One commonly overlooked area of SEO is the variations in spelling within a language and region. You must consider the variations in spelling across countries. For example, I’m Canadian and in Canada, Australia and the UK, we tend to add the letter “u” to many words such as behaviour, labour, and neighbour. Americans also spell “travelers” without a double “l” (travellers). Even the word “optimization” is spelled “optimisation” in some countries. There are many examples of these subtle variations.
While the larger search engines have figured out that “behavior” and “behaviour” mean the same thing, there is something to be said about these variations.
A Business Decision
From an Internet marketing standpoint, deciding between the two spellings can be a difficult business decision. For example, if I’m based in Canada but my target market is in the United States, which of the following should my website indicate?
“My company performs Internet usage and behavioral trends analyses”
(for US audiences)
“My company performs Internet usage and behavioural trends analyses”
(for Canadian audiences)
You may want to consider writing in the language of your target market. In this case it would be the US if I intended to push my SEO services on American companies versus Canadian ones.
The Cultural Factor
One must consider the intersection of culture and language with their website and cross-border marketing approach. If I add that extra “u” it is likely to look like a typo to Americans (or at least they may scratch their heads and wonder if it was spelled correctly).
However, Canadian culture is such that we already know that our largest trading partner is the US and we’re used to seeing American versions of text. So if my website uses American spelling variations, it is less likely that Canadians will see the lack of a “u” as an issue. Canadians are more likely to take it in stride and accept it as is.
If you’re company is going after a very competitive keyword term, you might want to consider the regional variations in spelling. Domain names with slight differences may result in differential ranking. If you are going after a very competitive keyword term that is regionalized, you may want to consider targeting that location with the most common variation of the word’s spelling in the URL that local people expect to see.
How to Test the Idea
Simply perform some searches in Google and you’ll notice the variations in rankings. Look at any potential competitors’ websites that already have high rankings and see what they’ve done.
Note that just because a competitor has done something to their website, it does not necessarily mean it will work for you. Just use it as a guideline. Always check to see what other websites in your industry are doing. As the Internet continues to get flooded with websites, you will have more and more sites to review and use as a basis for your own decisions.