SEO key phrase question

Posted on 2011-05-06
Last Modified: 2013-11-18
My question involves two nearly identical key phrases with the exception of an apostrophe.  

Phrase 1: Keyword' Keyword2 Keyword3
Phrase 2: Keyword Keyword2 Keyword3

Phrase 1 is the grammatically correct version, however, it is not searched for at all.  With that said, shouldn't I still be able to rank well for the 2nd phrase by using the first phrase as a key phrase?  Do search engines care about the apostrophe?  It is important to note that in this particular industry, the apostrophe is frequently omitted.
Question by:Midwest
    LVL 10

    Assisted Solution


    This is a shot in the dark but my basic understanding of SEO is that key word are ranked depending on how often they are used. So if phrase 1 is the one often used, then it is phrase 1 that will be highly ranked and if it is phrase 2 the one widely, then it will be phrase 2 that will be highly ranked.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that, search engines work differently.  Good works differently from Bing and Yahoo etc..  Recently, Google search algorithm has become more complex and a lot of businesses are complaining. So depending on how the search engine encodes their algorithms, they may ignore the apostrophe and certain symbols.

    There is also an element of bidding, i.e. some search terms are associated with some businesses who bid for them and if you happen to use the same term, then your page will be far behind or will never be associated with those terms. It is like big fish eating small fish.  However, if you use something specific, then you page will come top.  If you search for my name koudry, you will see that my web site ( comes first. And the search engines keep changing the rules.

    I am sorry but I don't know if this makes sense.

    Good luck.
    LVL 12

    Assisted Solution

    midwest - I would suggest that if the keywords with the apostrophe are what are most often searched for, that is what you will need to rank for.  I've seen somewhat different results for misspellings because there are EXACT matches in content on certain websites for misspellings, and then other websites rank higher on the Google or Bing results page for the correct non-misspelling.

    The short answer to your question is "no", just because you rank for one doesn't mean that someone else won't outrank you for the other in organic (non-paid/PPC) search results.

    I would also say in response to your thought:

    It is important to note that in this particular industry, the apostrophe is frequently omitted.

    If people aren't searching for what is "frequently" omitted, then at least in the search engine arena, it doesn't matter.  It only matters what keywords are most frequently searched, and if that is what is most frequently searched, that is what you want to rank for even if it is "frequently omitted" in other areas for that particular industry.

    Hope that helps.

    Author Comment

    freshcontent - I think you understood me backwards.

    The phrase with the apostrophe is not searched for (or very low amount).  The phrase without is searched for fairly frequently.  My question is, if I use the phrase with the apostrophe, will it effect my chances at ranking for the term without the apostrophe?

    Sorry for any confusion and thanks in advance for the advice.
    LVL 23

    Expert Comment

    Do the Search Engines provide a different set of results for the two variations?

    If so then the apostrophe has an effect and you should take that into consideration.
    LVL 10

    Assisted Solution


    I think this is a very interesting debate. It may be worth looking into how each search engine works, e.g. google, bing, yahoo etc. SEO is a big business these days as the Internet is becoming the medium for advertising.

    I suspect that paid for ad work differently from organic searches (re freshcontent). I suspect that, if SEO was to work correctly, phrase 1 above will be the same as phrase 2 but it all depends on how the SE wants to process this. I have added some references below:

    Google Changes Broad Match Keyword Algorithm @

    Bing looks at phrases for ranking analysis @

    Phrase Match @

    Exact Match vs Broad Match vs Phrase Match @

    Phrase match and exact match @

    Good luck

    Author Comment

    Some interesting finds:

    Google: Same organic results for each phrase.  However, the term with the apostrophe (phrase 1) omitted had 0 paid advertising results at the top.  The phrase without the apostrophe had paid advertising at the top.  So it appears that it effects the paid advertising but not organic (at least for my phrase)?

    Bing: When searching for phrase 1, Bing actually told me "Including results for: phrase without apostrophe...".  Paid and organic results were the same.

    LVL 12

    Accepted Solution

    Midwest - I've also seen in Google that when you add an apostrophe, it will say "Did you mean" - and then show the phrase without the apostrophe and allow you to re-search.
    However, now with "google instant" where they do auto-complete of what you are typing, I've seen that less often.

    Sounds like bottom line, you would find the PPC/paid area a lot cheaper if you bid on the phrase WITH the apostrophe.  You should try that and see how many times it is shown (how many include it), and how often you get a click-through.

    Hope it goes well.

    Author Closing Comment


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