelling “jewellery.”

Having just completed the initial phase of this project earlier this week, results are yet to be determined, but it was definitely an interesting foray into the world of “proper spelling of..” in Google.

My last thought on this entire situation is this, market and optimize your site to your client and customer base. If you live in the United States and are working with the keyword “jewelry” use that spelling. If you’re in the United Kingdom go with the “jewellery” spelling of the word. If you’re in Canada, I would suggest taking the same route I took; focus most of your time optimizing for “jewelry” because it does seem to be the more searched and more common use of the word. Just be sure to sprinkle in the occasional “jewellery” for the beautiful and elegant Duchess of Cambridge – Catherine Middleton. You know, in case she visits your site one day…


Sebastian Agosta

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