Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our most popular U.S. business listing is a typo

Looking through the Google Analytics stats for our English-language site, I was surprised to find that the most visited U.S. business listing on Nelso is a small bed and breakfast in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California called Svendsgaard's Inn. I found this surprising because it is very hard to rank for hotel (or any accommodation) keywords on Google if the search is in English. These listings are dominated by large established sites like TripAdvisor,, and Expedia, and we don't put any effort into trying to rank for such competitive terms.

So I went to Google and searched using the keywords that brought people to the Nelso site for this business listing, and there we were, three of the top ten results for this little inn in northern California (Google Map).

Why would we rank for this particular place? It took me a few seconds, but I quickly realized that it was common for users to search for "Svengaard's Inn", rather than the correct spelling of "Svendsgaard's Inn", and that this same misspelling was in our database.

Now, I've heard of people doing this - putting misspellings and common typos on a web page just to attract typo traffic from Google - but we've never tried that ourselves. This little accidental experiment, however, shows that there might be something in this. I wonder how many typos are entered into Google by non-Czech speakers when searching for businesses in Prague. Probably quite a few, as the Czech language is very challenging for a non-native speaker.

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