There’s a big difference in following proper English and grammar guidelines, and creating a proper experience for your end users.
A professional writer will write a word to follow guidelines created many years ago. That is the issue. There is a set structure which is not updated to meet current usage and regular standards.
Using common spoken versions instead of the “technically correct” versions is one of the ways I help my clients bring in more traffic and increase conversions, but only when it is appropriate.
Google does tend to prefer proper grammar and english, but it isn’t always the best experience for your user base (customers, readers, subscribers, leads, etc…). That is why situationally we break from branding and corporate guidelines and do what is right for the end users. By doing this in these situations we can increase traffic and increase conversions.
Finding the right balance should be your goal as a business owner, marketer and content creator.
Below are a few examples with explanations of these.
You can find these same terms and phrases using Google keyword tools as well as your own site search depending on how much traffic your website has. I have the advantage of having some high volume websites as clients. These are all based on campaigns and niches I have worked on for various clients in the past, but not the actual data or examples.
(please note I’m not comparing specific apples to specific apples in each example. But I am keeping it in the family like a red delicious vs. a golden delicious, or a granny smith to a honeycrisp. They are each to demonstrate a specific technique or SEO and conversion tactic).
Example 1: Mother’s Day vs. Mothers Day
Mother’s Day is only 31 days away so I’ll start with this. Browser’s and many writing tools will autocorrect Mothers Day to have an ” ‘ ” symbol before the “s”. But if you look up the search volumes, the non apostrophe version has more traffic.
If you’re a blogger or content creator who does not have to deal with a branding team, this is an opportunity to capitalize where big brands cannot.
Bonus tip – One thing I’ve also seen in different niches is that the ‘s version can lead to different themes and topics. Instead of a shopping page or review, a listcicle could be the better experience. Checkout the double bonus tip in the next section for an even better one!
Group 1: without the apostrophe
|mothers day gifts
|mothers day gift
|mothers day gift ideas
|best mothers day gifts
|good mothers day gifts
You’ll see “best mothers day gifts” above has 12,100 searches but “best mother’s day gifts” has 6,600. That’s a big difference in traffic and sales!
Group 2: with the apostrophe
|best mother’s day gifts
|last minute mother’s day gifts
|top 10 mother’s day gift ideas
|mother’s day delivery gifts
Example 2: Microneedling vs. Micro-needling vs. Micro Needling
The spelling here and also capitalization make a difference. If your audience uses two words and capitalizes both, using this on your website could make it more relatable to them. But it might not follow brand standards or trademarks. The added benefit here is that you’re speaking your customers’ language.
Although it may be incorrect. A single word vs. two words or a hyphenated version can also have a substantial impact on the traffic levels. Look below to see the monthly search volumes for each.
Bonus tip – I found a slight skew when working on a project for these phrases where the end user for one of the variations in particular also wanted “vampire facials” and assumed they are the same. By combining vampire facials into the page we are able to let the end user know they found the right place and it may or may not have lead to an increase in conversions by adding the service in.
Double Bonus tip – Use Google Auto Suggest and also the “People Also Ask” to determine if these phrases are shopping ready, research phase, or just interested in what it is. This will determine where the version of the content should go and the formatting of the page.
Group 1: single word spelling
|microneedling near me
|microneedling at home
|what is microneedling
The interesting thing to note between these two is that microneedling as one word is about a product and a service. When it is split into two words it is about the results of and questions about a microneedling procedure.
This level of detail and research is exactly what you need to determine where to use which versions, how to relate to your current and prospective customers (or readers) and how to phrase your offering.
Group 2: two word spelling
|micro needling side effects
|micro needling results how long
|micro needling at home reviews
|micro needling depth chart
|micro needling for pitted scars
|micro needling after one treatment
Example 3: A Modifier Makes a Big Difference
This example combines both of the above into a big ticket term, tshirts. You’ll see examples with the apostrophe as well as single vs double words, and spellings.
Group 1: modifier one word
|black tshirt dress
|black tshirt women
|black tshirt for men
|mens black tshirt
Group 2: modifier two words
|black t shirt
|black t shirt mens
|black t shirt dress
|black t shirt women
Group 3: modifier two words different spelling
|black tee shirt
|black tee shirt dress
|black tee shirt womens
There are some huge differences here. Group one has less search volume than group two, but the modifiers begin to change as the longtail versions develop. This is where you need to match your onsite search. Which version do your customers use the most.
If your customers always want a tshirt vs. a t shirt, you may be able to relate to them better and bring more qualified traffic in. The buyer base also changes substantially.
In the second group “black lives matter” began populating with a higher search volume than in the first group, and more frequently. This could be a sign that a portion of the 22,200 monthly searches is not relevant to a plain black t shirt so you may want deduct that search volume.
Basically, if you sell black t shirts but not black lives matter t shirts, then that portion of the searches are not relevant for your store because you do not carry the products. This is why this search volume should be subtracted from the main number.
In this case, the total search volume for t shirt as two words is still higher than the numbers in group 1 so version two is better volume wise, but not necessarily user experience wise.
Something interesting in the third group with tee vs. t is that girls appears to be one of the larger search volumes. To verify if this is a thing, and you sell kids and adult tshirts, you will want to search for other color, style and size variations. If it holds true, you may want to use “tee” instead of “t” in the kids sections and “t” instead of “tee” in the adults.
Branding will likely throw a temper tantrum over consistency here, but guess what, this is a business and businesses need money to pay for the branding. This is how you grow sales and the business, it is also one of the ones I end up pushing for much harder because it is a bigger win.
Keyword research for SEO isn’t just about volume. It is finding the right versions of keywords that your audience will use, and knowing when, where and which format to use them in. This is what makes the difference in your bottom line, even if they are technically not correct.