• Targeting keyword variations for increased search & pay per click traffic

    by  • April 6, 2007 • Google, Keywords, Microsoft, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Optimization, Tools, Yahoo • 8 Comments

    When planning and researching your keywords to target for either pay per click advertising campaigns or on-page keyword focus within your content, most marketers don’t realize they are leaving a lot of potential keyword options on the table. And what’s more, these alternative keywords are often less expensive to purchase or less competitive to target in the search results for. Why is this? Because too many people take what keywords the various keyword tools give them to heart. There is a huge wealth of traffic to be gleaned by targeting variations of your top chosen keywords.

    So what exactly do these “variations” refer to? It definitely goes far beyond the typical misspellings, which is what most people think of when considering alternative keywords. And while misspellings are a crucial part of your keyword variations, there are more areas to look at. Here is what they are and how you can use them to your advantage when creating keyword lists.

    Misspellings. This is the biggest one, and probably the one used the most. For example, let’s use the word restaurant. Did you know that there were this many misspellings to that one word:


    And that doesn’t even take into account the plural version of the word!

    Another great example is everyone’s favorite train wreck, Brittney Spears. Google released data showing just how many people tried to search for Britney, but spelled her name wrong. And 40,000 people in a three month period spelled her name with the most common misspelling, Brittany Spears, and 36,000 searched for the second most common misspelling. I am sure the people who rank for those are quite pleased with it.

    There are several free tools out there that will generate misspellings for you. Microsoft adLabs has their Keyword Mutation Detection. Searchspell’s typo generator. And Keyword Discovery has a misspelling keyword tool to paid subscribers.

    Acronyms is another important one to consider. Acronyms are words that are creating by using letters from a multiword phrase. For example, SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization and PPC is an acronym for Pay Per Click. Abbreviations and slang would also fall into this category as well. Do more people search for SEO or search engine optimization? This is definitely something to consider when you do your keyword research and decide which one you should be targeting, while ensuring that you incorporate the other into your keyword management.

    What about the whole one word versus two words debate? Is it clickfraud or click fraud? Is it daycare or day care? You would be surprised at how many people search for one or the other, particularly when you see words such as those in common usage as one word or two.

    And don’t forget the hyphens. Is it pay per click or pay-per-click? Again, this is a term where both variations seem to be accepted. Make sure that you are taking advantage of any hyphen versus no-hyphen in your own market.

    And don’t forget those fun keywords that fall into multiple variations, such as BBQ, barbeque, barbecue, Bar-B-Q, Bar-b-que. Let’s hope you are using them in a PPC campaign rather than optimizing for all those variations for organic search results.

    Have you considered synonyms? Synonyms refers to two completely different keywords that either mean the same thing or are very closely related, such as soda versus pop versus soda pop. If you were a drink company, you would need to ensure you optimize for all three, since what people call it varies by region in the US not to mention worldwide.

    If you are targeting consumers searching for cars, you will also want to make sure those that are searching for autos will find you as well.

    Consider UK spelling versus American spelling. While you would want to target search engine optimization in the US, in the UK you would need to target search engine optimisation. This can be a difficult one to do if you are not used to spelling that way, as I learned while doing Seodays where we used the “S” spelling of optimisation since the first conference was in London, England.

    Are you selling with an action word? Don’t forget you want to use variations of the verb that people will search for. If you are targeting people who want to start a business, target both “start a business” and “starting a business.” Likewise, “buying links” might work as well as “buy links”. From a pay per click point of view, the “-ing” version of the keyword phrase is often available at about 1/3 of the price of the non “-ing” version, depending on what phrase you are targeting.

    Lastly, don’t forget the plurals, even though some might consider this the most obvious keyword variation to target. For example, you would want to use both mortgage and mortgages as well as both restaurant and restaurants. You would be missing out on a lot of traffic if you only target the singular or the plural and not the other.

    Do keep in mind that while the plural versus singular are combined for pay per click results, the organic results can be quite different. For example, mortgages versus mortgage shows identical pay per click ads in Yahoo, yet very different organic search results. However, in Google, both pay per click results and organic search results are quite different when searching for mortgages versus mortage.

    Finding and researching keyword variations is something that many marketers still miss out on when selecting keywords for both organic and paid results. By utilizing the above tips for finding variations, you might discover an entire keyword set with high volume yet still low competition by your competitors for both organic search results and within the pay per click market as well.


    Jennifer Slegg is a longtime member of the SEO community and is an expert on social media, content marketing, Google AdSense and search engines.

    8 Responses to Targeting keyword variations for increased search & pay per click traffic

    1. Pingback: Vinny Lingham’s Blog » Blog Archive » links for 2007-04-08

    2. April 11, 2007 at 12:29 pm


      I thought Adwords treated hyphens and spaces as equal?

    3. Pingback: Jennifer Slegg - An SEM Consultant » On-page keyword mistakes: the good, the bad and the ugly

    4. May 9, 2007 at 2:42 am

      great post way to go!
      what about aron wals’s great tool keywords-typos:

    5. May 23, 2007 at 3:57 pm

      This article is an eye-opener for me and will definitely be of great help in trying to get us back to the Top 20 results when folks Google for ‘philippine tabloids’ or ‘philippine newspapers’.

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